“God makes me nervous when you get him indoors.” Cousins
Recently, a couple of posters have inquired (for one it was more of an accusation) about my relationship with God. I had occasion to spend some time with Him this weekend when I attended a Catholic wedding. This was my second Catholic mass in about four years (the prior occasion was the last time some Catholic friends got married). I was happy to not have to sit through yet ANOTHER reading of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, as this couple chose some more obscure readings. The priest officiating the ceremony was a Jesuit, and he took the opportunity to give us all a sermon that sounded more like a classroom lecture, which I thoroughly enjoyed from the mommy room where I nursed Baby V and listened to it on the loud-speaker. It was about love, something I’m very heavily invested in. And it was moving and inspiring. Baby V lasted just long enough to see the bride walk down the aisle (she was smiling like a kid on Christmas morning, and it was adorable — when told this, the bride responded “It was VERY exciting!”), and then we had to leave the church and find alternate entertainment for her. V’s ecstatic cry of “DADDY!” when she saw Odie walking down the aisle looking dapper in his groomsman suit was one of the more charming parts of the ceremony. We also popped in during the vows, and when our good friend the groom finished his, Baby V announced, “ALL DONE!” I use all-caps, not to be irritating, but to attempt to convey how she has no ability to control the volume of her voice.
Back to the God, churchy stuff. To give you a bit of background, my parents were Catholics. My father was studying to be a priest and attended seminary instead of regular high school up until his senior year. His mother, my grandmother, was quite religious and when she divorced her abusive, alcoholic husband, I think she sent my dad to be an altar boy because she felt he’d be safe with the priests.
Try to suppress your giggles.
My dad has always been the person I went to with any of my Bible or religion questions, but he claims to be an atheist now. As for my mom, when I was a teenager, she split with her second husband, my stepfather, and took up with her boyfriend in the house she’d kicked her estranged husband out of. The house HE bought them (and, by extension, us). When I, in a strange fit of religious fervor that had everything to do with trying to fit in with the “cool” kids who all went to youth Bible study at the local Presbyterian Church on Wednesday nights, told her she was committing a sin by sleeping with one man while married to another (that it was in the latter man’s home added insult to adultery), she merely laughed at me. No, she cruelly laughed at me. She did that frequently.
It explains a lot about me.
My knowledge of Christianity is more extensive than my average high school student’s. I know this because I often bring up Bible stories in relation to literature, and they almost NEVER know what I’m talking about. I took some religious studies classes in college because I was a literature major and my lack of a Christian upbringing put me at a disadvantage when analyzing the Western canon. As a result, I probably know more about who wrote the gospels, in what order, and for what purpose than your typical existential theist.
Last night, in our hotel room in Fort Collins, Colorado, Odie and I stayed awake with Baby V sleeping peacefully between us on our yummy hotel bed and discussed some comments and emails I’ve received lately (or, I should say “Mrs Odie 2” has received). We both had found ourselves full of love and reverence, inspired by the words of the priest earlier that day as well as the joy of seeing our friends united in marriage, so we were having a conversation about spiritual things. We felt closer to each other, witnessing the taking of vows reminded us of that day just three short years ago when we took our own. It’s good for married people to go to weddings, I think. And to just get out of town together in general.
In particular, our discussion involved two different comments written to me professing the belief that a certain nameless blogger (I’m tired of her name coming up with mine in Google searches) had been GIVEN a child with Down Syndrome by God as part of “His plan.” So, Odie and I were talking about what we thought of that.
Because, if you believe that God is a being who sits somewhere (presumably “on high”) and makes reproductive choices for people, then you believe that he gives us specific children based on what he thinks we need. So, to follow the commenters’ logic, K-Hizzle (for shizzle) was given a child with DS because she is meant to be some sort of herald of the joys of parenting her SN daughter. If you believe another commenter, God chose her to be the mother of this SN child because He knew she had the strength of character, heart, and soul to handle it. Nay, to master it, and to be held up as an example for others.
And as for those of us who have typical, healthy, non-challenging children? I guess God has no faith in our parenting abilities.
For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that. I believe in randomness. Stuff just happens. That doesn’t exclude a belief in a creator, however. Not for me anyway. When you get too far into the “it’s all part of God’s plan” thing, I start to wonder about things like human trafficking and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. My grandmother had two baby daughters born between 20 and 30 weeks. Both died. She never recovered from the grief. Did God do this to her on purpose? Was He punishing her? Or was it just an incompetent cervix and horrible luck? I know that there are ready answers for things like that and it has something to do with free will and Satan and God’s mysterious ways, but it’s a struggle for me to go there. Please don’t mistake my shallow dealing with the subject here for a shallow understanding of the topic. I simply don’t want to get into a deep discussion of religion here.
