Today I’m sharing something that maybe seen as controversial or may be hard for some people to read. Please know that I’ve tried my best to get my words out in a thoughtful way. I’m human. What you believe is what you believe, and that’s okay. We can still be friends. We can agree to disagree. Here are my thoughts on where my life experiences have led my beliefs.
For the past two years I’ve worked with families of kids with cancer. What I’ve found is that as kids get sicker, families seek God. Each day I opened thank you notes from families across the country thanking us and praising God. Families of kids with cancer, thanking God, talking about how blessed they are. And I’d just sit at my desk and stare at the letters, feeling strangely proud and slightly confused. When the absolute worst happens, why is God the answer?
Over my two years, I had many intense conversations with loved ones about this. Each time I couldn’t see how any God would let such terrible things happen to wonderful families. To beautiful children. Any merciful God would not have let a dear friend of mine, age 18 and dying of Osteosarcoma, linger for so long, in so much pain. She retained her faith until the very last moment, while I lost hope of ever finding mine.
When I’d have this discussion with the faithful people in my life, they’d implore me not blame God. But if we can’t blame God for the bad, why should we praise him for the good?
I’ve had many people use the phrase “God only gives you what you can handle” and let me tell you, I (and many families I worked with) strongly dislike (see how I didn’t use the word hate? I wanted to, oh I sure did, but I didn’t use it) that phrase. I’ve yet to see a family who can “handle” the loss of a child or sibling. A piece of them is gone forever. This phrase doesn’t lessen pain or provide hope.
Certainly we can’t blame anyone but the individual(s) for human acts of terror. But when it’s something as tiny as one cell mutating (after all, that’s how cancer starts), who do we blame, God or science? Perhaps it’s my lack of maturity to look for someone, something to blame. Although I’m not sure how anyone could see kids dying and not look around and wonder why.
N and I have talked a lot about what we believe and what we want to raise our kids to believe. Neither of these involves a higher power. I’m a good person. I know that in my heart. A heart that doesn’t beat for Jesus or because of him. It beats because of electric impulses in my body. It beats because I grew cell by cell. Just as you may believe in scripture, that is my belief.
Until he met me, N had never been in a religious building of any kind. He hadn’t been in a mosque or a synagogue or a big stone Catholic church. He didn’t know what it meant that I was baptized Episcopalian but that I come from a predominantly Catholic family. He’d never heard the nicene creed and was shocked to see me recite it, word for word, the first time we stood in church together at the obligatory Christmas service. He had almost zero religious influences in his life. Today, he is one of the best people I know. We both agree that religion isn’t necessary to turn out “right”.
And I’m sure you’re wondering (or you know, without a doubt), what if she’s wrong? Well I might be wrong. With all the world religions, all the atheists and agnostics, someone has to be wrong. I’m telling you, it could definitely be me.
But here’s what I’m hoping: If there is a God, if I get up to those pearly gates and Jesus, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, or even my great-great grandmother comes out to greet me, I’m guessing they’ll know I lived my life in a good way. That I tried to help people. That my moral compass was strong and that I deeply loved and truly lived and hopefully, made the world a better place. And I bet they’ll let me in anyway.
So no, I don’t believe what most of the world believes. I’m definitely in the minority in blog world. But that’s okay. I sleep just fine at night.