For the longest time, people have been encased in the belief or non-belief of God.
Nations have fought over whose God was the true God, scholars have studied endlessly the rational and mystical elements of God. Villages have bowed to many, while continents have bowed to one.
What is God?
This idea of God is rooted in mystery. Many people live their lives hoping they are following the life God wants of them, but no one really knows for certain what God wants. The only thing people have is belief; belief that God is guiding their path, influencing their behavior, or having nothing to do with them whatsoever. Each person believes in a different relationship with God, whether that is a loving relationship, or no relationship at all.
My “Relationship” With The “Almighty.”
My own relationship with God is fickle. When I was in middle school I was discussing God with friends, slowly becoming aware of my own Catholic upbringing as I learned about their Muslim or Jewish upbringings. In high school I was — as most rebellious, fishnet-sporting teenagers are – engulfed in a defiant relationship with God, seeing God as a dumb idea that only idiots believed in. By the end of high school, I was so devoted to God that I did the readings at Sunday Mass, began a Church youth group, and even went out of my way to have discussions with priests and Theology teachers.
This continued for years. I taught my friends prayers, I attended Mass regularly, and I even staunchly defended the beliefs of theists whenever atheist friends of mine regarded them condescendingly.
Until something happened, something even I am not fully cognizant of.
Right up until the middle of my junior year, I held fast to my beliefs by going to Mass, praying, and living the life I believed God wanted. Even in my most desperate hour, when I felt all the world was filled with darkness and I wanted nothing more than to leave the world behind, I slept in a church. I put my head down on the pew, and fell asleep, because I felt it was the only place in the world where I was at peace.
And yet, despite this, I find myself feeling empty when I think about my “relationship with God.”
The first time I felt this feeling was last Christmas. I was about to sit down to dinner when my grandfather, as he always does, insisted on saying grace. I remember saying the words, holding my brother’s hands, and thanking the Lord. Yet I didn’t buy it. Although everyone else at their table had their eyes closed, heads bent in prayer, my eyes were open. I remember thinking in that moment that I simply couldn’t buy the idea anymore, and every word I spoke that night felt hollow.
I wouldn’t think this were a problem – belief in God is not a requirement of a happy nor meaningful life – if I didn’t think it had something to do with my decreased interest in connecting with people. About half a year ago, my better half at the time commented on how much “fire” was in me during one particular night, the kind of fire she hadn’t seen in me for a while. That was when I first started to wonder if some kind of fire had gone out within me, causing me to become less connected to people around me.
Something has happened to my relationship with God, and I think consequently to my relationships with others. Something has happened that I myself am not aware of. Somehow, in the last couple years, I have grown cynical of the idea of any kind of “personal” relationship with God, concurrently becoming more and more cynical of personal relationships altogether.
And I think being here is partly to do with that relationship. I haven’t attended Sunday Mass in as long as I can remember. I haven’t prayed or looked to God for anything. Somehow, I have lost a relationship with God and with others, and I can’t help but think that that is a reason for being here, working with both priests and people.
The work I do here — as I’ve been told — is, “depressing,” “heart-breaking,” and “traumatic.” We work with the forgotten, the downtrodden, and the displaced. We work with people whose lives have been ravaged by things outside of their control, things that are in the realm of “God.” God is also the most important thing in most of their lives, and the word “God” is no doubt going to be a word I will hear often. I think that, if anything, the work I will be doing over the next 6 months is going to define what I believe about God, good or bad.
Every morning, our office holds Mass before we begin work. I decided that I would keep an open mind and go to Mass with every one else, to see if there’s any part of me that still believes in a personal relationship with God, the way I used to. This is just the beginning. I will have many experiences over the next 6 months that will make me want to write about God, and that’s just what I plan to do.
I think that, one way or the other, my being here will result in either the continuation of my relationship with God and with others, or the complete severance of them.
I’m not sure which is more likely, the only thing I know for certain is that my mind is open to either, and we will see which one fills the void.