My Road to Hell

So, I joke a lot with my friends that my road to hell is paved with many pathways, just so if one is blocked I will still be sure to get there. But the truth is, I don’t believe that at all. I was sitting in church this past Sunday, holding back tears, and thinking, “I have no place here anymore.” I’ve written about my faith before, but let’s talk a bit more about it. This is where I am and I am in no way trying to impose my ideas on anyone.

When I go to church, I feel empty, spiritually. There are so many amazing people in my church, but I still feel the most alone when I am at church. I’m still trying to figure out where my faith is. Not sure if I am lacking faith or lacking faith in organized religion. I have gone to other churches. Nothing. Emptiness. I fight tears through the entire service.

As I have said before, I ran to my faith when I had anxiety. I ran to my faith when my marriage was shaken to it’s core the first time. But I have also spent a lot of time in churches working on the business aspect, with the hypocrisy. We have all seen it. Westboro Baptist, preaching hatred. I’ve seen that hatred in my own town. I’m still searching in the Bible where Jesus says we should hate people for who they are. I’m still trying to find the passage that says we are the ones to judge and determine who goes to Hell. I am pretty sure certain churches would have a field day with my family. Hypocrisy. I wasn’t raised on hate. I was raised to do things like put hundreds of dollars of cash into a car door, because I knew it wasn’t mine and maybe it dropped out of that car and they had been saving for 10 years for their vacation (my ex could not believe I would do that). I was raised to help those in need, whether I agreed with their beliefs or not. I have learned to be exactly me, and never apologize for it. What I learned from studying the Bible is that it doesn’t matter if you are white, black, gay, straight, Jewish, Muslim, Mexican, Pakistani, someone who saves themselves more marriage, or a slut. We should all love one another for who we are.

It is not our place to judge. Let me be clear on this. I judge. I judge a lot. My judgment is not right and I know that. My first impressions can be harsh. But I take the time to listen and try my best to keep my judgment in check and to be open to change my initial judgment. I am in no way claiming to be better than anyone.

I actually believe my faith is strongest when I am not confined to the church walls. When I don’t have to worry about the politics of church. When I don’t have to worry about who I am supposed to pretend to be so I can hold my place in Heaven. I don’t have to sit in a pew with my arms raised in order to receive God’s love. I find it on a hiking trail or in the eyes of my dog. And I’m not knocking those that find it in a traditional way. Everyone’s path is different.

So, I tell my friends, my road to Hell has been paved already. But I don’t really believe it. I truly believe my road to Heaven is paved quite beautifully, and paved just for me.

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

I always try to go through life with a pretty positive outlook, but sometimes, life can get the best of me. Hey, I can’t be Wonder Woman all the time. But seriously, I just wrote about predicting, preparing and planning for those moments through which we know we are going to struggle. But how do we deal with those slap you in the face moments? What I’ve learned, is that those moments hit me when I am pretty exhausted. As my therapist has told me, I tend to attack life and try to make the most of it, but then I get so tired I crash and burn. So here I am. I’ve spent the last week or so worried about medical test results, working a lot of extra hours, trying to be super excited about dating in a dating world of men who really seem to only want one thing, and trying to figure out when in the heck I’m going to get my Christmas shopping done. Did I mention I haven’t been to the grocery store in 2 weeks. Yep, even a Wonder Woman goes through struggles.

I always say I never want anyone to dull my shine. I try to spread pixie dust wherever I go, however, sometimes I lose all faith and trust, and…well, we know what happens next. No more pixie dust. What next?

