Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tell You What It Means To Me

Respect. This must be the central focus in discussions of faith. Respect for differences. Respect for history. Respect for emotions.

A few days ago I received a correspondence about faith that put me in a tailspin. I don't want to discuss it too much here because of some privacy issues, but I was all a-mess over this. I was angry, then I was sad, then I felt bad for the other person, then I was just confused. Then I talked to my friend Lucy^. She pointed out that basically, I was feeling disrespected.

As a Catholic. As a new-age-crystal-wearing-hippy-type. As a descendant of Native Americans. As a woman. As an adult. As a politically liberal American. Etc. And yes, I realize that some of those labels don't seem to belong on the same name tag. So be it.

I realized, that this is the line I was trying to articulate in my earlier post, An Open Letter To God, where I discussed my negative feelings toward some expressions of faith. These are the expressions of faith that upset me, as a currently-ill person preparing for transplant:

It upsets me if people talk to me about Christianity as though I'm not a Christian. My first name is Mary. What are the chances that I haven't heard about Jesus? I mean, seriously.

It upsets me if people accuse me of not praying enough over my health. I am not sick because of a lack of prayer. I will not get "better" because of increased attention to prayer. If I succumb to illness, it will not be because I did not pray. It will be because I have Cystic Fibrosis. I always want to say, "Oh! Prayer! I have been meaning to look into that!"

It upsets me if people presume to speak to God for me. People can speak to their God about me, sure - have at it. The only person who can speak to God for me, is me. And perhaps a few other people. Is it you?

It upsets me if people assume that an open discussion of faith requires one person to adopt the other person's beliefs by the end of the conversation. I believe much can be learned by just putting ideas on the table, and looking at them. Look at your belief- over there. Look at mine- over here. Look at that other belief over there - what does it all mean? I believe in asking questions of one another, not shouting answers. Hey look, it's a gummy bear. What does a gummy bear MEAN?

It upsets me if people assume that a question of faith indicates a lack of faith. Sometimes, it's just a question. I have a garbage disposal that I use daily. I believe that it works. Sometimes I wonder, where does the food go? But I still believe that the garbage disposal works. This was the least-offensive metaphor I could come up with, believe it or not.

It upsets me when, unprompted, every single person takes the news of transplant as an invitation into a gigantic spiritual conversation. I'm totally fine with it with family and friends, but I feel like 90% of the people I interact with go right for the deep talk, regardless of our prior relationship. I am tempted to be like, "POP QUIZ: What's my last name? (Gal) Am I married or single? (Single) Straight or gay? (Straight) What do I teach?" (Drama) For example, at times when this has occurred.


That's all for tonight. I'm tired. Doc tomorrow. Low oxygen today. Must sleep well.

PS. Ronnie and I are still in a blogmance.
PPS. Thanks so much to everyone who donated to Unleash Your Story.
PPPS. Gummy bears.



  1. Gummy Bears rock. I hope that they are in heaven. CysticLady

  2. Oh how I love me some gummy bears!! The clear are my fav!!

  3. Lady, I love love love the way you write...and can I just say that I too have checked out Ronnie's blog...guess you can have first dibs but man...I gotta look into the blogmance. I do crack myself up a bit. Oh, and besides gummy bears, can there be my dad's milkshakes and margaritas please??? :) Love and more love and laughter...

  4. Again - beautifully expressed.

    I think issues of faith get everyone all worked up because they are, by nature, very personal, and it's nearly impossible for some people to separate emotion from faith. Perhaps because it's so difficult to articulate exactly what faith is without mentioning feeling?

    Congrats for dealing with everyone's issues so well. ;)

  5. "As a Catholic. As a new-age-crystal-wearing-hippy-type. As a descendant of Native Americans. As a woman. As an adult. As a politically liberal American. Etc. And yes, I realize that some of those labels don't seem to belong on the same name tag. So be it."


    Hugs from your Christian, questioning, southern, feminist, preppy, liberal, aerosol-hairspray-using-with-lung-disease bloggyfriend :o) Seriously, you've got to check out Velvet Elvis (Rob Bell) - I'm more convinced than ever by this post that you'll love it.


  6. I am looking forward to meeting Cystic Dad over the holidays. He has an understanding and a clarity about faith that I have never heard articulated so beautifully before. His wisdom, regardless of your creed, warrants respect and admiration. Thank you for not judging me on my lack of religious faith. My prayers may be worthless; but my hugs and smiles, laughs and well wishes for you are endless.

  7. Right on, Sister. People useta come to my door to convert me and I would say ""We're Jewish," and somehow this disarmed them so much that they left. Perhaps they thought we were hopeless? but to me it was like I yam who I yam - a vaguely observant Jewish sorta groovy non-believing confused person - and I took offense at a stranger treading on my history. P.S. I think maybe you are brilliant.

  8. For your thoughts on your misguided friends.

    I'll remind you of a story that perhaps I told you when you were younger about my friend Martin who I used to talk Catholic talk to over Boy Scout campout campfires and pots and pots of late night coffee. We were leaders of the same troop that was sponsord by our parish.

    Martin is a mensa dude with intel off the charts. Along with this affliction (mensa)often comes the clumbsy inability to build interpersonal relationships and manurisms that are wierd, and he is afflicted with this. But somehow I could harness his brainpower and tap into it. He has a past that is quite unique and it includes several years of seminary.

    The scouts would be fast asleep and often I would tell of my past experiences and disappointments with leaders of my church who were supposed to represent the church and how they let me down. He would scratch his chin and ask me if these people, although priests or nuns, were also people, you know actual humans. I of course would scream "of course you idiot." Then he would say,,, do you think they were representative of what Jesus would do. I would but they protrayed themselves as such..... And he would ask .... is it possible that they do not understand the church or Jesus as deeply as you do, thus they dissapoint you.

    I would sit back and stare at him and think, and think, and think, and drink more coffee and maybe poke the fire and think some more.


  9. on a completely no insight note... the "sponsor" you had on the top of this post was for Sutter Health... of which I am in one of their hospitals lol

  10. Have you tried Sluggles Gummies by Wonka. I am eating them for the first time and they are awesome!!!

    As for people bringing up faith and transplant. The only person's faith that matter is the person who is having the transplant so don't worry what others think.


Thanks for commenting! Your comment will be posted ! -CG