This I Believe

Duo - Madison, Connecticut
Entered on October 14, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

Blue State Belief

Between the ages of two and fourteen I had grown up in a John Cheever short story. Sunday School was a welcome respite from my classically dysfunctional 1950’s suburban family. Once in high school I did not go to church for the next ten years. Not unusual for northeast America –the Blue State Heartland.

Truth be told, my decade away from church was not filled with guilt. Even though I was pretty distracted, I knew I would ultimately have to deal with a looming question. – What happened to God?

Unlike first century Rome, it isn’t fatal to be a 21st century Christian in Connecticut, but acknowledging God is not common practice. When “believer” status is revealed awkward smiles or raised eyebrows often follow.

I have to deal with the polite prejudice of those who find faith either foolish or threatening. How would I respond to my patronizing friends who I knew would treat my belief in God as a quaint tradition, an aesthetic hobby of lovely words and music based on ignorant fear of the unknown?

But any arguments that are based on intellectual rationalizations use the very tools that makes all organized religion so easily mocked, rejected, and feared – especially here in Blue State Land. These arguments are just like every church ever built and every translation of the Bible: they are human acts. Even though they are intended to bring us closer to God, these human attempts carry the baggage of our humanity –they are flawed because we are flawed.

Dismissing or accepting God on the basis of deductive reasoning assumes we know what’s real and what’s a rationalization, and that’s pretty shaky ground to stand on. I, for one, cannot tell anyone what to believe, for I’ve walked away from belief. But for the Grace of God, my life would be a hopeless, broken mess. When asked about my faith, I’ll answer, but proof of God or of a Godless universe cannot be found in carefully crafted arguments or science, so I don’t even try. I have no control how people respond to my belief in God, it is simply a fact of my life.

How did I realize I could not deny God?

In the worst times of a troubled childhood, Grace happened. I didn’t earn it; I did not design, plan, or create it. I just prayed. The minute I knew that again, and acknowledged God after my ten-year vacation from Him, I felt a palpable presence. A still, small voice -a wordless voice that I could not and cannot ignore.