How do you hold onto your faith? I grew up going to church on Easter. I didn’t focus too much on my faith in God. I believed, but never questioned, never understood. To be able to see through the eyes of a child again. It wasn’t until after my children were born that I really wanted to explore my faith. Turns out my mom, my sister and I all decided, apart from each other, to start reading through the Bible, at the same time. I started taking Bible studies and going to church. I had a strong faith, stronger than I knew. I suffered from anxiety and learned to turn to God. Faith helped me through some very anxious moments. I felt like I was faithful and strong in that faith. When infidelity rocked my trust to the core, I turned to my pastor and I turned to God. What was wrong with me that I wasn’t good enough for my husband? I had two young children, no job, and no idea how to be on my own. I always said cheating was a deal breaker, but was I strong enough to call it off when faced with it? I wasn’t. I felt trapped, like I had no way out. So, my husband and I went to counseling and worked through everything and worked hard to make our marriage work. I felt like I made it through that dark period in my life with faith. I questioned it, I yelled at God, I was angry. But I was comforted, I was given strength and hope, and I was able to move forward.

After my trust was completely shattered I realized how strong my faith was. I continued with church. I was presented with an amazing job opportunity. Quite frankly, I felt as if the ground work was being laid for me to become a much stronger, more independent woman, should I ever be faced with having to go through life alone.

9 years later, my faith was still strong and it still continued to help me through anxiety. But then it happened. That silly trust thing…again. I had told my husband we would not survive another breach in trust like that. We didn’t. I saw it coming a mile away and I fought it and fought it. My self esteem was already in the shitter (sorry for the language). But let me tell you what infidelity does. It takes that self esteem out of the toilet and sends it all the way to Middle Earth somewhere. The feelings of unimportance, insiginificance, hatred for yourself; they all come to the surface. What was wrong with me? What did I do wrong? And the comparisons, oh the comparisons to the other person. I totally went there for a little while. I cried…I cried until I could barely see because my eyes were so swollen. I would get sick because my nose was so stuffed. My dog, he learned to run when I sobbed. I can remember what my prayers were. I used to pray that God would just take me out of the world and end my suffering. I was tired. I had no fight in me. I felt pathetic. And I felt like I had lost everything.

So, through all this, despite my very glum prayers, I tried to hang on to my faith. My church family was amazing. I continued to go to church, but my in-laws were there. I went for months and sat through services and couldn’t hear a word the pastor was saying, as I spent the entire hour fighting back tears and, yes, sometimes having to walk out in the middle of the service. My friends and my faith were here but I began feeling so abandoned by God. If my faith was so strong, why was he presenting me with challenges that I could not handle? Every week, I thought it would be better. I could be having a great day, but the moment I stepped into the church, I felt empty…even lost. I stopped going. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

It’s been over three years and I have gone back to church. My daughter plays her flute there on occasion and I always love to hear her. When I go back, sometimes it feels like I’m going home. Everyone is so wonderful and so welcoming. But I have yet to feel the comfort of God’s arms wrapped around me. I still talk to God, but I don’t have the confidence that my prayers are heard. I don’t know that my faith in God will ever be restored. At this point, I try to solely rely on my faith in myself. To know that I am strong and kind and that I’m not unimportant or insignificant. I try to go through life seeing the glass half full.

So, this brings us to trust. My trust in people has been completely rocked to the core. When I first started dating I didn’t trust that anything was real. It took a long time for me to find someone with whom I let those walls down. It was amazing! I could be me and I could let myself be vulnerable. Maybe life didn’t have to be so hard. Boy was I wrong. The silliest of arguments and he called it all off. Not only did he call it off, but he attacked my character and said some pretty awful things. So, at this point, I not only lost trust in another human being. I lost trust in my judgment. My red flags were up on our first date, and I let him convince me otherwise. My trust in myself is completely shattered.

But through this, I have some amazing family and friends that have seen me through pretty rough times. They have my back and I do know that. They are my cheering section and during those rough days, I can hear them all clapping their hands and yelling, “I believe, I believe, I believe!” So, I may never fully gain my faith in God, and I may always struggle with trusting myself and my judgment, but my family and friends will ALWAYS make sure I have my pixie dust so that I never, ever lose my sparkle.

“All you need is FAITH, TRUST and a little PIXIE DUST.” – Peter Pan