Except to say this. If you DO buy into the idea that God had a plan when He single-handedly oversaw the meiosis that resulted in trisomy-21 for a specific child, and then guided the hand of the mother to write a story on her blog that would “touch the world,” then you also have to believe that my criticism of the blog (not the people) is also part of His plan.
Because despite what you may think, I am not Satan.
The sermon, the wedding this weekend, my discussion with my husband, my reflection on the feedback of my readers have all given me much to reflect on (and genuflect on). For now, though, it is late and I have to get some rest, lest I not have the strength and courage to go back and see what disaster my substitute teacher from Friday has left.
God help me.
Hey! Hope your sub had the gang in control on Friday.
Thanks for going to my blog! I should have entitled it: “If you’re reading this, you’re my sister” as she is the only one who reads it. Or at least, says she does.
Keep writing, and – you know – sucking the marrow……..
I neither agree nor disagree with you here, because goodness knows I’ve struggled with the same questions. I do think there’s a definite distinction to be made between being “religious” and being a Christian. Jesus was not a fan of religion. He told off the Pharisees on many occasions. The whole point of His death and resurrection was to free us from all the man-made rules people had created trying to earn their way into Heaven, which can’t be earned no matter how good you are. It’s all grace, baby. (Can I get an amen?)
I’m sending you a very interesting transcript via FB. At least, I thought it was interesting and I liked the theology behind it. 🙂
By the way, you really need to stop caring what people on airplanes think you. Airplanes are horrible hostage situations where we are all breathing each others’ oxygen for two hours, and a crying baby is just to be expected. Selfish people and their dirty looks don’t deserve space on your blog or in your mind.
Chelsea – you get an Amen from me. I was about to write a very similar comment when I read yours and realized that you said it better and more succinctly. Grace, grace and more grace.
Chelsea is an amazing writer. You should check out her blog too. http://www.halfstepfromcrazy.com.
You gave me a title of ‘the rev’, which I smiled at because I am far from that. I made those previous comments to you as I was wanting you to do exactly what it seems you’ve been doing. I was hoping you’d reflect. I do lots of that, and still it’s all a big mystery.
For what’s it’s worth, and probably not much, but here’s my take on it…
Does God cause bad things to happen? Of course not. We have free will, but then there are also things that are beyond our control (like your example of down syndrome). We humans have such a limited understanding of anything really. So, we judge everything according to how we are conditioned. Society tells us it’s important to be beautiful, thin, rich, etc. for true happiness. Society tells us that if you fail to fit the mold, then you’re just not as worthy as another. It’s horrible. Kids jump for the GW bridge because they don’t fit the mold, kid’s get bullied, adults are unkind to one another. There’s racism, fighting, and the list goes on and on and on. A SN child is viewed as less than, not wanted by most. Same with the elderly in our country. They are an incovenience. They are imperfect in our eyes, and we are certainly a society of people who feel entitled to “perfection”.
(As I use the word “you” to come, I’m referring to people in general and not to you, Mrs. Odie!)…
I believe that God is involved in every detail of a person’s life IF ( big IF here) He knows you. That’s the question, and it makes all the difference. He knows you if you seek him through prayer, and if you acknowledge Him through your actions.
Does God give SN kids to certain people for instance? Well, maybe. SN kids don’t fit the mold, right? Most people don’t want them, consider them to be less than, consider them to be burdensome. We’re conditioned to see it as bad, remember. God doesn’t see it as bad or undesirable when a child has down syndrome, is blind/deaf, or otherwise challenged. That’s because He creates the soul. The outward physical shell matters not to Him. He’s not uncomfortable with a person who looks “different”. It’s the rest of us that cringe or look away. We’re entitled, you know, to perfection.
I don’t think a child with a special need is any more special than any other. It’s just that some kids will require greater displays of patience, understanding, etc. If all kids are gifts, then maybe, just maybe, He does “tailor” those gifts. He may give a SN child to a mother whom He knows possesses great patience, compassion, etc. directly BECAUSE of her relationship with Him. In turn, she can apply all that to a child who may require a bit more help in the world and looks “different”. Maybe another woman has other “gifts” and He recognizes and fulfills that accordingly. That could be in the area of child-rearing, business endeavors, etc. All have the potential to glorify Him, but we choose how we will use our “gifts”. We may even choose to waste our gifts, or not even tap into them.
