Figuring Out My Faith

April 27, 2015 2 comments

This post will probably be a stream-of-conscious rambling and full of typos because I’m typing this on my phone. Bear with me. I hope this is short because I haven’t adjusted to the size of the iPhone 6 so my fingers keep slipping. (Not plus size; just regular size.)

Anyway, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been attending a local Roman Catholic Church. In a lot of ways, it feels like a homecoming and in other ways it’s changed. I still remember the sign of the cross, many of the congregational responses (although some have changed and one deleted), and when to sit, stand, and kneel (for the most part). I enjoy the 20-minute homily (mainly for the brevity), the availability of hymnals, and the fact that I can (again, for the most part) enter and exit the church unnoticed. 

But there’s so much I disagree with now that I’ve been away from Roman Catholicism. After having been Protestant for as many years as I was Catholic, the following are my gripes:

  • Transubstantiation. This is a big one for me. I don’t believe that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus. I believe they are symbols that represent his body and blood. 
  • The Catholic Church being considered the “true” church. I get the sense (from this Sunday’s homily) that anyone outside of the Catholic Church is “outside the fold.” I don’t know if that means lack of salvation but I bristle when I think that there’s only one “true church,” ie, denomination. 
  • Mary. I’ve been hearing from Catholics lately that Mary is not worshipped but merely revered as the mother of God. Unless the position on Mary has changed within the past 16 years (and I don’t think so), I’m pretty sure Mary is worshipped to be almost if not practically on par with Jesus’ holiness. My entire schooling was in Catholic institutions and I firmly believe that Mary is held to a higher standard than a saint like, oh, John, Paul, Ringo, or George. (Whoops. Well, I got 2 out of 4.)
  • Kneeling before statues. I’m no longer comfortable with this. I’ve read through Genesis and Exodus a few times enough to know that God doesn’t seem to be a fan of “idols” or bowing down before man-made images. 

I guess those are a few of the things that hold me back from Catholicism. (Although I must admit, it really pissed me off on Sunday to see how many people accepted the host and then bypassed the cup [er, chalice as they call it now]. Partake in the Eucharist in its entirety or don’t partake at all. Yes, I’ll admit: It’s gross to drink from the same cup as other people [backwash and all that] but if it’s holy, then it’s purified, right?)

Like I said before, I’ve been Protestant about as long as I was Catholic. (I was essentially a Protestant for 2 years while finishing up high school.) I gravitate toward Protestant beliefs. Much of it makes sense to me. I think Martin Luther (of the Reformation) was a badass. I’ve enjoyed the emphasis on worshipping Jesus alone. It was refreshing to hear a different perspective on salvation: grace by faith alone. (Catholics believe in grace plus good works—something I now battle with based on my interpretation of passages from the Book of James.) I’ve learned so much more about the Bible, especially the Old Testament, in Protestant churches. 

But I’ve become disenchanted with many Protestant churches. In an effort to try to shift away from Catholic traditions, some have abandoned liturgies from their services. Sure, the service tends to be somewhat structured, but it lacks that liturgical feel that the Catholic Church provides.

Call me old fashioned, but I am dismayed at the growing trend of using PowerPoints (or nothing at all) for worship music. I’ve never understood how anyone is supposed to know or be able to sing any of these new worship songs without sheet music. Unless you listen to Christian music religiously, which I suppose is the assumption, there’s no way to know the music being sung in church. In the Catholic Church, a cantor sings the chorus for the entire church then encourages everyone to sing the chorus with him or her, thus introducing the melody. The cantor usually sings the verses alone when the song is not in the hymnal. 

Then there’s my biggest beef with Protestants: the hour-long sermons. Perhaps in the days of Jonathan Edwards when he preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” people were much more attentive and receptive to a lengthy sermon. These days, we in America have short attention spans. Long sermons bore us to tears even if you are an entertaining, charismatic speaker. There’s only so long you can hold your audience’s attention before it drops off. (Speaking of that, kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. And yes, I’m still typing on my phone. Ow.)

