Lately, I feel like God is my abusive ex-boyfriend. I love him, I need him, I cling to him. But he just ignores me and does whatever the hell he wants.
I'm sure I've got the whole thing wrong. But I find myself -- after decades of sailing serene spiritual waters -- wondering why humans need a concept of God so much. And it's a faulty concept. Even if you think you've got some nuanced, non-gendered, humanistic god, let's be honest. It's a dude. And he's in charge of stuff.
But recently that paternalistic Father-Knows-Best God -- who's looking out for me even when it seems like he's not, his superior logic is hidden inside of the koans of heartache -- has been replaced by a capricious, motorcycle-riding outlaw, who I am this close to jettisoning.
The trouble is I need something to surrender to... I try to live my life by spiritual principles -- honesty, humility, service, acceptance. I pray. I meditate. I eat kale. I have genuflected, danced ecstatically, retreated silently, learned Biblical Hebrew, and read Pema Chodren.
Having examined faith academically and experientially, I have learned that I need to lay my burdens at the feet of someone, some thing. I need divine intervention. I need hope. But I also need a better boyfriend.
This uninvited anti-conversion happened around the time I miscarried for the fifth time. Yep, five miscarriages. My husband and I had a blissful, easy, accidental pregnancy with my daughter, and have had a tough time since then.
Miscarriage is not tragedy. It's not losing a child. It's not life in a war zone. It's not living in poverty. It's not even the worst thing that has happened to me.
But it's loss. And it's an icky, secret, festering loss. Hollow, haunting and acrid. It has specific contours. And in our case, those contours have worn a landscape, a small islet, maybe a few dusty acres in New Mexico.
We weren't trying to get pregnant the last time. We were done. Cashed. Past the expiration date. Instead, we were racing to finish our home study to be eligible for an adoption that was minutes from falling apart. I was supposed to bring the birthmother into my OB on Friday. She never showed. Instead, I was at my doctor's office on Wednesday. Pregnant.
And then, six weeks later, I wasn't.
People say really annoying things to you when you're trying to have a baby and can't. I mean, people say annoying things all the time, but loss just seems to render them puerile. I was doubled over in physical and emotional pain, with the simplest of childish questions... Why would God give this to me when I wasn't asking for it -- this thing that I have wanted for so long -- and then take it away? And a dear, kind friend said in a sage way, "Believe or not, God wants you to have a baby. He's sad too."
So, God is either omnipotent and cruel. Or empathetic and useless.
Given all the suffering in the world, it's pretty obvious that there can't possibly be a loving God looking out for us. There's just no way to square that with a single viewing of the local news. Yeah, yeah... "free will." But it's not just people who mess things up. Straight up God, or Whatever, sucks too. Freak accidents. Natural disasters. Even if you account for global warming being our fault, there were still plenty of tragedies to challenge your belief.
And I just kept coming back to the same basic question... Why bother? If God works for you, great. If not, take comfort in knowing there's no evidence that a deity exists. It's human construct that has morphed over time. At its simplest, faith is an expression of our need to reconcile an erratic world through narrative.
So, who needs it?