To Be or Not to Be…Me

I’m having a rough morning. I wonder if Mondays are predestined to be crappy. Okay, I wanted to say shitty, so I’m saying it…shitty. I do this a lot. I edit what I really want to say. I’m not going to do that this morning. Mondays can be really shitty sometimes, and that’s just the truth. I made the mistake of reading a few things on my Facebook feed. This was a mistake. I usually try to catch up on all the happenings in the lives of my friends, leave a few comments, and then play a little candy crush. But today I was reminded why I really should just scroll down to the funny pictures of cats sometimes.

It’s a long story to get into, but what it comes down to is two very simple things: opinion and tone. I absolutely know that my opinion is not the same as everyone else’s. That point has become so crystal clear over the years, that I can say with the utmost certainty. But when did sugary sweet condescension and barely-there tolerance become the normal way to speak to someone? Why does my opinion not count because I don’t share the exact same view as someone else?

I am a kind person. No really, I am a genuinely good and kind person. I actually care about people and try to help out whenever and wherever I can. But I feel like I’m living a total lie sometimes. I can guarantee that about 90% of the people I know are under the assumption that I’m someone I’m not, that I believe something I don’t. I’m going to put this out there right now. Before I say it, please understand that these are my feelings. I in no way, shape, or form, want you to think that I want you to feel this way, and feel free to stop reading right away if this next part offends or hurts you in any way.

I don’t know if there is a God. There, I’ve said it. I don’t know why it’s always so scary for me to say that small sentence, but it is. But that is my truth. I just don’t know. I don’t know what’s out there, and there is a part of me that doesn’t feel the need to know.

I used to live my life under the approach of cause and effect. That’s how I was raised. Don’t do well and God will punish you.  Do well and God will love you and you’ll go to Heaven. Be really bad and you’ll go to Hell. But no one ever wanted to answer my concerns about these black and white rules or any of my questions about existence and creation or my doubts about some of the stories I’d been told.  I was quoted Bible verses and told to pray about it or seek God’s help.

Let me just say that, for me, praying never seemed to go very well. I had two methods of prayer. I would pray for little things,like to ace my math test or for a boy to like me. I confess though, that these prayers always made me feel ashamed. As I grew older, I realized that my shame probably came from praying over nonsense, but at 9 it seemed like a big deal.

The other way I prayed was for help with the scary and sad things in my life. On various occasions I would ask for help with my dad. He was a big drinker and not a very nice one. I thought if I prayed hard enough, something would change. I didn’t like this be-all-end-all approach either. I began to think it was ridiculous to expect something of God that maybe wasn’t in God’s power at all. But again, this fell under the category of: not a question you can ask about.

So it went on this way until somewhere around age 15 and my mom got sick with cancer. I began to pray again in earnest. I prayed all the time, whenever I could, but this time it was different…I had a purpose.  Please save her. Please don’t let her die. Please don’t let her leave me. Please let her get better. After awhile, the tone of my prayers changed, when the hurt in my mother’s eyes changed. Please take her, I can’t see her hurting like this. Please help her, she’s suffering. Please let it be peaceful. And then she died and I changed. I wanted nothing to do with God or prayer. I blamed myself for not being enough, for not praying hard enough, for God not caring enough. I convinced myself that I had killed her, and at the same time felt betrayed by the one being who was the only one who I thought I could turn to for help; who I was suppose to turn to. I would realize much much later that not only was this unfair to me, but it was unfair to God as well.

I was always told that I had to believe, that I had to pray, that I would be condemned and go to Hell if I asked too much, or if I thought outside the normal flow of my religion. Then… I met a boy. He was different from anyone I knew. I told him how I felt obligated to go to church and how I had lost all feeling for it, and that I just didn’t know how much of it I believed anymore. He said, “who says you have to?”. I had never thought about this question before. He asked me if I was being a good person for God or for myself and others. I told him for myself and others. There’s just something that feels amazing about helping others and being kind to them. He said, “if there is a God, do you think God would hate you for just being kind and good? And if you make a genuine mistake, but you are sorry for it, do you think if you meet God someday, you’ll go to Hell?”. I said no. He said, “okay then, leave God out of it. Be a good person, because it’s the right thing to do and you like how happy it makes people and yourself”. I said, “that’s it?”.  He nodded and smiled. It really was that simple. I left it all behind. Once I allowed myself to believe how I wanted, I felt lighter and happier. Oh, and I married that boy.

So, we’ve come back to it… I don’t know if there is a God. Here’s where the problem comes in. In the town where I live, saying I don’t know in relation to anything about God is not the norm. I almost never feel comfortable to be myself, unless I’m around my friends who know me. Even then, it’s really hard. I try very hard to not view opinions as a slight towards me, I really do. I try really hard to be open-minded and hear what people are trying to say. I have also tried time and again to give people I don’t know the benefit of the doubt and be myself around them.

But you know what, that courtesy is not always given back. I get this nasty tone thrown at me when I do open up about how I really feel. People talk down to me in that awful condescending way, but then expect me to hear their message with an open mind.  I’ve had people give me more pamphlets and suggest Bible verses and books that will help me find God, than is really necessary. I have even had people try to lay hands on me to “save” me. It’s exhausting and it really hurts. It hurts to have someone dismiss me like that or ignore my feelings. It also hurts to know you tried to trust someone who you thought could be nice, and they let you down like the rest. I’m tired of explaining myself and having my explanation not be good enough on its own . But mostly, why can’t I just believe what I want to believe? Who am I really hurting? No one. That is the real, honest answer. I’m not hurting anyone at all. The only one that gets hurt most of the time, is me.

So I’m going to keep being me. I’m going to keep trying to trust and have an open mind, even if it kills me inside when it doesn’t work out sometimes. Even if it’s not popular, I’ll still believe how I need to, not the way that everyone wants me to. Even if I lose people who were once friends before they really knew me, I’ll keep showing them who I am. Above all, I’m still going to be kind and help others for the simple joy it brings and the love that it spreads.

Do you ever feel like you’re alone in how you feel? Do you feel like your voice gets drowned out by others? You can tell us about it.

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