May 25, 2015

What I've Been Thinking About (God talk)

I made myself some tasty coffee, the kind my grandma would hate (almost syrupy-thick and black, sweetened with sugar, brewed in a Moka pot), and I felt like catching up.  I haven't written for a while because fatigue has been kicking my ass.  I've taken a couple trips out of town this spring, but day-to-day it's taking care of this sick body, passing time, and not much else.  Being chronically ill takes a stupid amount of time and energy.

The last year or so I've been thinking about God and religion.  I have almost no direct experience with religions other than Christianity, so that's the stake around which my thoughts graze.  I do believe in God and Jesus, and I'm fully aware that this is a choice I've made and others have made different choices.  I've had some bad experiences with churches and people, but since that's not enough reason for me to write off people I also decided not to write off organized religion.  However, getting to church is very difficult for me, as is sitting and paying attention for an hour plus, much less both in one morning.  So I haven't been doing that.

Uh oh, now the caffeine's really kicking in and I'm jittery.

Illness does this interesting thing when it steals your energy: it forces you to distill life down to what's essential.  Part of this simplification means that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about hypotheticals.  If God wanted me to spend my days doing and thinking about all kinds of God-stuff, I'd be not sick and actually have the energy for that (or so goes my reasoning).  Instead I think about my basic needs and ways to cope with pain, fatigue, frustration and loneliness.  But most of what I read about spiritual life focuses on spending so much time thinking about God and what God wants, or what we think God wants, or what we think God might want us to want.  I do almost none of that.  BUT, since everybody else is focused on God as micromanager, I don't get messages of "hey, what you're doing is different but I still think it's just fine."  I'd maybe worry about this more except I don't have energy for that.  So shrug.

I do like angry Jesus, though.  Having seen things from the "widows and orphans" side, I like the Jesus who throws tables over in the temple or eats sabbath bread while giving a "what are you gonna do about it?" look.  At least that's how I imagine him.  He's also the guy who got nailed to a beam and left on a hill, and I can related to that kind of pain and loneliness.

Sometimes I play a mental game where I calculate the total amount of pain in various scenarios.  You take Value of pain (V) x Length of pain (L) = Total pain (T).  Being eaten by a bear would be hideously painful but short, so might actually be preferable to being eaten by cancer over the course of years.  Short illness also doesn't steal parts of who you are the way chronic illness does.  But acute pain has the disadvantage that you're not able to adjust to the pain, unlike chronic pain.  Over the years vast tracts of real estate in my brain have switched from thinking to not thinking about pain.  It has the benefit of keeping me alive and sane, but I'm also dumber than I used to be.  Anyway, that's what I think about during Game of Thrones fight scenes.

I'm not sure where I was going with this, but I'll wrap up anyway.  I try to be the best person I can and listen to that voice that tells me yea or nay (Jiminy Cricket, God, or prefrontal cortex, I don't know).  Part of what makes us human is questioning our thoughts and actions.  If life is building to a final exam I just hope that my best is good enough to pass.


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