What is right – God or not?

To say I have a conflict with God is an understatement. I truly have a love-hate relationship with Him. I often mention that I was raised Catholic and currently reject it based upon my sexuality, but I know I really can’t ignore my love and need for God either. Currently, I feel like an internal battle for my soul is happening. On the one hand, I want to feel like my sexuality is completely natural and completely acceptable in the eyes of God – in fact, encouraged by God to love someone (if anyone). But on the other hand, I feel like traditionalism tells me that I am not aligning my life, thoughts, soul or being with God’s will and purpose for me within my life – in other words, I need to repent my ways and live accordingly.

I can’t begin to even out down all of my struggles and arguments against faith, let alone begin to express all of the ways that I believe God has helped me within life. I have a sense of obligation that is coupled with a sense of rebellion. Granted, I do realize this is the essence of the so-called human condition. I even realize that it is within the struggle for faith is when the victory is the essence of the divine. But I also feel the conflict is ripping me apart at different points in my life. There are times when I feel like I’m living faithfully only to have my faith mocked and ridiculed, and I know there are times when I am living in a way that makes me feel free and I feel guilty and shameful. And to say that this isn’t a critical moment for me, would be a fallacy. You see, I place a lot of my relationship with God on the crux of my sobriety too.

It’s during these conflicts, that I find I don’t want to face any of it and I go back to drinking.

But I know…deep down, I know…that’s not what I want.

Deep down, I know that there is a hole in my soul that I have not been able to fill.

I haven’t filled it with booze.

I haven’t filled it with sex – with men nor women.

I haven’t filled it with food.

I haven’t filled it with hobbies that became compulsions.

I haven’t filled it with egotistical pursuits.

I haven’t filled it with a hateful and argumentative need to be right.

I haven’t filled it with seeking praise from others.

I haven’t filled it by isolating myself from others.

I know many of my Christian friends would say it can can only be filled by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I know many of my friends in sobriety/recovery would say I can only fill it with a Higher Power or a God of my understanding. I don’t know that I’ve had too many people for different religions or faiths ever express to me what might be the path to feeling okay with myself. It’s not that I’m unwilling to explore different paths to so-called spiritual enlightenment, it’s just that I am unsure if I can ever feel spiritually enlightened…

And my thoughts are here for two incredibly important reasons.

One is that I am currently doing Step 4 within the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and God/religion is a specific item on my list of resentments – thought not quite the same as it might be for others. I have never had the over-bearing or abusive treatment that some people have experienced when it comes to faith and religion. In fact, my own dad, whom I respect immensely, has never condemned my questioning to critiques of faith. He has always been open to questions and answered as compassionately as possible. I never felt forced to do anything I didn’t want to do when it came to faith. I’ve also had the opportunity to be involved with churches or religious groups that accepted my voluntary involvement. So, I do not have that negative connotation. No, my resentment is purely academic – I know what I’ve read, and listened to in speeches, homilies, commentary, conversations, etc. and I have experienced that some of these things don’t match what I feel. I’ve also understood theological reasonings that I have flat rejected because they do not line up with what I want – i.e. my will is different. I want what I want and I can’t help but believe that the things I want are not inherently against God – regardless of anything I can research on an intellectual level.

The other thing I am experiencing right now is the loss of my grandfather – He passed away on Saturday. He would have been 90 this April. He is one of the most devout Catholics I know. He was the kind of man that was at mass daily for years, and had attended mass the previous Sunday before passing away. I remember as a kid, going with him and my grandmother to take food to the nuns that lived nearby their house. I was baptized in his church – along with most of my grandparent’s family. My little brother had his funeral at my grandparents’ church. He donated to the poor, regularly. He always helped his family. He prayed his Rosary daily. He received communion regularly – a minimum of once per week. He was a loving man – completely devoted to God, if not my grandmother and family. And he was a quiet man. A veteran of the Korean War – he even helped dig the trench that separated North Korea from South Korea.

And did I mention he was Catholic?

Hearing of his passing on Saturday filled me with a remorse. A remorse I feel could only be addressed by honoring him. And I felt a need, a deep need to reconnect with the Catholicism of my youth. I felt a need to pray my Rosary. I felt a need to go to confession. I felt a need to reject every sin I ever committed – especially those sins seeped in physical pleasure. I felt sadness for ever living in a way that was not righteous. I suddenly felt a need to step up and be the man I have never been. Reject everything about myself – the parts of me that were selfish, self-seeking, dishonest and afraid. I felt a need to make sure I make my marriage work – yes, in spite of everything.

And then I felt inept…

A failure…

How could I possibly live up to anything like that? I will fall short of what my grandfather was. I will fall short of the goodness and faithfulness of that man. I will fall short of the virtues of my catholicity. I will fall short of my temptations and desires. I will fall short of my inability to forgive. I will not be able to live up to a smidgen of the goodness of my grandfather. The quiet giant he was. The hands of a worker. A farmer’s tenacity. The strength of faith. I will forever fall short.

This is the true essence of my resentments: myself.

4 thoughts on “What is right – God or not?

