Monday, November 26, 2012

Reasons and Revelations

I was a weird kid. I remember walking around the playground, looking up at the sky, and wondering what the purpose of life was. Some days when the sky was overcast and white I wondered if it was god’s blank sheet of paper –His canvas- that He often chose to paint on. I would often stair outside the window at school and day dream about different things. I was never really hip to the times or present to the moments around me.

I remember wondering about reincarnation and feeling a strong sense of familiarity with the concept. I believed I chose my mother and these circumstances up in some place of light from a list of people I could literally see before me. But I never talked to anyone about anything. At least not until the 6th grade when by accident I had written a paper on how I’d wished there was a pill that made people live forever because I feared the uncertainty of death so much. My teacher took me aside and asked me questions about it. It was embarrassing. I made the mistake of trying to talk to my family therapist about the paper, but she told me she wasn’t that kind of therapist.
All I understood at the time was that nobody understood. 

Then I met Katie. We really didn’t talk until high school though. It was sophomore year when she came as a freshman. I was a lonely loner who had acquainted myself with her in the 8th grade. I was in the locker rooms at lunch reading books and avoiding the world. She kept trying to include me in her group –which grew quickly into a bright and elated woven quilt of friends. I felt I belonged more in the shadows than with them –an odd fitting puzzle piece. But she always built me up and looked at me like I could do anything. 

Katie had the white light. The first person I ever knew who had it. Michelle, another girl in our group, had it as well and I felt closest to them, though I often hung out with other girls who’s company was equally appreciated. 

I was tall and quiet. Not a good combination. Like a giant Sasquatch who follows the group around but never quips in –lumbering over in silence. I was just listening. I often felt that since they carried on conversations just fine without me I had nothing of any real value to contribute anyway. 

I grew more and more tightly bound to the group and soon I joined them on Tuesdays for FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). I was a non-athlete non-baptized non-officially-Christian who had never read the Bible.  But I liked the sandwiches they served at the meetings, and my friends were there, so I went and pretended to know what the hell was going on. They mostly preached to us about not having sex, doing drugs, cursing, lusting, hating God, drinking… things I wasn’t doing anyway. And I wondered, “Why preach to the choir? If there were any teens doing that why would they go out of their way to hear someone preach that they shouldn’t do what they were going to do anyway? Unless they really liked the sandwiches too…” 

I never really felt/ heard God in any of it. But Katie seemed to have something to do with Him. She had the white light. She led the group. She was the one everyone turned to. She would go out and talk to complete strangers and try to make them feel better. She was the one building everyone else up. I later found out she was an Aries –my builder sign. She represented God far more than any preacher I saw at the FCA meetings. 

It was from Katie I first desired to read the Bible and find out more about God. I still felt close to Him in my own way, but I felt He didn’t think about me much. But I wanted to reach Him. I tried to read the Bible once, but like a burger that’s too thick for you to take a bite into, I didn’t quite know where to begin. But when I stepped onto the Santa Clara University campus, the path was laid out for me. Let the professionals handle it and lead me through the Bible. 

SCU requires you to take 3 religious courses throughout your 4 years in college. The first is called “Religions of the Book” –aka studying directly from religious scripture. Everyone always takes the same class “Western Religions” which studies Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 

My teacher was a Sagittarian priest/ douche bag. He was very anal and particular about the readings. Unfortunately for me most of the kids in that class had directly transferred from Catholic schools who had already covered the Bible in depth. I then found myself out of my depth in the class because the teacher assumed everyone was already familiar with the Bible. I hated him for it. He f*cked up Christianity for me. It hurts. 

The Bible was never intended to be quickly skimmed through and Cliff Noted. I was a random semblance of names being born from names wandering from one ancient foreign land to another. I missed the stories and the point. Christianity and Judaism blurred into one and I was getting marked down on my interpretations of what exactly was being expressed and spoken of in the Bible –which was a lot more metaphorical than I realized. I felt like an idiot. 

But with Islam it was different. We walked slowly through those waters and chartered our course with care and patience. I understood Islam and lost Christianity. 

