So, on Saturday, we went to The Festival of the Turning Leaves just like every year. Only, this time, we were helping out at a booth for the Farm Heritage Trail – unfortunately, that site is very out-of-date but it still gives an idea. In any case, we were tasked with giving out pamphlets and pencils. The kids enjoyed helping – they all got in on the act! However, Calvin did an outstanding job, as you are about to see.
As a kid I used to be terrified of Hell and all that went with it. The hot, the torment, the being kept from the people that I loved….
I spent much of my time praying, asking to be forgiven and for God to come into my heart because, yanno, that’s what you must do to avoid hell. That meant that EVERY night before bed, I would pray. And pray. And pray. I frequently would fall asleep before I finished because, unlike my grandmother who “had the Holy Spirit” and was spoken to by God, I never felt God “enter” my heart. If I would say something about this, I’d be instructed to pray harder. I knew I must be doing something wrong. I would pray more in the hopes that I could feel what my Grandma did. God never spoke to me. No matter how much I prayed. I knew I wasn’t a good Christian. Maybe God didn’t want me. Maybe He knew my secret doubts and concerns!
Most anything I would do would make me feel guilty so, of course, I would pray. I’d feel guilty for not praying if I’d forget. I’d feel guilty if I fell asleep before finishing. I’d feel guilty if I listened to “devil music” or read something that might have been “not of God”.
I knew that my sole purpose in life was to serve God. That was also the only eternal purpose as well. It didn’t sound like much fun to me, to be honest. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to spend an eternity worshipping and fearing a divine being. It all honestly sounded a bit twisted, like a controlling boyfriend. I just wanted to live and enjoy life but I was terrified at the thought of burning forever.
My first marriage was mostly because I felt guilty becauseI was having premarital sex, even though I’d been having it for a couple years. Unfortunately, I did so to the detriment of a relationship with someone who I actually loved. He would die before I ever had an opportunity to apologize to him.
Eventually I started questioning things. I figured either I was a bad, unsavable person or something just wasn’t right about what all I’d been told. I was on the fence awhile but then after Elias died, I really began to question things. Especially after getting involved in online support groups for bereaved parents where most of them actually say things like how things happen for a reason and God took their child, etc. How the fuck can anyone love or worship something that would do that to people? Many take comfort in seeing their child again in Heaven one day. I’ll be honest. I’m kind of jealous of them because since I have come to believe that Hell is basically a social construct designed to scare people like me into toeing the line, it would stand to reason that Heaven, being the total opposite of Hell, would be made up as well.
I have a hard time wrapping my mind around everything. I still have a lot of guilt. I guess maybe I’m a recovering Christian.