I believe that it is perfectly ok to not know what to believe sometimes. Life really is not as easy as I thought it would be when I graduated high school. At that point, I honestly thought I knew what was black and what was white, just as you probably did. However, as I’m sure you experienced as well, several months in the “real world”, which was college in my case, left me without a sense of self, family, religious framework, and really just not sure what to do with my life. I couldn’t live in this confusion so I began to rebuild my world starting with what I would do with the rest of my life.
That was a bad choice. How can you know what to do with your life if you’re not sure who you are, where your values lie, and who is important in your life and why. I wanted to be an anthropologist. I wanted to spend my life learning. With this knowledge I thought I could somehow improve the lives of others, but I wasn’t completely sure how. All I knew was that anthropologists did not harm their subjects. They watch, participate, and truly live among the people they want to learn about. Some go into the field in areas that are in danger of being harmed or destroyed, like Dr. Pace in the MTSU Anthropology Department and find ways to advocate for the indigenous peoples and their rights. Unfortunately, teaching seems to be the staple for anthropologists, and I did not want to teach. I was still confused.
My next “fix it” project was my family. I grew up an only child in an alcoholic household. These households don’t exactly foster health growth for residents, especially children. But there was nothing I could do. I always assumed this was life and everyone lived a similar life. Because I was so withdrawn and angry in my childhood it took me a long time to realize that no, I was in the minority in the upper middle class world in which I lived (at least on the outside). However, with a little research for my Social Work Research Methods course I discovered the numbers on children of addicts and the primarily negative effects it had on their lives. This didn’t help me “fix” my family. Being the only child in the household I filled the roles of The Hero, The Scapegoat, and The Enabler (basically the good one “see, nothing’s wrong with our family”, the bad seed “it’s all her fault it’s like this”, and the one that keeps the addict from experiencing the consequences of his or her actions all at the same time). I had taken these roles to heart an honestly believed this was my place in the world; I was only these roles and nothing else. Then I stumbled into a cheap therapy program.
Religion was next on my “fix list”. I had more luck with this one than any, although today as I write this I am more lost on this subject than any previously mentioned. I found safety in the idea of Jesus being with me all those nights I lay awake listening to the fighting whether I knew him yet or not. I found comfort in his word and his work. I found the most strength in the idea that we each have our own cross to bear, which reflects the images of Jesus on that march to his death carrying the cross he was to be nailed to. It was this idea of my cross to bear that brought my to an understanding of the world around me.
I knew my cross. I found it in my many conversations with Jesus and the Virgin Mary (I had found solace at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church). My cross was the life I had lived until this moment, being the adult child of alcoholics. I’m sure you can understand that this role comes with many weights and struggles. Trust, safety, silence, problems with depression and anxiety, and many more. But what is the point of bearing a cross? To overcome it? Yes, in a manner of speaking. A cross is something you bear alone, with God, and you do with it what you will. Some let its weight take them down. Others carry it in a manner to eventually relieve the weight. I chose to carry it for the rest of my life with the strength to always stay on both feet. I do trust that if I trip or the weight drives me to my knees that God will help me back to my feet.
I was lucky. I had strength through anger that many children in pain don’t have and I had the upper class insurance that paid for my therapy. I’ve seen the damage a childhood like mine can cause. And I refuse sit by and let this weight drive children into the ground, which will eventually be six feet under for them. As a Clinical Counseling Social Worker I am going to work with underprivileged adolescents who have been physically and sexually abused, are the children of addicts, and those children/ adolescents in general psychological need.
My “fix it” list is complete in a way. But in another way it never will be. With the knowledge I now have I will continually update it and continue self awareness and growth. I know my path now and I believe God expects me to get confused from time to time. He knows that it is through this confusion and times of disbelief we find our true selves. It is the knowledge of self that we can truly give back to the world that has confused us so. Whether he was Messiah or not Jesus (I personally believe he was a man) has changed the lives of innumerable people around the world. The idea that God would humble himself as to become part of our world and to die such a gruesome death is awe inspiring to the meek and to the powerful. Adults and children find comfort and hope in his arms, and I believe that is all that matters. I believe if his image as the Messiah brings people to God then it is okay. I understand the argue for blasphemy in the idea of “The Father and the Son”, but I truly believe God is simply glad we are turning to Him. He knows we aren’t perfect and we misunderstand most things we come into contact with.
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