Protestant (excluding non-denominational churches) tend to be on the smaller side (unlike 200+ people in a Catholic Church) providing the opportunity for it to become a place where “everybody knows your name.” I’m at a point in my life where I want to be invisible. I want to go to church, worship God, and then leave with minimal to no interruption. I go to the Catholic Church in the same community where I worked at a local library so running into my former coworkers occasionally is to be expected. But for the most part, the church is so big, I can dodge them if needed. 

Regarding childcare, Protestants win over Catholics in my estimation. Protestants usually have a nursery or some form or childcare or Sunday School for young children. Catholics tend to deal with their screaming babies during Mass. Some Catholic Churches have partitioned a room in the back of the church with speakers and a glass panel to accommodate people with special needs, such as moms with babies, the elderly, and the physically handicapped. But it’s hard for many Catholic Churches to retrofit this. 

I guess that’s my 2 cents on my faith. I’m stuck in limbo. I probably won’t return to the Catholic Church as a member (technically I’m still a member of a church on Long Island, NY) but I don’t know if I can handle one more 7-11 praise song at a Protestant church. (Sing 7 words 11 times.) I recognize no church is perfect, but at this point, which church’s shortcomings am I able to tolerate?

We’ll see. 

2015 Goals

January 20, 2015 3 comments

2015I’m super late with posting this, but life and the holidays have all gotten away from me. Anyway, I post these goals for me to review and keep tabs on myself. The one goal I achieved in 2014? Keeping my son alive. That’s all that mattered.

  1. Use the elliptical trainer once a week.
  2. Take a 30-minute walk around the corporate center twice a week.
  3. Read the Bible again. (I’ll probably jump around and read some of my favorite books of the Bible this year.)
  4. Take the BELS examination in May (and pass!).
  5. Take a fun and relaxing 10-year anniversary trip with my husband.
  6. Read 5 books in their entirety.
  7. See 1 movie in the theater with my husband this year.
  8. Lose 30 pounds this year.
  9. Be more assertive about my work and what I can and can’t handle.
  10. Spend more time playing with and taking care of my son when I’m not working.
  11. Eat heathier: Incorporate 1 fruit and 1 vegetable into any of my meals per day.
  12. Attend the Postpartum Progress conference in July.
  13. Pay off my my credit card with the highest balance.
  14. Sock away a substantial amount of income toward a down payment on a house.
  15. Limit fast food, such as Chick-Fil-A and Wendy’s, to twice a week. (This does not include fast casual, such as Panera Bread and Chipotle, or sit-down restaurants like Texas Roadhouse and Cracker Barrel.)
Categories: Goals Tags: ,

Guard Your Heart

January 12, 2015 1 comment

I am dealing with pain and hurt.

How do I be vague and specific about what’s going on in my life all at the same time?

I feel like I’ve loved and I’ve lost. Like the rug was taken out from under me. That I had no say. That every decision was made for me.

I feel as though I need to walk forward into life trusting few, if any, people at all.

I’m afraid that the ones I’ve opened myself and my heart up to will shatter me into a million pieces. Never to be fully reassembled.

I feel wronged and confused and bewildered.

I embark on a new journey and set sail with an uncertain course. I don’t know whether to keep my heart to myself or to open it up, leaving me open to brokenness again. I feel like I’ve already opened myself up to certain people and I just can’t take it back.

I wish I could. I wish I could be quiet, keep to myself, “normal” me. Busy as a bee. Quieter than a tree.

I don’t know how to slowly unveil myself. All my quirks, foibles, and eccentricities. I feel like I’m sort of a BAM! package deal or a “Nevermind, I pass.”

After years of pretending to be quiet and not showing my true self, I don’t know how to become bubbly and cheerful. I guess.

I’m afraid. Afraid that all my hard work will come tumbling down in a matter of weeks. Will I crumble? Will I succumb to pressure?

I thought I had a family. I did. But then they were collectively taken away from me.

