Hi again! It's me, the “confused atheist wanting more” person. Haha. Thank you so very much for the time and consideration you spent responding to my question. When I was a child I did read “The Chronicles of Narnia”, however, I didn't read them with any intent to analyze them allegorically, so to speak. So, it might be a good idea to re-read them. Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate all the advice you gave me, and I am seriously considering checking out churches in my area. I guess I do feel a sense of shame, as you guessed, because no one in my family will understand my desire to explore the idea of God and religion. My boyfriend of almost seven years would definitely be confused.
This is the one thing that keeps popping into my head though: Every time I sense something more, pulling at me, as I described, I am left wondering if that feeling is confusion or if that feeling is God? How will I know? When I sing gospel (I sing in a school chamber chorale) and I get chills and teary, is that God calling me? When I hungrily read/watch/listen to people talk about God is that a message? I just don't know. (I'm not asking for literal answers from you, just writing what goes through my mind.) There are tons more instances when I feel this way, I of course can't think of them all right now. I'm scared that I will over-analyze every feeling I get and forever doubt myself. I'm scared I will open my heart to God and not find the answers I'm looking for. I guess I'm really torn about my feelings.
At any rate, thanks so, so much for taking the time to read my messages. I know you are a very busy woman. And just a little info on me, I am a 27 year old woman living in Los Angeles. I keep this anonymous because I have friends and family who read my tumblr and this stuff is personal.
You’re welcome, completely, feel free to send in questions again anytime you want…I wish I had a clearer answer for you about discerning the voice of God, but in the end I think it really does come down to faith.
Just wondering if you'd seen this set of water photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jolenemonheim/sets/72157600051549707/
I found one of the photos while going through some old Flickr favorites and thought of you.
All the tags on the "creating a monster" "foot in mouth" "dangerous honesty" image and the fact that you have a non-public lj journal entry the day after & haven't updated since...make me ask what is going on?? Are you ok??
The private entry was just a to-do list, I frequently make to-do lists that are for me only because I like the way you can use the <s> html and cross things off on lj. There IS a lot going on right now - Isaac broke his arm and I got hot oil splattered on my eyelid cooking and I got a sudden facebook apology from my x-stepdad and molester than unhinged me a bit…planning for Elise’s birthday party tomorrow.
As for the picture, yeah, I feel like that a lot lately…it’s a long story to do with Grant and I and it just seems to get worse the more I say :/
Pictures like this INSPIRE me (to go out and spend a bunch of money on candles). And to light a million candles at once. I have never been willing to care that candles are fire hazards but in the bathroom especially I’m awfully cavalier because, you know, everything is non-flammable - tub and tile walls and floor and toilet, come on, let’s go nuts!
This is really the sort of thing I seem to be going for lately.
But the other evening I had a near disaster when I suddenly realized there is still something highly flammable in the room when I’m taking a bath.
It would be such karmic retribution for me to light my hair on fire, after all the years I’ve retold the story of my mother lighting her hair on fire while lighting a cigarette in my childhood.
Now that I’ve come within a millimeter of this and seen charred baldness flash before my eyes, it really seems like only a matter of time.
I’ve been thinking about my favorite movies and what they “mean”, what they REVEAL about me (eyeroll…but really). When I say favorite I mean things I’ve already seen at least 3 times and that I could probably watch many, many more times, and that I quote from, and that real life remind me of, and possibly even that either captured or influenced something about me in a significant way.
In No Particular Order:
-The Royal Tennenbaums
-The Big Lebowski
-The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-The Little Mermaid
-Bram Stoker’s Dracula
-James and the Giant Peach
-Disney’s Sword and the Stone
-Clerks, dragging along behind it a cloud of all of Kevin Smith’s movies
-Romeo and Juliet (1996)
-Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
I’m afraid the main thing revealed here could be that I’m a female born in 1981 :p
This might sound strange, but it's something that has bothered me for some time now. I was raised an atheist. Though my parents are very open minded, and they told me I could believe what I wanted, I definitely fell into their belief system. Yet, I somehow have always felt this pull towards religion. When I was 17 I had a seizure while I was driving (it was the first time I'd had one, and I don't remember it) and though I was driving on a five lane, very busy road, I managed to maneuver through oncoming traffic, through a fence, and stop between two trees. I was completely unharmed. I am so drawn to the concept of religion and God, but I find so much of religion to be very reactionary and not something I can agree with. I am left feeling unsettled. I want something more in my life, and I have always felt a pull to believe in God, but I just feel like I can't accept Christianity the way others can. Do you have any thoughts? Am I completely crazy?
road, I managed
First of all, I don’t think any of that sounds strange or crazy.
