As I celebrate Christmas this week, I can’t help but continue to think about the story that Christmas is based on and the religious undertones that are part of the true story of Christmas. Growing up in a religious household, the importance of prayer was constantly emphasized to me by my parents and grandmother. It was recommended that when I was having a hard time or needing some guidance to turn to God or to prayer. From my household, and according to my beliefs, Christmas is the time of year when we acknowledge the birth of Jesus and how it has impacted our world and the relationship we have with God. Now, I am not going to get into a debate or break down the difference regarding any organized religion or belief that someone has that is different than mine. To me, they are all relevant. We all have things that we identify with and spirituality means various things to various people. This is just my interpretation.
For me, I believe in God, a god that is watching over us and have a plan for us in a way that is hard for us to understand or even know about. Church was a weekly occurrence and although I no longer attend church on a regular basis, that does not mean I am not practicing my own version of faith. If God is everywhere like they say he is, I don’t need to be in a pew to find him. However, I will also fully acknowledge that there is power in getting together with others who share and want to celebrate that same belief. I will fully describe myself as a Christian and I pray when things are hard. I ask God, and at most times Grammie who I know is with him, for guidance and understanding. I have faith. Period. But I also have questions.
I question how people who are supposed to be Christians use religion and God to discriminate, ostracize and fight battles that are not needed. If there is a God, one who gave us his only son, why do so many bad things keep happening? Why are their floods, or cancers or children who are abused in ways that is unfathomable? Why are their numerous couples who cannot have children regardless of how long they try, and others having multiple children left in squalor and without the love and support they need and deserve? Why do some people seem to have everything good happen to them and others face ongoing turmoil and heartache? For a God who has a plan for everyone, why does his plan suck sometimes?
I understand that these questions are unanswerable and many dinnertime conversations with Grammie has shown me that having questions in my faith is part of building and developing that faith. I am sometimes angry with God. I can fathom that people are given the ability to make choices, but why do some people make such bad ones? How do people hurt each other so much and God is okay with it being part of the plan? Why am I fortunate enough to be born in a world where I have food, shelter and love, but another person born in a different country is not so lucky? It seems unfair. It seems unkind. And it makes it seem that God is not listening to all of those people who are saying those prayers too
Now, I can debate with people whether God exists and we can all sit around and discuss the reasons why he may or may not exist, but that really isn’t my point. My point is, over time, and as more things get thrown my way, I have begun to question my own sense of spirituality and the power of prayer. I can question why I keep asking God to give us a child, or Husband a chance to heal, and when months and years go by, I begin to get frustrated. He is not answering the prayers that I am sending him and so I become jaded and annoyed that he is not listening.
I can look at all these negative things happening in the world and fully question where God is or how he has created humans that can be so unkind. And yet, I also see God everywhere. I see him in the stories of people who miraculously recover from an illness or injury without explanation. I see him in the peace that comes over someone’s face as they face their timely end knowing they are moving into heaven. I see him in the joy of people getting together in prayer, or the birth of a child or the love that two people have for each other that is life-long and ever lasting. There are things that I see almost every day that cannot be explained away besides determining that something, or someone, is greater than myself.
And that is the best part.
I can question God and his plan for me. I can see bad in the world and question why its happening and how it needs to stop. But I can also celebrate Christmas knowing the meaning behind it. I can spend time with family and friends that show me the meaning of love. And I can hope that God and heaven are real so that when I talk, or think, about Grammie or my uncle Davey, that I will eventually see them again. That it is better to live a life having that faith instead of spending a life being a non-believer in order to find out too late I was wrong.
“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal”
– Thomas Moore