Our Lady of Introspection has found the Lord!
As a young girl I was taken to church every Sunday, but at the age of 11, after much thought and extensive “Are you there God, it’s me, Julia. God? GOD? SERIOUSLY ARE YOU THERE?!?!” diary ruminations, I determined definitively there was no God, and the whole religion thing was bullshit. My father declared it “a stage,” but I remained an insistent, sometimes belligerent atheist for the next 15 years.
I used to make that the punchline to my jokes about my religious beliefs - or lack thereof - as if, “HA! How could something I feel so deeply and surely, for over a decade, possibly be ‘just a stage’?”
I sure showed him.
Except … like so many things our parents espouse and we reject as children or young adults, he was right.
It was just a stage. A long stage, definitely, but a stage nonetheless.(Then again, isn’t life just a series of stages, as we slowly evolve into new people? Hmm. I guess that’s another post.
But wait! Initially, that's all that was published in this post. Then, she completed her thoughts. It continues:
In any case, last year I had a bit of a … well … there’s just no other way to put this, so I’ll phrase it hella cheesy and just get it out of the way: I had a spiritual revelation. There. I said it. Now go make fun of me, because I certainly would have, if I had heard someone else say that in years past.
Except that it’s true, that’s what happened, and it’s thrown my entire world into a sort of crazy inversion. A lot of things I thought were DEFINITELY, ABSOLUTELY, SURELY WITHOUT A DOUBT the case are simply no longer as clear cut.
I still don’t believe in the traditional judeo-christian anthropomorphic “guy with a beard” God. But I believe in something. I believe we’re not alone, and I believe this world isn’t random. I believe in karma, and I believe in love - not the romantic, dopamine filled drug-like Valentine’s Day love, but the eternal, unconditional love that surrounds all of us.
And now I’m veering dangerously into slushly-makes-no-sense gush, which wasn’t my purpose here. My purpose was to ask you about the title of this post, specifically, and to tell you that I’m going to start to have conversations with you about spirituality.
I don’t think enough of us are talking about it - or if we are, we’re not talking about it enough. I was required to take two theology courses in college, but, bullheaded as I was, I dismissed anything with the word “God” in it as total crap, and came away (unsurprisingly) not as enlightened as I might have been had I opened my mind.
So I’m going back, if you will. I’m reading a few books and starting to have these conversations. More importantly, the tenets underlying my daily interactions with other human beings have started to take on a spiritual significance.
The lessons aren’t complicated - in fact, they’re all cliches. And none of them even have the word “God” in them. But they mean something to me now, more so than they ever did when I was an avowed atheist. Strange, right? I can’t really explain why, but they do.
1. Treat others as you would wish to be treated.
2. Be kind.
3. Judge not, lest ye be judged.
4. Turn the other cheek.
My question for you concerns #4. Can anyone tell me what this means to them? I want to read more about it, because it’s something I feel I’m being asked to do now, especially as people say hateful things anonymously on the internet. The truth is, I don’t know how to react. Should I try to understand their motivations? Where is this hatred coming from? Should I talk to them? Ignore them? I keep hearing “turn the other cheek” in my mind - which is why I started writing this post - but I’m still confused. I need detailed instructions, please! (ha)
Beyond that, where do you go to talk about sprirtuality? I don’t feel like organized religion speaks to me, but I know that I want to start a conversation.