I wasn’t raised Christian, either. I was raised by…hmm, how should I put this? A father who put me through Baptist K and 1st gr only because it was the only available non-Catholic private school, but stood on the principal’s desk and threatened to beat him with his own paddle if anyone there ever breathed one more word to me about hell again. A mother who never mentioned God in any context but feared church and refused to come to my baptism when I was 15 or 16 (can’t remember; I had become a believer earlier that year through independent channels). And a stepdad who thought he was making fierce intellectual arguments for why God couldn’t exist most of the time. He said stoner philosphical bullshit like, “What if this whole universe is just someone’s dream, and then they wake up o_O?”
I’ve always felt that pull, too, and I have often distrusted it. Thinking I just want to belong to something, or that I’ve been culturally influenced to think that being Christian is more legitimate (as I thirst after legitimacy), or that I’m drawn towards a fantasy world that is validated by outsiders now that I’m too old for imaginary friends, or a million other things like I want a parental, nurturing force that is guiding and protecting me since my parents kind of fell short in that department. It really doesn’t SEEM like any of that but HOW CAN ONE KNOW?
But I have had pretty wild experiences, too, like the one you describe. Greater and lesser ones, and really, I do believe in a spiritual war. I do believe there is real evil and it influences and tempts us and I think that our doubts and skepticisms can sometimes actually be that influence at work. How do you tell what is perfectly valid skepticism and what is some kind of evil influence keeping you from Truth even when you’ve been blessed with miracles?
FUCKED IF I KNOW!
I really don’t.
But. I will say this. Anytime I have prayed to and read about and “followed” Jesus, my life has been better. I’ve been happier, I’ve been more productive and more resilient, I’ve been more help and resource for those around me. It has only ever enhanced my life, in small and immeasurable ways. RULES, doctrine, church shopping - those things have given me enormous grief and stress. And I do think Christ sometimes leads us to them because it’s not all help and strength and love - those things are huge and they’re there but being Christian is also a challenge to examine yourself, to give more, to do better, to forgive when it’s REALLY HARD and rearrange your priorities…and it’s hard to keep praying and keep reading and keep following without fellowship, or accountability, or reminders, and so you kind of need a church. Kind of. Need.
This is a weird time for me to give out any kind of advice or wisdom. I’m not feeling especially wise. I do believe God calls people. I have been known to weep when a song with the line “I have heard you calling in the night” plays.
I would urge you to ask around or browse the internet or whatever you have to do, and see if there is a Catholic Church around you that has a lot of ministries and groups, that has good music, that caters to young AND old people (sometimes in separate Masses, sometimes not). A good litmus test is sometimes, “Does this church have a drum set?” ;) A good website is a good sign that they are relatively with the times and have a fairly large membership. And just…go one time and see how it is.
For me, kneeling and chanting and crossing myself and all the little things that are interactive about Mass, amplify that pulling and tugging at my heart x a million. It can be intimidating the first time, depending on your own anxiety levels, to not “know what’s going on” at first, but nobody is paying attention to what others are doing and you’re unlikely to be the first “first timer” anyway. Over 118,000 Americans are joining the Catholic Church for the first time this Easter. That kind of blows my mind, because the picture that’s painted in the media is of this dwindling thing that’s nearly gone…but that is really not the case. Lots of things about how the church is portrayed are completely ridiculous and/or outright false. Remember, every Christian person is an individual with their own set of baggage and history re: faith - it’s not really that everyone accepts it as they might seem to. Most people in a church will tell you about the time when they didn’t believe or left and came back, and some about the struggle they’re having right now.
Or, if that is just way too much for you, and you want to keep it personal, get a bible (I recommend the NRSV translation for top notch historical and language accuracy in a less-“forsooth and hitherto” style…it’s a good balance). Start with things the Apostle John wrote - namely, 1 John and the Gospel of John. See what you think.
I love John. Truly, deeply love him. And I think his books are some of the best, and some of the easiest for people new to the bible…
I just had the weirdest notion. Have you read the Chronicles of Narnia? C.S. Lewis was a deeply Christian man and was using the whole story as a Christian metaphor that hits me very hard. They are good books that lots of non-Christians love, they drag in spots but make up for it bigtime in others. I think your path of least committment and change could be to read them…they do pretty amazingly at explaining all kinds of theological stuff as well as expressing Christ’s love, all in stories kids can understand. And then you can watch the movies if you want :p
Also keep in mind that prayer takes many forms. There is rote prayer, like the Lord’s prayer, and random praying where you make up your own words, and then there is silence - just opening yourself up to God and LISTENING. And I think that can be the best kind, sometimes.
