I thought I knew everything. Or at least pretty close. It took a long time to become wise, and by wise I mean to realize how much I don't actually know. And for a while it's left me feeling pretty faithless and lost. Being so sure of what's what, what God's doing and in charge of, what you can expect of him--gave me a bona fide sense of security. A false one I'm beginning to believe, but boy it sure felt good. I started out trusting God for everything. In everything. I honestly think I was a bit deranged looking back, I thought my "contract" with God made me invincible. From parking karma to the promise of being healthy, wealthy and heaven bound, I was on a roll. And for someone like me, especially who I was back then suffering from panic disorder, feeling like my feet were firmly planted on definitive ground felt really good. I spouted Bible promises and believed for a while that that was all it took. And then I lived a lot more of life.
I tend to believe that if you are a conscious person on a spiritual path you will, eventually, grow up and begin to see more of what is authentic and true and real. Ideally taking responsibility for your own life and fearlessly letting go of what no longer serves that life. For me that began with taking a good hard look at the beliefs I held onto because I needed to, to feel safe. Black and white, guaranteed, thinking was a cozy nest I found refuge in for a long time. But then tinges of gray began to seep in. Messy life unfolded all around me. People died. Babies slipped through the cracks. World (and in my own backyard) hunger and unspeakable suffering and loss began to make it impossible for me to continue to believe in a micro-managing, uber-interventionist God. The facade -- of my being super special and somehow impervious to anything bad because this God, who seemed to be asleep at the wheel an awful lot of the time BUT would always be awake for me -- was crumbling. Humility was turning out to be the cloak the type of grown up I wanted to be must wear, and with it came the realization that I knew far less that I could have imagined, and the truth was, I could never, ever really control God. Or anyone else for that matter. And for a phobic like me that was a rude wake up call. It still didn't stop me from trying.
If I'm honest I think I was sent reeling for a long long time. My mind, oh my truly busy, overworking mind, was off to the races trying to calculate what I COULD count on God for, exactly. I then moved on to include the Holy Spirit and Mother Mary as a back up plan. Or maybe to hedge my bet. What can I count on THEM for? I was feeling my way back to what kind of guarantees there might be in my new paradigm (old habits die hard). There were none. Not in the typical sense. The "I do this" and then "I get this" kind of thing. "I don't like being a grown up so much," I thought to myself, and then I pouted. I gave God the silent treatment. What was the meaning of everything if it didn't come down to how it served it me? I'm a Leo, it is what it is. I used a line on God I had read somewhere, "If you would just do what I told you to, I wouldn't have to be so bossy." It was written by a 4-year-old girl.
The truth was, I just didn't fit in those shoes anymore. And perhaps that was a tiny bit of grace alive and well in the midst of all the madness of life. When I reflect on what I can believe in or count on it is much more abstract. Like an amazing painting that constantly changes the more you look into it from different angles and light, depending on where you stand. Maturity for me means no longer being able to believe something I know not to be true because of some need to feel in control. "Not knowing" has to be OK for me. Gray feels good because it feels real. I'm reminded of a Flannery O'Connor observation, "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." I have learned to stomach a whole lot more, a miracle really. I know I believe in the action of love and in my own intuitive voice and that God goes to his own drummer. I know that I can think before I act, take responsibility for my life, and that no matter how painful it can be, there are also wonderful surprises. I also know that wily God, who often goes by the name of grace, sometimes shows up unannounced and stays for dinner. And then I can breathe again. No matter what I know or don't know for sure, I'll take love and faith, with a side of peace any day over living in fear, which for my money takes a life time of practice.