(above photo of my Sammy beginning his own Bible investigation)
Once upon a time, I was baptized a Roman Catholic, given a Jewish godfather, and then raised an atheist and to despise the church and not trust anyone toting a Bible.
I was slightly brainwashed by my mother’s beliefs and teachings for years. She was smart and a voracious reader and seeker of truth, well educated, an attorney. She made a good case. She was also mentally ill and undiagnosed. Being an alcoholic didn’t help the matter. I listened to a mad woman who was very convincing. Those were some dark years when I had no belief in anything Universal, Spiritual, or greater than myself. I wandered for years and comforted myself with partying, chronic pot smoking, and food. But I wanted to heal, I wanted to be happy at my very core. I just knew there was another way to live and it was far better than the prison I had built for myself. I did not want to wind up like my mother, dying alone (except for me and one old friend by her side) in a small house in the woods, still angry and still fighting an unseen God on her deathbed.
It was sometime in my late 20’s I went into a deep depression that was almost crippling. I moved to a tiny town in the country to live with a high school friend. She was reading Conversations with God and going in deep with her spiritual exploration. She believed. I ask questions and listened. I wanted to believe in…something, anything. I wanted faith and happiness, peace of mind, and some sanity. It was the very beginnings of a very long journey toward faith in the unseen and unknown cosmic workings of our Universe.
Fast forward to today. I have been doing the long haul towards strengthening my faith, questioning my faith and everything that is the Bible, God, Jesus, and everyone involved. I’ve had huge issues with organized religion even going as far as to put a bumper sticker on my car that states “God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts!” And I’ve had issues with some of the more Spiritually based Centers for Awareness or Living and the Christian churches I attended for years. Basically, any organization with too many humans gets on my nerves after some time.
So, I search with Iyanla Vanzant, Wayne Dyer, Miriam Williamson, and Deepak Chopra. I go on to learn about a church called Religious Sciences that later changes to Center for Spiritual Living or Awareness so as not to be confused with Scientology. I learn about Esther Hicks and Abraham, The Secret, Law of Attraction. I attend the Center for Spiritual Awareness and take classes and learn about Treatment Prayer, meditation, self-reflection, and manifestation. I read, I listen, I ponder. I still am on the fence.
I try the Christian churches and read the Bible, I join Christian groups and women’s Bible studies. I even invited a Jehovah sister in to study with me for months, I try out Kingdom Hall. Still not completely convinced. I’m still thinking the Bible is like Greek mythology filled with moral parables and that Jesus is just a man who understood the workings of the Universe. I’m not getting my questions answered and the more I search the more I wander in the wilderness, so to speak. Actually, I get thoroughly lost and there is nobody to ask for directions. I want to know God, I turn life over to Jesus, I grow to love Jesus although I still think he is just a man. God is Universal to me. I am all over the map.
So I ask for help and answers once and for all from the Great Universe, Spirit, also known as God. I mean, let’s not drag this out to my old age. And sure enough, all the information I need comes. God works that way. You ask and you receive. But not so easily. God gives you the answers but, it seems to me, in riddle and treasure hunt form. A few things happened to start my big journey toward, hopefully, a beautiful deepening of my relationship with God that will be unquestionable in time. The Shack was the first thing. I haven’t seen the movie as of yet, however, it led to other things. A preview of the movie coming out in April, The Case for Christ. I decided to get the book at the library and mistakenly (but are there really mistakes?) ordered The Case for the Real Jesus. Perfect! I’m deep in the book now and it’s great. I’m getting answers by historical scholars and extensive research and I can feel my understanding loosening the grip of doubt.
This author Lee Strobel is perfect for me. His story is that he was a legal editor for the Chicago Tribune with a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School. He was also an atheist turned Christian. It all started with his wife being baptized Christian and her personal changes. He was confounded and upset by it all and wanted answers, thus taking on an intense journalist investigation to find the truth. I haven’t read the book yet but I think that he really set out to disprove Jesus and the Bible as all false and instead in the end of it all he became a Christian himself. Says something doesn’t it? An atheist turned Christian after intense scrutiny, not just hearing the Word and falling backward into the river to be saved. Makes you wonder. I just can’t wait to read the book…or see the movie. For now, I’m making my way through his Case for the Real Jesus.