Ultimately you can’t logically prove the existence of God, and you’re probably not going to get an angelic visitation urging you to move towards Him. You have to try it, reach back towards that pull, open the door that’s being knocked on or whatever, and see what you think. You either open yourself to it, or you don’t, but so long as you’re hanging back NOT open to it, the answer is never going to come. If you open yourself up, I can’t guarantee that it will, but it might, you know? Wanting “something more” is entirely valid and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of it. I don’t know that you are, but I got the feeling in your note that you are self conscious. I think just about everyone in the world feels the longing for “more” and at least a need to explore and research spirituality at some point in their lives.
I hope something here might help you in some way. Feel free to ask/say anything else that occurs to you.
what is your least favorite word or words? as an example, a couple of mine are BENCH and NAPKIN. i just hate the way they sound.
Hmm. I really hate the word “angus” and loathe that it’s used so much in food marketing. I don’t like gooey either, or understand how it’s ever supposed to be appealing (I’ve heard it in Taco Bell ads and erotica and I don’t know which is worse…)
For a long time I could not stand the word artichoke, it just always sounds like the literal desciption of a heart attack to me, but I got over that.
“I was glad, if also ashamed, to discover that I had been barking for years not against the Catholic faith but against mental figments of physical images. My rashness and impiety lay in the fact that what I ought to have verified by investigation I had simply asserted as an accusation.”—Saint Augustine, talking about his conversion (via fathershane)
“May Lent be for every Christian a renewed experience of God’s love given to us in Christ, a love that each day we, in turn, must ‘re-give’ to our neighbor, especially to the one who suffers most and is in need.”—Pope Benedict XVI (via my-crazy-catholic-life)
You always talk about your attempts to lose weight from a medical perspective (you need to lose weight to have your procedure done, etc.) and I know you prefer a curvier physique in general...but do you ever actually struggle with body image and self esteem issues? You just *seem* to not care and I wonder, if that's the case, how you got there. Or have you never cared?
HELL YES I struggle with body image and self esteem issues!!! Particulary in how I loathe and get very upset over most pictures of myself and leave fitting rooms feeling miserable.
I think that I do have an innate sort of sense of self worth and that I am attractive overall that honestly FEELS like it stems from being the cherished first child, first grandchild, etc and being told how beautiful I was and dressed up like a doll and posing for cameras and video cameras nonstop in my first 10 years. When I look back I don’t think I actually was an especially cute child at all, but I sure as hell thought I was, and some of that innate feeling remains.
I also have this massively huge set of issues with how my abdomen is, though…it LOOKS like everything I’ve had done to me and a life threatening lot of trauma, to me. Like a real horror movie freakshow.
It sort of goes like this: I think I have a pretty face, even though I know I have bad skin. I love my hair and think it’s better than everyone else’s even though I know most women would hate having my hair and immediately chemically change it. I eat up the way my skin contrasts with my hair and eyes and try to dress for it. I am totally aware and don’t give a damn at all, that my feet are heinous and beyond gross. I love my breasts and always have, though I fear what will happen when Elise weans and I lose weight.
I guess I do DO certain things to help with this. I don’t read fashion magazines. I don’t look at celebrity websites or watch cable tv. I do regularly peruse sites like shapeofamother.com and hed_change.tumblr.com and my favorite bloggers are often people like jamievulva.tumblr.com - who embraces her stretch marks and belly pooch and all that, and posts naked shots talking about how people need to love themselves. It DOES have a big effect to spend too long “paying attention” to airbrushed, plastic ideals and can help tremendously to just go to the grocery store and look around at actual people.
I have a huge sex drive and a lot of erogenous spots and that kind of “helps” me to continue to be comfortable in my own skin.
I feel like the body I had in high school was the perfect ideal body and I would kill to get back there. BUT…I thought I was fat then. I mean I knew was hot, but I also felt like I was fat, in the way many attractive but insecure teenage girls are, I guess. I always had a WEIRD guy or two or three obsessively in love with me, but I was never a girl who popular or mainstream guys would glance at twice, if that makes any sense.
That kind of defines how I feel about myself now, actually. Like I frequently look in the mirror and think, geez, I can’t even imagine how I’d get ripped apart if I posted a shot on hotornot or some stupid shit like that…but FUCK WOULD I SO DO MYSELF RIGHT NOW!!! DAMN!