The 2nd class your required to take on religion is more from of a historical perspective. I took “The Religious History of America” which opened my eyes to the evolution of various religions in America and how they changed over time. Often Christianity was used in abusive ways towards citizens –justifying things like slavery and unjust laws. Needless to say my views on Christianity became tainted –not for the religion itself but for the people who took advantage and bastardized it. 

The 3rd class you take on religion is a free-for-all. It can be on any religion –and in fact is required to be one you are unfamiliar with. I took “Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and the way they relate to Nature”. My eyes were opened through Buddha’s. It was then I realized I had the choice to change my perspective and see things in a different way. It opened my mind and it opened my soul in a lot of ways. It freed me. But I still felt deeply attached to God –who at this point I felt I could not reach or come to be accepted by thanks to all those nice sins listed out in the Bible that still excluded me even in my uneventful life. 

It was then that I handed my life over to Him. I was lying in bed one night silently crying. I couldn’t take the fact that I was “trapped” in a body and a world that never gave a sh*t about the things I held incontrovertibly relevant. I just wanted it to end. So I figured if I’m not going to do anything with my life I’ll hand it over to God and maybe He can make something out of it. Even if I become a nun and only help one person in this life it would be more significant than anything I could have otherwise achieved on my own. So I did it. I silently told God whole heartedly to take it. Take my life as your own and do what you will with it. It’s yours. 

Shortly after that the dominoes began to fall. 

I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and put on medication to combat it.
I joined Toastmasters to practice public speaking.
I joined Twitter and started a blog.
I started working at a temp agency.
I was led to Usana and found out about my health and how to better take care of my body.
I moved out and got my first apartment.
Found out about the Zodiac signs and started studying them to understand myself and others.
Started writing heavily.
Met Alex who walked me through the beginning of the Bible and helped me realize God’s vision.
I also learned that I had my own level of inherent spirituality I could trust in.
I was then led to WFG from my friend Ayu and learned about Financial Planning –which is really important in a recession.
Started working more at Amulet.
Started creating art of one form or another on a regular basis.
Started attending church regularly.
Felt happier and more secure in my life.
Grew exponentially as a person. 

My life came together after I gave it to God. It’s like the gathered all the broken pieces up and sewed them together. By 2011 I knew I wanted to get baptized. But I didn’t think I was “worthy” or that I could until I read the Bible all the way. 

I don’t remember the exact moment I committed to the concept of baptism. I had seen earlier classes for it in the church programs earlier in the year but never really pursued it. I think it just began to sink in on me closer to the event that there was nothing to wait for. If in fact the world did end on 12/12/12 –what excuse could I use to explain to God why I hadn’t committed fully? I was kidding anybody. And my thoughts kept returning to the welbeing of my soul and the desire to commit fully to this path. 

I’m not delusional. I know my path doesn’t include fame or stardom or money or power or anything glamorous and maybe not even romantic love and kids. I’ve always been on a spiritual path –much to the confusion of some family and friends. It is what it is. No use pretending. So why not just deliver myself over to it fully? 

I decided Thanksgiving –a week off of work- would be the most convenient time to do it. I didn’t even know if they were offering baptism at that time but I committed to it. My mind locked into place and I decided to do it with no hesitation or looking back. Thanksgiving week before 12/12/12 it will be done. 

My sister had wanted to join at one point and my step mom said she wanted to get baptized as well. I didn’t care who did or didn’t come along –I knew what I was going to do. I wasn’t looking back or waiting for anything or anyone. 

Then I checked the program that week in early November and saw there was officially going to be a baptism class. I took it. There were only 3 Sundays you could sign up for to get baptized. I signed up. I felt at ease and looked forward to it. It felt right. A long time coming. 

Then I watched the Mayan Crop Circle documentary and thought, Crap. Life isn’t ending. The world will go on. Crapsicles. Oh well. I’m still getting baptized either way. I don’t care. I’ve committed and either way going forward I’m walking God’s path. 

