It has taken me about a month and a half to put this entry together, and who knows if I will actually publish it anytime soon. This isn’t an easy one to write, not because I don’t care, but because I have too much passion that I can’t explain. I wish I had a solid argument, or not even an ‘argument’, but just a solid leg to stand on to make this entry more reasonable.
Blah. I am getting ahead of myself.
At the end of December, I had coffee with a dear (and darling) friend of mine. Someone who has known me for years, years that not only span my time in Washington, but also my time in Tennessee. She has known me since I was dating Rick, and through our blogs, we have seen each other grow over the eight years we’ve been friends.
Let me emphasize how much I respect and adore her, because she is smart and sweet, and is very tolerant of my whimsical ways of seeing things.
I am having trouble writing this without sounding like I am making excuses. Or trying too hard. Or both.
The one common thread between us has always been God, and how we seen Him. There are many other threads that I have discovered over the years, such as ‘our version’ of adventure, how we see beauty in this world, and our tolerance of others. The main thread I have always held closest to me though, is the way we can talk openly about God. I do not have one single friend that I can be this open with (including Jeremy), and our conversations always seem to come at the perfect time for me. Her experience has been different from mine, and I eat up her stories, and cringe at the parts where it has hurt her. She probably doesn’t know this, but she has been my very own inspiration over the years, in her struggle to find her own truth about God and what role He plays.
This entry isn’t about her struggle though, because her story is personal, and not mine to share.
“Some of us have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that’s their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you’re that pissed that so many others had it good.”
That quote just popped into my head as I wrote that last sentence. It feels right sitting there. What an amazing movie scene that was.
When we met up for coffee in December, I was excited to hear about the changes in her life. I knew she had recently (or, recently to me) embraced some (all? a few? most of?) of the atheist concepts, and I really wanted to hear about it. I did not always have the view of God that I have today, and she has always been someone I look to. This is the same friend who spent two years in Japan being a missionary, someone who had known the SDA world longer than I, someone who actively sought out God honestly. I really wanted to understand her change.
As we talked, it became apparent to me that I was having a hard time absorbing it. Not because I grew up a devout Christian, or a devout anything, and not because I thought what she was saying was misguided or wrong. I just wanted to understand so badly, to follow what she was saying and hear her reasons why, and my brain kept getting stuck. In that hour we sat there, I silently wished that I could open up my head and share with her the lovely pleasure I feel in my spiritual relationship(s) with God, Mother Nature, the universe. I wanted to infuse her with it, help her to see how it really could be, that it wasn’t all pain and sadness. I wanted her to see what I see, and feel what I feel.
I sat there for awhile, wishing all of these things, and finally realizing one important thing: If the end result I wanted for her was happiness, then she was already there. She already felt what I felt, but on her own terms and for her own reasons.
I went home and talked to Jeremy. For me, atheism is hard to swallow, and I needed to talk it out. Of anyone, he would agree with my friend, and I needed to understand. I read this post, trying to gain a different perspective, and it just made me sad. It felt harsh to me, lacking in emotion, and made me feel like a stupid and small child who had just drawn a picture with purple grass instead of green because “it looked prettier that way”. This quote cuts me to the core:
“It is not up to us to prove that God does not exist. It is up to theists to prove that he does.”
I disagree. I disagree so much that I want to make it big and bold for you now, because that is the only way I can convey how much I disagree.
I think the strongest emotion in my attempt to understand has been sadness. This couldn’t be how she saw me, right? The purple grass drawing misguided kid? This couldn’t be how my own boyfriend sees me, right? Just because I believe in the goodness behind the idea of God, just because I silently thank Him for a gorgeous morning, that doesn’t mean I am misguided and wrong in their eyes…right?
I did not always feel this strongly about the planet and my own existence, but I also used to have very short hair. I have changed over the years, grown into my emotions, and now I have true convictions and genuinely formed opinions. I can’t just accept that we’re not here for a reason, that life doesn’t continue for me somehow after I die. I might not believe in a ‘heaven’, but I have to believe that this life isn’t all there is. I can’t just let go of the idea that all the gorgeous things that I see, believe and know aren’t real, but just me being “silly” and idealistic. I feel like I have a really good handle on what/who God is, and I just want to share it with the people I love; show them that it isn’t all religion and rules. I just want them to feel it too.
Then I remember:
“…but a lot of people, that’s their story. Good times, noodle salad.”
Atheism might be hard for ME to swallow, but that is the beauty of knowing people that aren’t like me. Gaining a different perspective on something none of us really knows for certain, understanding each other and being tolerant (or not even that, just being appreciative) of another person and their opinions. If she is happy, and not eating babies out of spite, then I can be happy for her. None of this means she isn’t the same wonderful person I have known for so long, nor does this mean that my boyfriend isn’t someone I can be truly happy with. Coming to this realization took a month or two on my part, but I feel so much better now that I have.
Who am I to try and change or question someone? Especially when they are exactly how I would want them to be. Happy and fulfilled.
“A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”