He has a plan for your life IF you seek Him. I believe sometime, in spite of yourself, he’ll nudge you back on the right path if He knows your heart is pure and seeks to glorify Him daily. What I mean is that He may help certain people, in ways they don’t even realize at the time, to get them to the final destination because He recognizes we are human with weaknesses/short-comings. I think He is always trying to get us to follow Him. Sometimes a nudge, sometimes a whack over the head! Whatever it takes because He loves us, but there will still be those who will turn from him. That free will is always there, and I believe it makes Him sad.
One thing that’s bothered me: what about a woman who gets pregnant and chooses to not allow that life to be born? I come back to that free-will thing. It doesn’t mean that baby’s soul was any less of a gift. It just means that the woman CHOSE not to accept the gift, and thereby limited her own potential. Whether that meant giving the child up for adoption, or raising that child even though it might be more of a challenge that she bargained for.
Because a parent has a child without a special need, does not make their job in parenting any less. Perhaps God has another life event or circumstance He will use (if allowed) to open up a broader view, impact others, etc. Often, it’s just the bad stuff (or so we label it), that causes growth and leads to something marvelous. The stuff that takes us out of our comfort zone. But, it was far from “bad” to begin with. That limited understanding, worldy interference stuff clouds it all.
In the example of down syndrome, a rearrangement of chromosomes could have been in the design. Who are we to say. Maybe that was just the beginning of the plan for a particular soul’s life, and the specific “gifts” that individual (and subsequently those they encounter) will have bestowed on them because of it. It had to happen that way in order for the rest to come to fruition. For some, a unique chromosomal arrangement. For others there may be no outward signs of that specialness, but it’s there just the same.
Did KH get a child with a SN as a direct gift from God. Well, when I look at all that’s going on there it makes me think it’s possible. There sure is a lot of awareness for down syndrome in her case, but in a broader sense I think many are being affected and applying something positive into their own circumstances. I don’t believe that child is here with the sole purpose of getting KH a book deal. No, that child will likely go out into the world and accomplish much on her own, but only because of love and nurturing she will receive in that household. It’s all tied together, and I believe it’s all very complex in God’s design.
Maybe God sees your heart now (this time I am saying “you”, Mrs. Odie!). Maybe you hurt inside because of experiences in the past that have shaped you into being bitter and jealous, etc. You’ve used those words for yourself. Maybe your blog is a tool God is using through other humans to speak to you. That, in turn, makes, (or hopefully makes), us all do the exact same. It does that for me as I’ve been writing and thinking on your words. So, I guess we’re all helping each other grow, perhaps? That free-will thing again coming back at us!
Rev, I didn’t approve your comment right away because it was very long, and 1) I debated whether it was a bit too much “air time” for a commenter who isn’t ShannieO (mwah! Love you, sis) and 2) I didn’t really have time to read it until just now because it was so long and I’ve had a busy day.
I find the “maybe God sees your heart now” comment condescending. Often, people who proselytize their religion come across that way to me.
As far as the chromosomal arrangement goes, when a baby is conceived, so many chemical and hormonal things must go perfectly right in order to create a viable human being, it is amazing that it goes right as often as it does! It truly is miraculous, which is why I think reproduction inspires such awe in us. But I believe it is biology and nature that causes it. Through luck and risk factors (such as age in a case like mine, I’m 38) sometimes “abnormalities” occur. Some of them are fatal, many are not.
I believe in The Law of Attraction to some extent. It’s the old “be careful what you wish for.” I am thinking of a story called “The Monkey’s Paw,” where a couple has three wishes and so one of the wishes is for a sum of money. Then their only son dies in an accident at work, and the company’s insurance pays them exactly that sum. Ever since I read that, I’ve been afraid to wish for money. In my own, life, my younger sister has a family famous story where she was working very hard finishing up her professional licensing hours and for a while had been wishing for “a break.” Over and over, she said to the Universe, “I need a break! I need a break!” On her way home from work one evening, crossing the street to her apartment building, she was hit by a car, breaking her tibia and fibula clean in two. Similarly, a friend of mine made a wish on the summer solstice for “more passion in her marriage.” Her husband had an affair and left her. Talk about passion! In retrospect, she says she wishes she’d been more specific about what she meant!
We’re going to have to agree to disagree, here. I respect Christians and their faith. I admire people who live their faith. But I do not care for the idea that there is a “right way” and your way is it. I believe there are many right ways, and I will find mine just as you have found yours.