When the day of came I was nervous. Every Sunday besides that one had been full of sunshine and warm colors. This day was gray and the sky looked like an epic storm of clouds. It was also very foggy and more foreboding than usual. I looked up at the sky and thought, Alright there better be a good reason for this. Like a rainbow or something you’re going to show me. What are you doing God?

Then we took off for the church at 10:30am. I was wondering if my dad would come –he dressed up and drove my step mom and me. I found out on the way that a few family friends would actually be there as well. I was excited. Then I went back to being eager/nervous when I was putting on my polo shirt in the changing room. Should I wear glasses? Why did I wear light blue jeans, I was supposed to wear dark blue jeans. What should I say when I’m asked why I’m getting baptized? Will the water be cold? 

I was so happy waiting in line to get in the dunk tank. I was so happy. I kept smiling and feeling excited and blissful. The dunking itself didn’t feel very magical –kind of awkward. But afterward I felt like I’d just gotten out of a shower after hiking in the woods and the dirt for 3 hours. I felt refreshed and renewed. And afterwards when I watched the service I felt like I really belonged.
It’s a special thing when you find your place. I feel good. But I’m also starting to experience the inconvenience of trying to live a “good” life. I really wanted to make fun of this woman today. It was an news post. “Woman Let Ex-Husband See Strange Thing”. The woman has big poofy red hair, drawn-on eye brows, and wayyyyy too much make up on. I wanted to post a link to the article on Twitter with the tagline “Woman Let Ex-Husband See Strange Thing –was it her reflection?” It would have been hilarious. 

But then my good old conscious kicked in and said, That’s not nice and it won’t help anyone out. Who knows what she may be going through. Don’t take the cheap shots. You’ll be better for it in the long run.

I have to think more about what I do. It counts more than ever since I aligned myself with God’s ideals. It’s something you have to build yourself up to. I’m also having issues deciding which necklace to wear. I’ve got pre-baptism necklace which is a shape that has a hint of the cross in it but is clearly geared to a more spiritual person –which I think represents my “old self”. Then there’s new cross #1 which is more “modern” and abstract. Then there’s cross #2 which is simple but, sober, but beautiful. I’m wearing all 3. I can’t decide. Maybe I’ll switch off between them each day. I don’t know. I’m kind of attached to each of them. Craps. 

It’s also been interesting to see people’s reaction before and after the baptism.

My sister: “So your blog says you’re getting baptized, what’s up with that?”
Me: “I’m getting baptized in Thanksgiving”.
My sister: “Oh that sounds cool. I think I should too. How do you get registered or whatever?”

My dad: “So I told Kari about you getting baptized and don’t tell her I told you but she now wants to get baptized along with you.”
Me: “Ok”.

Kari: “So I heard you were getting baptized at the church.”
Me: “Yup”.
Kari: “What made you decide to get baptized.”
Me: “It just feels right and I’m ready for it.”
Kari: “That’s awesome! I don’t want to step-in on your baptism but if you don’t mind do you think I can go to the baptism class with you and get baptized as well?”
Me: “Yah sure.”
Kari: “Cool. I was baptized when I was 8. The Mormons won’t let you baptize babies because they can’t consent so they wait until you’re 8 and you’ve been convinced it’s a good idea for you to officially consent to it. I always felt pressured to get baptized and never felt comfortable in that religion but I went along with it and just told myself I was getting baptized for God and no one else. I think I’m ready to get baptized again, only this time it will really be my full decision and in a religion I genuinely believe in.”

My mom: “So what’s happening on Sunday that you can’t stay the whole weekend?”
Me: “I’m going to get baptized on Sunday.”
My mom (smiling excitedly): “What?! When did you decide to get baptized?”
Me: “A couple weeks ago. I took a class and now I’m going to get baptized.”
My mom: “That’s great! I want pictures.”

My coworker: “You got baptized and you didn’t mention it?! Awww I wish I’d known earlier…”

It’s still weird for me to see people surprised and happy about it. I honestly assumed no one would care.

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