In anticipation of the question of whether I believe in God, I came to a realisation. It intrigued and satisfied me, because I was never quite sure what I did believe. When I was a kid my mother studied classics, and I was an avid reader of fairy tales and mythologies from around the world. I liked the idea of a pantheon. Why not a goddess of wisdom and warfare, another of love? I don’t think the fact that my name comes from a fairly obscure goddess had anything to do with it.
Anyway. This epiphany came about because this fellow I’ve never met (he’s in my phone as ‘Javier who was looking for his phone.’ That pretty much explains how we met – he called my number, thinking it was that of his lost phone. We talked a while, and so on) asked how my day was. I explained my busy schedule, how starting tomorrow I’ll be working six days a week, and even Sunday’s not a free day because I have a workshop.
‘You going to the Church? he texted back.
‘No. I’m not religious. It’s a writers group.’
Washing a pile of dishes as I waited for water to boil for tea, I anticipated him asking ‘Do you believe in God?’
I thought about it. My response was going to be ‘I don’t know. Maybe not.’
But then it occurred to me that the real answer is ‘I don’t care.’
I don’t care if God exists in some form, because His (following the presumption laid out in the Bible) presence in my life would not, and should not, make any difference to how i live my life.
I respect the lives of others more than many religious and annoyingly pious types. After all, I refuse to participate in the torture and abuse of the animals we are meant to care for, all for my own sensual satisfaction. They deserve respect and decent lives. True, my dog might be seen in the occasional Facebook photo wearing a tutu or tea cosy, but I love her and take responsibility for her health and well-being, I don’t want her to be unhappy. I wouldn’t eat her. I hate the thought of animals confined in crowded cages, forced to breed and their babies taken away, their lives ended abruptly and painfully, just so I can have a glass of milk, or eat a juicy steak.
I should not need Him overseeing my actions to make me behave correctly. I try to be nice to people because I feel horrible if I don’t help when I can and I believe just because a man lives on the street he deserves enough respect from me that I will look at him and listen when he speaks to me and respond with courtesy. He’d have to be rude for me to do otherwise.
I believe in being honest and true to myself, and sometimes that may look like selfishness to others. That means I need to keep following my dream to write novels, even if at some point I have to say ‘I can’t help you out, X, because I only have a few hours a day to relax and work on my novel, and that is what I need to do.’ If my friends and family care about me, they will try to understand and accept it, even if they aren’t seeing any payback. It is something that matters to me. But I have a difficult time saying that, so today I spent hours on the phone with various people who needed my time.
There are those who would say that it is what God wants me to do, too. After all, if I have a talent (and I once did, though I have allowed it to get creaky and stiff with not enough working out), it was given by God, right? God doesn’t approve of you wasting His gifts.
It’s difficult for me to say no to my friends, and sometimes I let the fatigue bury me and squander what time and energy I have watching TV. That’s a whole other story of fear, I think. Fear of trying and failing. Laziness.
So God or not, I should chase after that dream and keep going. If He’s out there, he would approve my decision to make some painful sacrifices in my personal life so I can keep up the pursuit. Maybe that’s how I should explain it to the people I know who are religious, when I don’t want to spend hours texting, or on long ambling phone calls, when I finally decide I can’t spend my free morning helping them on their projects. For the rest, maybe I should just tell them the Deep South has finally gotten her claws into me, and I don’t think God would want me to waste my time.
Which reminds me, I need to go and work on this new idea I got for my story.