It is hard, sometimes, to see faith as a positive. Some of the wisest people I know seem to look down on those who believe; I am almost afraid to reveal to them that I have been going to church and reading a bit of the Bible. They would approve of the first steps of Miriam’s journey, these vignettes I’m writing, but if they knew she’d come through it still a Christian, they’d seriously wonder. (For the record: if you are reading this, I do not fear your opinion.)
And sometimes I wonder, too, because I do have a strong will and a logical mind. I don’t want to put these things away. I won’t put these things away! For was I not created as part of a plan? If my existence is truly preordained, then it is this existence, as myself, taking steps on a journey, guided by the fabled still, small voice. It is the existence of a woman who is part-Vashti and part-Esther, themselves not so different except that Esther never had to face being dolled up and paraded before King Ahasuerus’s men. Vashti did, and she must have known what would happen should she disobey. So she chose her own sense of right and wrong, and I think that’s critical in a person. You must have your own conscience, not just a set of morals to obey. Rules come into conflict; if you cannot choose your road, then you will find yourself in a wolf-infested wood all too soon.
So I do hold to the belief that if we are created, we are created as we are meant to live. I have a hard time with the concept of Satan and Hell because they seem like such easy alternatives; surely we do wrong of our own free will! “The Devil made me do it” absolves us too easily. I don’t feel demons or witchery at work when I’ve gone astray. Consequences bite me in the here and now, not in the hereafter. We do create our own Hell, right here, as one preacher said, and we do that ourselves. We have the choice to overcome and create our own Heaven, or live in our Hell knowing what we have done to get there.
I will note that some kinds of Hell aren’t our choice, but our biology; illness is no more a sign of evil than bad weather. Living in my body, I have struggled, no question, first to find where my heart lay, then to see where it would lead. I had to choose to fight my problems with the tools I had: doctors, medication, loved ones. I could have left it all to faith, but faith wouldn’t have corrected the chemical imbalance that was destroying me. Medication did that. I had to work at the rest. No medication will keep me safe if I am determined to wallow in my hurts.
So I walk in the summer sun, I eat what and when I can, and I tend my soul-garden. I love, and am not ashamed to do so, though I’m loath to take out a full-page ad in the paper. I live slowly, not just because it seems to treat me better, but because I have come to enjoy it. I’ll drive soon, and I’m applying for jobs. That’s the right pace. I’m taking time to decide what I’m cut out for. Tomorrow, I think I’ll put some of that question to you, because I would like more opinions, but I won’t act before October on my schooling. I must not rush the decision; I have borne those consequences and they were not fun.
And when I feel bereft of options and will, yes. I do turn to faith. “Faith manages.” A man made that saying for fictional purposes, but it speaks to something deep inside me. I think I’ll keep it a little longer. Faith does manage, if only to keep my spirits from sinking and me from wallowing; is that not a fine choice in itself? If I am so completely turned around that I don’t know where to go, why not ask for help? And if I’m asking, why not believe it’ll come through?
In the end, I can’t explain why I’m still a very spiritual person. If I truly felt it was nobody’s business, I could go on happily without writing about it, but I think I do owe a bit of an explanation to those who might be scratching their heads. I think it’s fair that you understand that I am a woman of faith, if not of any one creed, and I don’t look down on anyone for believing — or not believing — what they will.