My heart hurts. My heart bleeds. My heart wants so much more. I live hard. Love hard. Live deeply. Love deeply.

It’s a blessing and a curse to be so alive, to give your heart out to so many.

Because the majority of people will break it without care.

I feel so heartbroken. As though I entered a 3-year romantic relationship only to be broken up without a plausible explanation. Shift the blame on me and when I try to do what it takes to make the relationship work, cut me off like a New York driver in rush-hour traffic.

I wanted to make it work so badly. Even if the break was in my best interest, I wish it would have been relayed to me. But now, I feel adrift. Alone. Cold. Without a home.

There’s another land on the horizon. I just don’t know what challenges and benefits it will bring. Will it bring any benefits at all? I’m gearing myself up for challenges.

I need to guard my heart. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” — Proverbs 4:23

And let me TELL you, I have issues.

Categories: Personal Tags: ,

Thoughts on #Ferguson

November 25, 2014 2 comments

I have a lot to say and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll find these thoughts quite redundant. But I need to put them down somewhere and get them out of my brain and off my chest.

Let me preface this by saying: I don’t hate white people. I think white people and black people need to work together to effect change. That being said…

I live in a white neighborhood. It’s a peaceful neighborhood with very little crime. One day, I sat in my car, idling in the parking lot next to my apartment, listening to the remainder of a favorite song. I had just come from the gym and it was at night. A cop car pulled alongside me with a white officer at the helm. He very politely asked if everything was okay and I replied that it was. He gave me a dubious “okay” and pulled away.

I’m not sure what probable cause he had for pulling up. Because businesses were closed? Because it was a lone car idling in the parking lot? Did he see that I was a woman all alone? Did he see a black person in a car and wondered what the hell I was doing in the neighborhood?

I’ll never know. But the latter option has run through my mind.

That’s not the only instance in which my family has had a run in with white cops. I often tell the story of my dad who was driving home (we lived in a predominantly white neighborhood) and was less than a half-mile from home when he got stopped by a cop. The officer asked what he was doing and my father said he was heading home. The officer asked where that was and my father said it was down the street, a couple of houses away. The officer let my father go and my dad made it home safely, but he was always convinced he got stopped for DWB — driving while black.

I had a conversation with my husband that left me in tears last night. Because I love my son and I well and truly believe that he’s somewhat at a disadvantage because of his skin color. Despite the fact that Trayvon Martin was not killed by a cop, I really fear my son getting into an altercation with a cop simply because he’s walking around with a hoodie at 6 pm during the winter when it’s dark. My son may be half-white but he’ll only be seen as a black man in the eyes of the law.

I’m tired of making excuses for black people and why they deserved what they got. Mike Brown didn’t deserve to get shot at 12 times. I don’t care if police are trained to empty their clip or if they’re supposed to shoot until a person goes down. I think that’s barbarous. That 12-year-old in Cleveland, Ohio, didn’t deserve to die. I don’t care if he chipped the paint off the toy gun to make it look real. He was TWELVE.

Minorities have a history of getting the short end of the stick:

  • “Oh, that black person was being an idiot to the cop so of course he got shot.”
  • “Oh, that woman was all over the man so of course she was asking to get raped.”
  • “Oh, that Latin American immigrant came into the country illegally so of course his American kids should get deported.”

When does it stop? Who polices the police? I wasn’t much on white privilege before Ferguson, but I guess I am now. White people are more likely to be in positions of power. Black people, to succeed, have to (quite frankly) kiss ass in ways that their white peers don’t.

My mom always told me that black people have to dress nicely and act properly in front of white people if they want to get anywhere. My mother was promoted to the head forewoman position at her job from being a CLEANING LADY. She doesn’t attribute it to her great work ethic (which she had) and great English (she’s got a strong French accent). She attributes it to the fact that she dressed properly and always acted politely in front of white people in positions of power.

You see, I play the game, too. Where a white person can walk into an interview with jeans and be a likely candidate, I have to dress up in a business suit, be articulate, and put on my A-game to get the job.

