23 year old girl scientist, happily married to a man in uniform. In my 2nd year of my PhD, new home owner, and owner of 1 dog and 2 cats.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

gotta have faith

Amy woke me up at 9:00 this morning, asking if I wanted her to pick me up for church. Since I was still tangled up in my one sheet (meant to remake my bed with clean sheets last night, but got lazy and wrapped myself in one clean sheet & down comforter), wearing pjs and makeup smeared all over, told her I'd meet her there. Was 25 minutes late for church, so I missed the singing. Singing is my favorite part. It's the one way I really seem to get into the service and really feel like I'm worshipping. I wore my new filmy long sleeved shirt from Forever XXI with new corduroy blazer over it. Cute!

There was a couple sitting in front of us seriously snuggling. The guy was big and muscular, blond, very attractive. The girl was also blond and gorgeous, and teeny tiny. He didn't take his arm from around her and periodically kissed her forehead and cheek. GAG. H is working and we aren't so lovey-dovey now that we've been together so long. Felt jealous, and hated them, then felt guilty, because that's not a very church like attitude now, is it?

Was talking with boss last week about religious beliefs and faith, comparing opinions held by non-religious friends to psycho-religious friends. I definitely fall in the middle. I don't believe in the strict boundaries and white/black definitions many religions teach.

I remember talking to a pastor-woman once, when Fritz & I had just gotten engaged and were having serious, many-hour long debates about our different religious beliefs. (He was raised in a v. fundamental family. My family is very openminded and fun-loving). Anyway, this pastor woman told me there were some people who viewed life with gray areas, some strictly black and white. Obviously, I'm a gray person.

My boss is an incredibly gifted genius. When I say genius, I mean a bona-fide scientist and inventor, with patents and papers and textbook chapters and millions of dollars of funding in his life. He's tenured at the University. I respect him and his opinions more than almost anyone else in my life. I met him when I was 12 years old, sick and in pediatric intensive care. I participated in research studies in his lab, as a patient, and he said, "When you grow up and come to college, come see me if you want a job." So as a college sophomore, I went back to his lab and said, "remember me?" It's been almost 4 years now and I'm the lab manager and run his lab. It's funny how things work.

"There's a major difference between religion and faith," he told me, "and religion is where the problems often begin. The key is to have the faith, then you can decide for yourself what your religious boundaries are."

This is something I've felt strongly about my entire life. I was raised Southern Baptist, and endured Sunday mornings of hellfire and damnation and was terrified of tarnishing my soul and being punished for eternity. At my private, Christian school, I got detentions for talking back to my teachers, wearing my skirts too short, and kissing boys in the hallway. My teachers conferenced with my parents, "concerned" with my excessive "spirit." Luckily my mom was like "screw all of you narrow minded idiots" and plucked me out of there & put me in public school for high school. Or maybe that was because public school is free.

It's been a journey since then, a process of discovering and rediscovering my own beliefs, outside of what I've been told to believe. Since then I have developed my own opinions, my own interpretation of the Bible and scriptures, and strengthened my personal relationship with God. And I've never felt more fulfilled, more emotionally secure and at peace with myself.

I told Amy this morning, "I know it sounds so cheesy and silly, but church and prayer/meditation are like food for my spirit... they are the only things that quench this weird internal hunger I feel." She replied, "nourishment for the soul!" and giggled like she always does.

I've left my house before and forgotten to put on my wedding ring, or forgot my purse, and all day I just feel this void, like something is missing. The lack of sensation of something I've forgotten. That's how I feel on the days or weeks I don't pray, the times I forget about my spiritual health and self.

Like everything else in life, it's a personal journey of self discovery. I've been seriously criticized for my liberal attitude towards my faith & my beliefs, but I strongly believe it's an intensely personal decision that everyone must come to in their own time, in their own way. Who are we to say someone else's beliefs are wrong?


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