And I’m all for growing. I have ceased to publish personal attacks on the blogger whose name I don’t mention because I’m tired of having search engines directing her hateful, rabid fans to my blog and reading their hateful, rabid comments. I feel that my criticisms of HER BLOG (not her looks, nor her child) are legitimate. I believe that there is always room for criticism (as I hope I have proven by accepting some here). My criticism of the blog and its starry-eyed followers stands. And if I bother to go back and read it again (I’ve been too busy lately), I may or may not decide to comment on it again.
And I have a feeling God is fine with it, either way.
That’s so strange because I spent yesterday morning pondering the same subject, more or less. After lying yet again to my father about my Mass attendance (why cause him pain unnecessarily?) I sat and pondered my religious beliefs for quite awhile. I came up with more questions than answers, but one thing I realized is that I think God made me not want to have kids. I have uterine fibroids, a tipped uterus, and ovarian cysts. One of these conditions won’t generally inhibit fertility, but my gyno said all three would make it tricky for me to get pregnant. But the cool thing is, I found all this out long after I’d realized that I didn’t want kids. I couldn’t have cared less at that point. So did God take away any semblance of Mommy-urge from me to protect me and some nice guy from the anguish of not being able to conceive? Granted, maybe He’s also the one who GAVE me all that stuff, and I don’t know why He’d let me off the hook and let so many other couples struggle with the heartbreak of infertility. Who knows? That’s another thing I thought about yesterday. I believe that if God made this massive, beautiful universe, and maybe a bunch of others as well, He doesn’t owe me an explanation about anything. To paraphrase those great philosophers, Bill and Ted: “Nice work on the Earth, God. I enjoy it on a daily basis.”
You bring up great questions that we all speculate on. We have opinions based on our religious up-bringing, lack thereof, or life experiences. For me, I do believe that bad things happen to good people and vice versa. God created each of us. I think there is a laid out plan from the start, however we have the free-will to make mistakes by trying to do it all on our own and leave Him out of it. He watches, and tries to help us back on course if we are a child of His. If we deny Him, then he doesn’t intervene and there is no hope for that life unless that person comes back to Him. The door is always open with God. How great is that!
With your grandmother’s loss of children and subsequent pain, God may have used that experience in her life to allow for something great to ultimately arise. Maybe that shaped her and made her stronger in ways you never knew (ultimately leaving an abusive marriage), but ultimately something good came from the pain because of God and her relationship there. As far as God allowing or creating some children/adults to have special needs, I do believe He may. Often, those with special needs exemplify the most pure and Godly attributes. You mentioned down syndrome. You know, those kids in particular are amazingly sweet and loving. What they may lack for in intellect, they maybe get an extra helping in social graces and human interaction. I’ve known one little boy with down syndrome, and he has a depth of character and ability to just bring out the best in others. It’s hard to put into words, but I just feel it when I’m around him. Maybe God gave him that extra 21st by design. I say that because so much goodness arises out of him because of that, and it carries over to those who meet and know him. I think God may select a family for a child like that based on what He sees in their hearts. I have read the other blogger. She didn’t ask for all the attention she now gets. Before her little girl even arrived, I got the impression that she was a very special mom. I think her little girl needed her, and she needed that little girl, (but not to become famous or enrage Mrs. Odie). I think something pretty special is happening as I’ve read her hundreds of commenters go on and on about how she has inspired them and all. Her child’s disability kind of opened the flood gates to connect her with millions of others in a good way. I don’t know that her child’s disability is a bad thing that happened to a good person. I don’t see it as bad because that little girl will have a great time on this earth I bet. She’ll continue to bring out good in others as she grows and develops a voice of her own. She’ll be happy and that’s really what matters. KH doesn’t appear to have changed, the only difference is that now many people set out to destruct her by making fun of how she parents with the fairy dust and all! I just think many of us short-change ourselves by not being open to someone who may differ. We can learn from so many fellow travelers on the life journey if we stop being fearful of those differences. We really are all just trying to figure it out and be happy. God Bless, Mrs. Odie. I like reading you both, I just don’t comment on either. Well, until just now. 😉
I thought of you after seeing something today. You were bringing up the subject of special needs and God’s plan, (or lack of it). This father’s words and faith are unbelievable. It still doesn’t give answers for why there is suffering in this world, but what a difference one little boy made in 99 short days. Maybe that is the answer after all. We aren’t supposed to know for sure, that’s the meaning of faith. -To be certain of what we hope for and sure of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Go to you tube and search on “99 balloons eliot”
Hmmm. Loaded topic. I’ll reply anyway. 😀
I talk a lot about how I believe God specifically gave me the kids I have for a very specific list of reasons (some of which I’m not yet aware). I think God is nuts half the time for trusting me with such a hefty assignment, but that’s neither here nor there right now.
