Been in a funk the last few days and I'm working really hard to shake it off. But first I need to get some things out of my head...
I've been asking religious questions the past year or so...because I want some answers. It is not, nor has it ever been helpful, for people to tell me the following:
1. You're just not appreciating the good things...counting your blessings...fully enough.
2. You shouldn't worry about what other people have and you don't. Alternative to this one is that your suffering is nothing compared to others' suffering. (I'm not really sure how the two coexist, but they seem to.)
3. You should read your Bible and pray. or...you just need to have faith.
I'm sure there are more, but these are the key ones that really bug me.
I have fully counted my blessings. I appreciate them more than you could ever know. But you see, I'm hung up on this one point...my son is dead and buried in the ground. That doesn't mean I don't love my living son with all of my being...it just means that I mourn for what Alex lost. I don't give a rat's ass what other people have that I don't...all I grieve is what we lost...my family, our community, the world. Does it bother me that other people have happiness? No. But it does remind me of what is missing in my life. I don't want what THEY have...I want what WE had.
Telling someone who is lost in a forest that they should have brought a map is NOT helpful, and it is similar to telling someone to just pray or have faith. Good grief, do you really think these questions come up out of the blue and are given no thought at all? Because I don't understand your version of God, I'm somehow ignorant and/or stupid? I ask the questions in the hope that I will find some guidance. I'm not looking for exasperated sighs and eye rolls. I have read the Bible. Aside from the beautiful stories and the long-winded family trees, I have found very little "truth" there. You could lock me in a room with nothing but a Bible for a hundred days and my son would still be dead and I still would not understand.
Now, I have my suspicions as to why people throw these pat phrases out there. First and foremost, people don't want doubt to touch them. Just as people shy away from you when you experience death, people shy away from anything that causes question of their belief system. Even if they never internalize the questions themselves, they are uncomfortable even having an association (however loose) with any form of doubt. Maybe they are worried that perhaps God will hear and punish them? I don't know. But I have found that people, when asked enough questions about their religious beliefs, will become almost defensive and throw one of the above comments my direction (and the number of acceptable questions seems to vary by the individual).
I find that I lump people into two groups I can respect...those that simply believe (and admit that they don't know why)...and those that will try to answer your questions (no matter how long it takes and how many times they have to repeat themselves). There are very few people in these two groups. The majority of people that I have run into fall into the middle/third group...the group that gives up on you. It's almost as if they say, "You're never going to 'get it,' so why bother trying?"
There are certain things that are not helpful when dealing with someone who is grieving...and they're not well known (but really should be). I truly feel there are similarly things that are not helpful to say to someone who is having a crisis of faith. And there are things that cross both lines (Hey...It's not at all helpful to tell someone who has lost a child that they aren't really suffering...if only they will see it from an eternal perspective instead of an earthly one).
Why are so many afraid to examine what they believe and share it with others? Why does the sharing seem limited to only the crowd that already "gets it?" Doesn't that seem a little redundant? Isn't your faith worthy of examination and scrutiny? question and doubt? Or is it a point system where you only get to heaven if you never ask a question?
My fortune cookie for today said, "Keep a green tree in your heart, and one day the singing bird will come."
I'm still looking for books. I've started reading The Buddhist Handbook, and it is really quite interesting. I'm only at the very beginning, so I have no insight as of yet...but the history that has been presented makes me identify with the Buddha already. A search for truth...a search for something.
There...it's all out of my system and I'm ready to go out and enjoy this sunshine...maybe hunt up some chocolate for my afternoon snack. My son is still dead and I still don't have any answers...but I have sunshine and chocolate. See? I count my blessings all the time!