Is God a Monster?

People certainly think I’m crazy.  

No, not everyone.  I actually do have my friends and admirers.  But  there is no denying I am strange, and that’s evidenced in many ways, such as how I take my daughter’s words seriously.

No, not all of them.  I do see that some of it is babble or mere repetition of what she’s heard elsewhere.  But some of it is her own thought. 

And some of it “sounds” different.  It “sounds” “true.”

Which has nothing to do with the words themselves.

So at the risk of appearing even stranger than I already do, I want to tell you about something.

Adahlia tells me that God is a monster.

The first time she said this, I was shocked.  I’m not sure if I replied at all. 

Now, I do not press my experiences of God on her, for better or worse, and I do not follow a clear religious routine or faith doctrine.  What I do follow is deeply personal and is a result of my own revelations.  But because I do want her to feel a presence in this world, to know that many of us have felt or met something that exists, and that this “thing” does seem to care for us, I have told her a bit about God, and various faiths, and approaches to truth.

For example, one night, I told her that I love her, and that God loves her, and that God made everything, including her, and lives inside her, and within all life.

I have certainly never said that God is a monster.

But this is what she tells me.

Typically it is said very matter-of-fact.  At times, I’ll admit, I’ve said, “please don’t say that; that’s not true,” because it literally pains my poor heart to hear it.

But it got me thinking: Is God monstrous?

My daughter and I were stranded this past weekend in a city where we knew no one.  The SW airlines disaster.   It was, in a word, horrible.  An absolute debacle.  So miserable there was actually a bit of humor in it.  The worst Charlie-Foxtrot I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in.  (And I’ve been in the military.  I’m no stranger to the CF.)

I could go on and on about how insane it was, but the bottom line is that I finally gave up and got us to a hotel room a little after 2 am.  She was strangely wired, but eventually fell asleep, and we did not sleep well or long.  

The next morning, lying amongst pillows and sheets, I asked her about her dreams. I like to hear her dreams; they are interesting to me, like all of her.

She replied: “God is a monster.  I dreamed about God.”

Since this was perhaps the fifth time she’s told me that God is a monster, but the first time she’s told me she’s dreamt of God, I decided to try to figure out what she meant.  See if her dream could provide context clues.

“What do you mean, God is a monster? Tell me about your dream.”

She repeated exactly the same information.  

I pressed for more.  “Do you mean He is big and powerful, like a monster?  Or do you mean He is mean?”

“God is mean.  He doesn’t love me,” she confirmed.  

“Oh no, that just cannot be true,” I replied.

“He doesn’t want me to live on this planet anymore,” she said.  

“He doesn’t?” 

“No.”

“Do you?” I asked, because recently, she has been saying she ‘doesn’t want to live on this planet’ a lot, whenever she gets very upset.  Her teachers have even noticed it, and expressed concern.  

She considered my question.

“God doesn’t want me to live on this planet, but I want to live on this planet!” 

She then began pinching my cheeks and squiggling around and calling me ‘squishy-mama’, and I knew our conversation was over.

Adahlia is a complex little being. Just yesterday I lifted her out of a courtesy shuttle and she blinked her eyes in the sunshine, saying, “This is amazing!  This is an amazing planet!”

And if someone lets her talk to him or her for even a minute, she’ll go off on how people are polluting the planet, and we must stop hurting our planet, and she is very mad at the people polluting the planet.

It’s kind of mind-blowing. 

And I’m not entirely sure what to think of her assertations about God being a monster.  

God certainly IS powerful. I could see how such power is perceivable as monstrous. And certainly, the Old Testament God is capable of some pretty vengeful wrath.

And I’m not saying that God doesn’t necessarily have a monstrous vengeful aspect to Him.  I mean it’s God, God’s like the definition of ‘anything is possible.’

But that wasn’t the God I met. God was pretty patient with me.  (And I know how to try patience.)