  1. Wow. I’ve known guys – and bi guys – to have that crisis of faith when sexuality clashes with religious beliefs. A lot of guys work toward shrugging it off when they realize that their faith – their belief – is still very much intact but that doesn’t mean they can’t and don’t have to deal with the human condition. And, yes, many of them say that if God didn’t mean for them to be this way, they wouldn’t be this way. They make their peace. They’re assured that God will forgive them for their sins and their sins of the flesh. Maybe they keep going to church but even I found that sitting on those hard-assed pews and listening to the pastor going on and on about the wages of sin really exposed some flaws in what we believe that do very much clash with the reality of things.

    The hypocrisy galls me. Whatever. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work for me and so many others. One life. One chance to do whatever you’re gonna do. If there is a heaven or hell, worry about that when it’s time to worry about it. But one thing is also pretty certain: Trying to live up to how someone else lived their life, while honorable, might not do much for you and can move you further away from the person you really are. You’re supposed to live your life for yourself even with a role model or two.

    The biggest thing is not so much asking God for forgiveness as it is being able to forgive yourself. Despite what religions teach, you’re human. Fallible. We all are. You get to understand that you cannot change what has already happened and now the thing you must do is… deal with it. Deal with yourself. It’s not so much asking God to give you guidance as it is you being able to figure out what you have to do to be okay with yourself and no matter what’s going on with you because if you don’t do it, who’s supposed to? If you’re unhappy with yourself, you have a mission and purpose to be happy with yourself and not solely rely on anyone else to make you as happy with yourself as you obviously need to be.

    And then do this most important thing without making excuses for not doing it. Growing up and struggling with being a husband and father, I’d often ask myself what my mother would do… other than laugh at me when I’d look to her for guidance. She’d tell me – remind me – that what she would do in a given situation wasn’t the same as what I might have to do and it was on me to figure it out and, yes, God had my back just in case. I worked through things and didn’t allow myself to fall into the boozy hell my father and other relatives had fallen into.

    I was better than that. I had to be better. I would be better. My faith, such as it was and is, remained intact but could never reach the levels my mother’s faith had reached and it made sense… because I’m not her. Her trials and tribulations weren’t mine. My sexual life was… spectacular. Bluntly, getting some dick just worked for me even though I knew I was sinning big time. But I also knew that I wasn’t the only one and if the other “sinners” were okay with themselves, I had to be okay with myself, too, because to not be okay wasn’t an option.

    Had that crisis of faith and realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t believe because I did… but belief and reality don’t always play nice with each other and while I could question my beliefs, reality still had to be dealt with. I’m no saint and, honestly, wouldn’t want to be. I made my peace with God about my sexuality and with that firmly in place, that took care of that crisis that so many of us go through. And, yeah, perhaps being a bit of a blasphemer, I knew that religion wasn’t telling us the whole truth of things and I learned a lot of those truths like, yeah, getting some dick was good. I’m human and that means I’m a sexual critter as well. Okay. Better to “feel bad” about doing it than to feel bad over not doing it and I will never apologize to anyone about my sexuality and I firmly believe that God has my back even in this.

    My mom loved to say, “Just put it in God’s hands. Let Him take care of the things you can’t take care of so you can do the things you can take care of… and you’d better take care of them because they’re not going to take care of themselves. Don’t do it because I expect this of you – do it because you have to and because no one is going to do them for you.”

    That’s what I did. I still do it. God and I are okay with each other. I live with zero regrets over how I became bisexual. Life is full of some seriously real shit. And unless you can get a grip on reality, well, things might not go well for you. Beliefs are fine. Reality is a whole different critter and the one we have to deal with each and every day. We learn to. We adjust. Adapt. Figure shit out so that we can keep on keeping on and to the best of our ability to do so… because the alternatives aren’t even attractive and as you have, unfortunately, found out.

    Your grandfather must have been one hell of a man. Kinda reminds me of my mother’s father and his faith made my mom look like she had no faith. He once told me that while it’s good for the soul to have faith and belief, boy, you’d better be ready to deal with what life is going to throw at you because no amount of faith was going to save my ass. Really weird to hear such a deeply devout man curse… but when he spoke, you damned well listened.

    He said, “No matter what you do, make sure that you and God are on the same page. Believe in Him but don’t expect Him to pull your fat out of the fire when you get too close! Be the best man you can be and it’s okay – He has already forgiven you. You’ve sinned before and you will sin again; He knows this. It’s okay for you to live and you’re gonna have to face life’s realities just the same.”

    The man had a damned good point. My mom had equally damned good points about what religion was meant to do. It’s supposed to guide us but also knowing that we must find our own paths in life and if we stray – and we will – as long as we’ve accepted Christ as our personal savior, no matter what we do, we’ll be okay… but we still have things we have to do and not doing them is unacceptable. And being miffed with God is a complete waste of time; He doesn’t fail us: We fail ourselves and I’ve been told and believe that God really does help those who help themselves.

    Or the reality that says if you don’t do a damned thing to help yourself, no one is going to help you until you start helping yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

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