Oh wait, that’s not a fair comparison because anyone who walks in with jeans won’t get a job in a white-collar industry.

You’d be surprised.

I’ve had to work TWICE as hard as my white peers to succeed in academics and in my career.

I really don’t believe white people are the enemy. It may sound like it, but I don’t feel that way. (Drop in reference to white husband that validates my lack of racism) My sole point is that white people hold the upper hand on a lot of things. In ways they don’t even realize. I may not always identify with my black peers, but that doesn’t negative the fact that my skin color is still dark.

So I guess I believe that white privilege exists. And I don’t know how to change it. It’s been an institution in America since the 1700s. Maybe the first step in breaking down white privilege is accepting the fact that, if you are white in America — and I don’t care if you’re a redneck or live in Appalachia — you have advantages over black people.

I guess that’s it.

It’s Getting Better All the Time

November 22, 2014 1 comment

I’m worlds better than I was in August, September, and October. After trying different medications (and getting back on my Vitamin D and fish oil with omega-3s), I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. Bubbly me. Not exactly cheerful but normal. I’m on a max therapeutic dosage for lithium and Lamictal along with reduced dosages of Prozac and Ability. The combination seems to be helping. I just saw my psychiatrist and he didn’t want to tinker with a good thing. I was in such a good mood that I drove myself to and from Philly safely and considered walking into his office as though I were manic. But I decided against that and just let him see my bubbly disposition.

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” — Stuart Smalley

I haven’t really had suicidal thoughts lately. Not like when Robin Williams died.  It’s like I took his death and internalized it to a point where I felt hopeless. Not like I knew the guy, but he was so vibrant and full of life that I couldn’t imagine living a life any better than he did.

I’m looking into a new daycare for my son. I was looking for something a little more local, but I just found out that he shares a crib with another baby at his current daycare. Even though the workers sanitize and put clean sheets down, it still rankles me that my son shares a crib with another baby. He should have his own! It could help explain why my son has been consistently sick with a cold since August.

My postpartum depression, I think, is getting better. I’m still afraid to care for my son when no one’s around. But I hope to use a few days in December to take care of him while everyone’s at work and show myself that I am capable of that. I need tackle this particular anxiety head on.

Journey of My Bipolar Depression

October 30, 2014 4 comments

consolerI suppose I’ll begin chronicling my bipolar depression journey here rather than on my other blog, depression introspection.

Since August, my mood has been up and down with “down” being severely low. I was suicidal. I’ve been suicidal. And when news of Robin Williams’s death hit my ears, it hit my mood as well. I honestly began thinking, How could someone so vibrant and alive kill himself? How could someone so talented and loved by so many people commit suicide? Then I thought, I’m not as talented as he was. Maybe I should kill myself too. I’m certainly not as loved as he is. What’s the point of living? I should join him.

Somehow, I managed to hang on to see my psychiatrist and I told him that the death of Robin Williams had triggered persistent suicidal thoughts. I hadn’t attempted to kill myself, but I was seriously considering it. He suggested that I try taking lithium, which has a track record of reducing suicidal thoughts.

I’ve been reluctant to take lithium because it requires that you get your blood levels monitored every 6 months. But when you’re desperate, you’ll try just about anything. (Probably just short of eating cockroaches. I certainly don’t have the stomach for that.)

Read more…

(Insert witty blog post header here)

October 26, 2014 Leave a comment

“It’s been a long time… we shouldn’t have left you without a dope beat to step to” — Intro by Timbaland to Aaliyah’s song, “Try Again”

I’ve been dealing with severe postpartum depression and bipolar disorder as of late. It’s pretty annoying. I alternate between wanting to live and wanting to die. I’ll spare you the particularly gross details of my condition, but suffice it to say, it’s hard to do much of anything.

I’ve been working as a freelancer from home and it’s difficult to even do that. I have my husband assisting me on a project because I’ve lost 2 days to depression. It’s bloody frustrating.

Categories: Personal
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,124 other followers

%d bloggers like this: