I just spent a week in California for work. I have always loved the Monterrey and Carmel area. I also have found that I prefer to visit on my own. I don’t enjoy working around what other people want to do or deal with how they travel. I have lived alone since 2002 so I have gotten used to having things my way. I just tried to enjoy the view as the driver crossed double yellow lines to pass people and took us on a ride without checking the gas tank first. I was just a bit on edge.
I made the best out of it and relied on the girls from the retreat to redirect my mind to more important things. I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with the title of this post. Well, our last stop before the airport was Santa Cruz (no one checked to see if anything would be open by the time we had to leave.) We spent from 8 am to 10:30 sitting around waiting for something to open.
We were all watching a wiffle-ball tournament while we were waiting, when this family from Korea came up to us – Mom took me, Dad got the intern and daughter took the other of the three of us. At first when Mary came up to me it was like she was a fortune teller and I expected tarot cards to come out any second, but then she asked if I went to church and what my faith was. It was difficult to explain my faith to someone who has a defined image of what everyone should believe.
Now I was raised Christian and I believe in God, I have been baptized 3 times. I have a very solid foundation of faith, however, over the years my concept of God and my perception has grow and morphed into something I don’t think has a name. It is my relationship with God as I know it through my experience not just straight from a book, which different people interpret to their advantage.
I am not an expert on the Bible nor do I expect others to believe the way I do. I believe that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead by his father, God. My concept of heaven and hell are not what they were when I was growing up. I believe in a loving and forgiving God who wants us to learn and grow. He wants us to be examples to others, but not be perfect. Noone can relate to perfection, it’s unattainable. People can see how we respond when something horrible happens and learn from what we do when times are tough or even unbearable.
I don’t attend a church because when I do eventually it turns into putting people in boxes (good and bad, heaven or hell). I think blind faith is worse than no faith at all. We were given these brains to learn, question, grow and come to our own conclusions. It is important to be in a community of faith. It is also not our place to judge an others religion, unless it involves harming people. I don’t believe God wants us to blow up abortion clinics, or condemn the GLBTQ community. Who are we to judge?
Honestly, for a long time I thought that hell was living life here on earth, because I was always in pain and afraid. Heaven would be dying and getting out of this place. Now, I couldn’t tell you if there is a heaven or hell. I believe God kept me alive in this world for a reason. I have chosen to be as kind, loving and generous as a possibly can. I have gotten to a place where I can forgive the people who have harmed me and let go of those who are toxic to me.
Forgiveness is an amazingly freeing thing, but there are those who do not deserve our forgiveness. There is a brother that I tried to forgive for harms done to me. I needed to do the best I could at the time to save my life, but it never quite settled in my heart. I went through a process where I was able to forgive those people I love and want to keep in my life and say good-bye to those who are toxic and leave them for God to sort out. I truly feel free now.
Faith for everyone looks different and it is up to you to know what feels right for you. We get to choose our faith, who we forgive and who we set free. We choose the direction we want our life to go. It’s free will and it is a gift from God.
I do not believe, anymore, that the sexual abuse, emotional abuse and the physical abuse were punishments for things I had done. Today I believe that it was God and my faith that gave me the strength to get up and fight again and again and again. You will not beat me! My life is important!! I am here and I am strong, deal with it!!
As in my politics, I am firm in my beliefs but not extreme. If you don’t agree with me that is fine, if you do that is fine too. If you feel the need to be negative and attack my beliefs, don’t waste your time, I don’t care what you think of my beliefs.
Take care and live life!
Brenda the Brave