It’s funny, autism was always something I was so scared of. It terrified me, and this was way before I even became a mommy or had thoughts of being a mommy. I became officially terrified of autism after seeing the movie “Son Rise” in the late ’70’s (wave your old lady flag high, girlfriend…it’s okay). After I got married and was planning to have kids, I always prayed silently in my head, “God, I can handle any special need you throw at me….anything but autism. Just not autism.” When I got pregnant, I was terrified of autism, and torn on the whole vaccine issue (silly me). When my first child was born, I broke down in tears at the pediatrician’s office, terrified to get his first vaccines because of the ever present autism boogeyman. Because God has a very twisted sense of irony, my first child is autistic, as you well know. God nailed my ass with autism anyway, no matter how much I protested. The dude invented the platypus, though, so who knows what the hell he was thinking? I digress….
Anyway, autism has been both a blessing and a curse for me, but much more a blessing. Pivotal, life changing, terrifying, soul-shattering events have happened in my life and my marriage because of autism. People have come into my life that never would have been there if it weren’t for autism. I have grown as a person so much because of autism. I can’t help but think, God definitely had a hand in this.
As much as autism kicks my ass on a daily basis, there’s a reason it’s a part of my life, and I believe that reason is because God has some sort of plan for me.
Anyhoo…that’s as deep as I’m getting right now. Yeesh. I think I’ll go cleanse my mental palette and read makeup blogs for a while. 😉
I would throw this question out to everyone who says God is involved in our lives on a daily basis. What do you think His purpose was for letting all those people go to work at the World Trade Center on 9/11? Or be unable to get out New Orleans for Katrina or away from the shoreline of 1/4 of the world for the Tsunami? Why does he send doomed miners down into a dangerous mine or peasants onto a bus that plummets off a cliff? Why would he let millions of people starve to death yearly? And wipe out entire towns with disease? I don’t think God spends much time dealing with the day to day stuff. I believe that He gave us everything we need to make a paradise for ourselves in our little lives, and then moved on with best wishes and plans to see us on The Other Side. I think He steps in and helps out on occasion, but I can’t imagine He’s orchestrating everything, like a Sims player with their 6 billion member family. I’m not criticizing. What He’s created is mind-blowing. But there’s a lot of area to cover, and if He’s just sitting up there, doling out suffering to teach EVERY SINGLE ONE of us a lesson, I don’t know if He deserves all those nice buildings filled with people thanking Him on a weekly basis.
When I’ve expressed this view to Christians, many times I’ve been told that “They’ll pray for me.” That’s really nice. I have no objections. I hope God will hear them through the din of an infinite amount of beings that fill His creation, and forgive me for my silly ways.
Sorry, Mrs. Odie. You probably didn’t intend for such lenghty dialogue to go on here. I’ve been reader but never a commenter until this topic I probably would have continued to read only, but I just couldn’t stop myself on this one. I know I’m not changing anyone’s mind here to see things as I do, but it is fascinating to hear how others go about their daily lives with a belief or lack of belief that accompanies.
I have been trying not to comment on this for days now. I don’t wish to write a novel here, I just wanted to give a shout out to the non-Christians of the world who also have a special relationship with God. I am a deeply religious Unitarian Universalist which in and of itself is an oxymoron. While I don’t have what I would call a “personal relationship with Him,” I do believe in a diety(ies) (most days) and I do respect the many opinions on the subject.
Mrs. Odie 2, I have to “side” with you about the issues surrounding conception. You know my story and my trials with staying pregnant and I cannot allow myself to believe that God thought I needed, deserved, or asked for what I went through. What I do believe is that he saw it happen, went “oh shit” and fixed it.
I’m interested to know what you mean by “he fixed it”. If you agree with Mrs. Odie, then God hasn’t a hand in conception or the entry of a soul into this earth. So, why do you then say “he fixed it”. I’m trying to understand, not to pick on you, so please don’t be offended. It seems contradictory.
MO2’s grandmother had horrible suffering but also some “luck” in childbirthing, else there wouldn’t be this amazing blogger that I call my friend. What I was saying is that maybe some of that “luck” is divine. MO2 is right that it’s a miracle that any of us comes to be and I’m saying that I had occasion to prove both sides of that argument in my life and the only hand that I believe God had in it was the “oh shit” I mentioned above.