I have ordered all his books, The Case for Christ, The Case for the Creator, The Case for Faith. He interviews and researches it all. All the work is done and I get the answers I’ve longed to hear. He interviews the biggest, most respected, highly educated, and oldest of religious scholars and professors, scientist, and historians. He travels far and wide, he asks the hard hitting questions. He goes deep.
The other part is Joyce Meyers. That woman always shows up at the right time and says the right thing, and lately, every time I turn on the TV she is there saying what I need to hear. I purchased her The Everyday Life Bible because it has her thoughts and ideas within the pages to help translate and apply the Bibles words into simple and everyday form. I like how she explains the Word. The Jehovah sisters were too busy trying to show me Jesus’ love. I get his love, I do…I need to know if he was more than just a man. I tried Bible studies with my old Christain church and that was basically like a book club. Many people read the Bible and don’t really understand it. It’s like reading Shakespear for the first time. You have to really work with it, translate it, understand an old language. There is deep meaning in all parts of the Bible but it’s not always obvious.
I’ve been trying to read the bible for years and it only upsets me when I try to get through the Old Testament. Everyone loves the New Testament…of course, but try getting through the beginning. I wound giving my Bible to the thrift store. Then I read Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. Now, that book is deep, poetic, and really hard to get all the way to the end. It is life changing and I can’t really explain why. There are stories in there that are supposedly true but sound absolutely nutty and the stuff that makes up a mystic mythology. Yet, I believed it all. I don’t think I should have, that’s what my logical brain says, but I did. One thing that really surprised me was how much Yogananda, his Guru, and all the other Gurus loved, loved, loved the Bible…and Jesus and God. I decided to get that Bible back and try to understand it. If Eastern mystics found truth and comfort in this book….
I have another person I adore. Florence Scovel Shinn. She was a New Thought metaphysician. She is a firm believer in Manifestation, Law of Attraction, and the Mind. I like this stuff. She also loved, loved, loved the Bible and quoted it all the time. With her, I understood it better. Why do these teachers and healers love this Bible? They believe it’s all true. I must learn for myself what the magical power in this book is all about. It seems it’s not just a great piece of literary work after all. It’s the story of God.
God has done wonders in my life. I can recount the ways but it would take a whole book to tell the stories. So, now, out of respect, I will work hard to understand Him and his work.
“We looked for an easier, softer way, but found that there was none.” The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I can no longer float along on the fluffy cloud of mystic maybe and feel goods. I need something solid, deep, and passionate. When I was cleaning up my life I would go to AA meetings and hear the 12 Steps, “we looked for easier and softer ways….” When we get sober, quit old ways, start a diet, or new way of living in any and all forms, we try to find the easy way, the quick and cheap way. We see that all around us with the fast food, the strip malls and suburbia’s thrown up within months, the “quick” weight loss schemes, the even quicker money making schemes. Quick and cheap doesn’t last, if it even works in the first place. Doing things quickly, cheaply, cutting corners, well, it falls apart just as fast. Let’s build this house on rock!
When you want to make big life changes there is no quick, easy, soft, and simple way. You have to go deep, go through the muck and darkness. Dig by hand if you must, question everything, change everything.
I can no longer look for the easy and fun ways of faith. The ideas on manifesting and dream boards, the affirmations and hanging prayer beads on my rear view mirror. The bumper sticker that lets me ride the fence and the Virgin Mary candle in the window, the big gold Buddha on my mantle. I have to find out what I believe, I have to find my faith and then grow my roots deep, deep into the earth until there is no storm that will uproot me. I love many ideas of the Christian faith, I love the gospel praise, the contemporary Christian music, the Christian movies and the overall Christian lifestyle. We already live 90% of our family life that way and are zooming toward 95% (need to keep some wiggle room here).
So, I am going in to decide once and for all if I’m in or out. Some people go to church once and that’s it, they are sold. I was raised by a crazy attorney and interrogation is our family way. I was raised to question things to the death if need be. I don’t think that will be necessary but I do feel like I’m in a court trial and this could be a long one.