Facing death has a way of making you question your religious beliefs and stripping you raw. God and I have had a long history together of me asking questions and Him trying to get answers through my thick skull. It’s not that I don’t want to learn or listen, I just tend to be independent and rebellious. And age has not necessarily tempered that.
First dark night of the soul: at fourteen
That year I spent most of the summer talking to the ceiling trying to convince myself that I didn’t believe in God. Luckily, He gave me a warped sense of humor so after I spent so much time focused on the ceiling of my bedroom arguing with God, I thought who am I trying to convince that He didn’t exist? myself? Him? I finally started laughing hysterically and said, “Fine! You win.”
The rest of my teen years I spent going to Bible studies and learning the “fundamentals of Christianity”. I later married a man who decided he wanted to study to be a pastor. That brought about:
The Second dark night of the soul: at twenty-four
I never expected to get a divorce. In some ways, to this day, I still don’t know exactly what happened. But I can tell you that one of the instigators was the First Baptist church we belonged to and my stubborn spirit that refused to let my life be stamped everywhere, “First Baptist Approved.” I got so tired of sanctimonious fools coming up to us in the foyer of the church. They never said, “Welcome. How nice to meet you!” Instead, they had a mantra that they repeated until I wanted to scream, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?” Oh, I can’t tell you how many times I bit my lip to keep from saying, “Where ever you aren’t!”
So, wrapped up in our marriage was this controlling church and when I left my husband, they sent men to visit me in my hotel room and this is the verse that they shared with me: Hebrews 10:26 “For there is no longer any sacrifice that will take away sins if we purposely go on sinning after the truth has been made known to us.” Meaning they had convicted me and I refused to change so I was damned. It was awful. I just needed time to think away from their badgering.
The irony of it was when I told my husband what they had done, he was so angry because he knew that was the end of our marriage. I would never bow down to that kind of bullying.
What came after that was years of living lightly. I read quite a few books that stimulated some new age religion belief patterns in me, but nothing that ever became as all-encompassing as “Fundamentals of Christianity”.
I discovered and become comfortable with reincarnation in Brian L. Weiss, MD.’s book “Many Lives, Many Masters”. I explored other options in “A Course in Miracles” by Helen Schucman and William Thetford and I enjoyed several books by Jerry and Ester Hicks including “The Law of Attraction”, “The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent” and “Ask and it is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires”. All of them would eventually contribute to my “new age religion beliefs and fundamentals”.
Third well not really a dark night of the soul, mainly just a realization at 50 something
By this time, I was the on-site manager for a senior apartment building in Burbank and we have a variety of religious beliefs here along with different ethnicities. One of my Armenian tenants was trying to figure out who I was religiously speaking. She first asked if I was Jewish and when I said no, she asked if I was a Christian and I suddenly realized that according to the “Fundamentals of Christianity” I didn’t really think I could say yes. I was adrift without fundamentals! And I stayed that way until:
The fourth dark night of the soul, really. It started on December 27th, 2018 when I had a stroke.
And went on for the next nine months as I dealt with a stroke, a bout of kidney stones and an aneurysm that had to be repaired. Five surgeries when I wasn’t supposed to even get close to anesthesia for 9 months after the stroke.
Oh, did I mention that I didn’t even call the paramedics until the following morning? Did I mention that one of the doctors told me I was the luckiest woman he ever met because most people with my heart condition don’t even make it to the hospital?
Did I mention that when they went in to remove the blood clot on my brain, they found the aneurysm that could have burst at any time and most likely killed me but instead they were able to fix it?
Did I mention that 2 famous and younger people than I had strokes and died while I was recuperating?
Did I also mention that I had almost no noticeable damage from the stroke?
Was I fucking lucky or blessed? It depends on who you talk to.
But suddenly I had survivor guilt and an intense need for “Fundamentals”. It just seemed so rude to ask God for help after I basically ignored Him for years. But I really needed help.
I told my sister, who has been the rock in my foundation for the last 9 months how I was feeling with tears running down both of our faces. “Why me, Sis? Why did I survive when so many other people didn’t?” She said, “Because I need you!” Oh my, gushy tears happened after that!
I wish I could tell you I have the answers
But I don’t and I am not sure I ever will.
I have a sneaking suspicion that everyone’s answers are different possibly because everyone has different questions. I will try to share my journey to find the “fundamentals” with you and hope you will be inspired to share your stories as well.