I once felt that life was black and white. That there was an absolute right way of living and an absolute wrong way. There was morality and immorality. No grey areas. That was back in the days before I had children. Children do change us.
On days when I ponder the nature of God, I think often about the trajectory of my spirituality. It is intimately connected to the experiences of my life and to the many ways in which I have had to reevaluate my beliefs of right and wrong. I have vacillated between believing in God and not believing for a long time. I now completely suspend belief in the myths and childhood stories of the bible and the religious upbringing of my youth, mostly due to my heart and mind being unable to accept the inconsistencies of those myths with what I have learned and lived in my brief time here. But there is a part of me, I now realize, that wants to believe in a higher power who just loves me unconditionally, like a parent.
Those times when I am awestruck at the color of the trees on a crisp, blue-skied autumn day, or while flying far above the earth looking out the plane window at the beauty of the cloud formations, the color of the sky at twilight and the vastness of the world below; it is at those times, I feel there must be a God. Every fiber of my being feels it.
Then there are those days when I am equally certain that there is no God. If there actually were, he/she would have to have evolved, as I have, as a parent, to the point where he/she would just love his/her children, in spite of sometimes not liking them very much as they pay absolutely no attention to the lessons unsuccessfully imparted to them. A God who might have grown past the fire and brimstone and judgment in the stories of him/her in the bible, that is a god I could believe in.
Come to think of it, perhaps God did evolve, maybe that is the point of the Jesus story and we humans just got it all wrong, as we do so many things. Suppose God didn’t kill his/her only son. I mean, what parent would kill their only child? Just suppose he/she came to us in our own human form to die for us himself/herself, which is what any parent would do for their own child if they needed to be saved. Especially when, as a young, first time parent, he/she set such high expectations and rules for us, which we, as children, were bound to fail at and to break.
How many parents, myself included, said things before having children, such as, ‘I will never allow MY child to behave like THAT’ or ‘this is the way MY household will be run when I have kids’, judgment oozing from every molecule of our being as we watched hapless others struggle with their own kids? Practically all of us have lived to eat those words.
As I watch my children’s peers, as well as my nieces and nephews, starting to get married and have children of their own, I desperately want to save them from making all the mistakes that I made in parenting. To tell them to not judge everyone else as they will be sorry. But, is that really wise? If I had not made all of those mistakes, would I be as empathetic and non-judgmental as I am now? Personal growth cannot occur without insight. How can we have insight if we never make mistakes?
I would love to save my children’s generation of parents from all the pain and heartache they most certainly will face, some of it directly stemming from their own rigidness and expectations of their offspring. Yet a part of me knows that without personally experiencing that pain and heartache, they have no chance of evolving into compassionate, loving adults.
So I suppose I believe that if there actually is a God, his/her own parenting of us probably has resembled my evolution as a parent. Completely sure of ourselves at the beginning, with the expectations and the illusion of the perfectly behaved kids who grow into the lives we dream for them. Later, those same dreams crushed by the inevitability of these miniature versions of ourselves fighting to be who they are, living their lives freely and with natural curiosity and with hearts and minds and dreams of their own.
After our own dreams wither and die through our kids failing at being what we wanted them to be, and after the path we had set for them is not followed, are we not better people who are more able to love one another in a truer, less judgmental way?
According to the myths of the bible, we were all made in God’s image. It certainly makes it a bit easier for me to believe in a deity if I can compare my own experiences of parenting while evolving into a less judgmental, more compassionate person, to God’s own possible evolution as our heavenly parent, instead of holding fast to some rigid dogma and the myths of organized religion. It actually makes perfect sense.