Also/P.S. I would encourage you to find things you like about yourself and find ways to play them up or focus on them more. Like these two pictures here totally make me look insanely hot even though I understand they don’t accurately represent how I’d look if you just walked up to me. But I mean they are also the truth of certain angles and, again, damn I would so do myself ;)
I guess a lot of this is how you feel about yourself as a person, looks aside, too. It’s sort of automatic to me to perceive struggles I’m having as transitional or temporary, and to view more permanent flaws as part of a larger whole. I don’t know how I got there, that is just how I’ve always been. PTSD and failing so spectacularly at birth has been a big challenge to that, and gave me my first REAL issues with sense of self, but, I’m working through it…it’s not as bad as it was a year ago by any means. That whole deal makes me think most people who have really low self worth probably have a/some specific traumas or perceived failures that are holding them back….
Firstly, I really appreciate your honesty. In general! It is why I read your journal. Secondly, I agree with you w/r/t a lot of the animal stuff -- homeless people taking care of their animals or those without "animal funds" being able to own pets, kids having pets. However, the stuff about breeders vs. shelters, and people just not spaying/neutering being ok, made me kind of horrified to read. I don't expect everyone to educate themselves about animals to that degree or exert a whole bunch of energy, but come on. There is overdoing it, and then there is basic ignorance, and compassion for other living thins. Breeders are BAD and unnecessary unwanted animals due to lack of spay/neuter are BAD.
I think it’s ok to want a specific sort of animal so that you can know what to expect in strengths, weaknesses and personality traits, and I think it’s ok to want a new puppy so that you can know you are not getting an animal with a major history of abuse/neglect or an ingrained lack of training…not everyone has the time and energy to put into re-training an animal with serious established issues, and if someone has kids it often just isn’t safe even if you want to :/
Grant and I have gotten shelter animals over the years and I have seen the “shelterness” in some of them, for want of a better way to put it…..a mixed breed dog I was told would be small to medium and was very smart grew to be an ENORMOUS, untrainable beast that chewed it’s way through a garage door, destroyed LOTS of furniture, and was almost impossible to keep indoors if anyone ever opened a door or window…this was like a movie-nightmare style dog :/ Aaron’s cat, Peter, seemed incredibly friendly in the Cat Network cage but has proved to be a terrified, permanently traumatized cat. It’s basically ok as he’s Aaron’s, and Aaron loves him and can socialize with him (they even sleep together), but NOBODY else can touch this cat - it’s wild how he ducks and skitters and races from anybody and everybody (he was found in a dumpster with signs of abuse as a kitten, poor thing) :/
When I got Chrysanthemum from a Maine Coon breeder I knew I was getting a kitten that had been played with and pampered and loved daily, who would grow to be a cat that always wanted to be in the room where I was but didn’t need a lap. Which was exactly what I wanted, and it was awesome, though I felt obligated to rehome her through a rescue when it came down to it as the mixed breed kittens were far harder to find homes for than her and we just couldn’t commit to four cats…It was my fault she got pregnant, etc. And I love the kittens, too! I really do. I don’t know if I’m doing a good job of explaining here. But I think that breeders - RESPONSIBLE breeders - are far better options than pet stores for people who want a specific sort of puppy/kitten. I think getting an animal from a rescue or a shelter is a great option for people who can/do. But I understand why it’s not always a good option. I understand you are “gambling” with temperament to some degree regardless but still, I think you are definitely hedging your bets to get a pure bred animal with known characteristics, who has been in a loving home from day 1…
I mean I think it’s possible to make a strictly logical (no emotions, no individual circumstances) argument as to why it’s selfish and unacceptable for anyone on this planet to have a biological child when there are so many homeless kids who need fostering and adoption, but…come on, you know? Life is not that simple…There are a lot of factors at work here.
As for spaying and neutering, I think it’s obviously important to try to do. I explained in another answer the confusion that led to Chrysanthemum getting pregnant before she was spayed, and that our bunnies and ferrets were spayed and our kittens are spayed/neutered now (as is Aaron’s cat). I was just saying I don’t think neglecting to spay or neuter an animal is a reflection on somebody’s overall character as a person. And, that all things considered I am glad we got to have that experience of Chrysanthemum’s kittens being born and growing here with us. I understand that’s selfish but when my kids are benefitting in such great ways it’s hard for me to get upset about it. Now that I saw how cool the whole situation was and understand the network of animal volunteerism that is out there, I can totally imagine fostering a pregnant cat at some time in the far off future just for the experience.