God chose to love me instead of crushing me like a bug.

So… What to think?

Honestly, I don’t know.  

I do think it’s interesting, especially given my recent interactions with Jehovah Witnesses, who interpret the Bible as teaching that blood transfusions are forbidden, and believe that to transfuse a child with another’s blood robs God of what He is trying to claim.  I wrote a Facebook post about it as an inquiry into the question of human connection, of compassion, of love.

Less than 24 hours later, my daughter, who has been told nothing and heard nothing of my conversations regarding blood transfusions and God, tells me that God doesn’t want her to live on this planet anymore.

Huh.

Any way you slice it, that’s peculiar.

Well, I suppose I might be making my God angry now.  Maybe it IS wrong to accept blood transfusion, and to give it to one’s child.  Blood is, after all, a powerful substance.  It is said to carry the spirit or soul in nearly every spiritual tradition.  Despite our scientific advancements and knowledge of its biochemistry, it cannot be replicated or “faked” or substituted for.  It is the yin container for our yang spirit in Chinese Medicine.

But really? God would prefer us to let our children die?  We are not supposed to preserve and fight for their lives?

I find that so hard to believe. 

Just as hard to believe as God being a monster.

What about the sanctity of life?

This post has no point.  Like most of my wanderings, it is mostly an invitation to question. 

But I don’t want my child’s God to be a monster.  I want Him to love her.  

And I don’t want Him to take her.

So if He wants to, I’m really super sorry, and I might pay the price for my rebellion, but I am going to go against Him.  He’s going to have to take her in a way that I cannot prevent or delay.

He’s God.

If He really wants her, He can do it. It’s not like I can stop Him.

And if she’s really not supposed to be here, well, I gotta admit, in a way, I’m a bit jealous.  What has He got in store for her?  Where is she supposed to be?  What is this “date” that’s so important, it can’t wait another 80 years?

Again, I’m sorry, but You gave her to me.  Willful, rebellious, irreverent, goofy, fierce, me.  So You had to know this might happen.  

She’s Yours; always has been.  Not mine; never has been.  I’m her protector, not her owner.  And I’m one of few moms who really believe that, who has always believed that, who’s always known it to be true in her heart, that even though this child is my soul friend and entrusted to me, that she is not mine.  She belongs to herself.  And, ultimately, to You.

You can take her if you really want, because I know I cannot stop You.  

But if You do this sort of tug-of-war for her, I’ll go to my grave pulling on the rope.

Because You gave her to my care.

And I love her. 

And if you cure her miraculously, I’ll be really, really, really happy. 

(Huh? How’s that for an ending to this story?? Wouldn’t that be fun?)

You do love me, You told me so yourself, so that does kind of give credence to the idea that You’re a bit monstrous.  I should think You’d let my life be a little better.  Cut me some slack.  Give me a break.  Hold the rain.  Part the clouds.  Shine a little sunshine.

Things haven’t exactly gone well for me.

I’ve lost so much.

(Pretty much since meeting You, I’d like to point out.)

But I still trust You.

Which only goes to show how smart You are, because if You hadn’t let me see what I’ve seen, heard what I’ve heard, there’s no way I’d be trusting You now. 

Belief stopped working for me long ago. I needed to know for myself.

You’re so smart. Monster or not, it kind of makes me love You more.

CausationĀ 

Everyone, all of us, wants to know the cause.

Because, it stands to reason, that if we know the cause, we will know the cure.

And the prevention.

Homelessness is caused by laziness.  Bad luck.  Stupidity.  Drunkenness.  Karma.

Illness is caused by genetics.  Nutrition.  Stress.  Offending God (or the gods).  The health-stricken man or woman is getting his or her “just desserts” for being a workaholic or an asshole or a bitch… or for simply being weak.  (And thus, such people should be avoided.  Or at the very least, we should only talk to them once things have turned around for them.)

Good things happen because we are good people.  Blessed.  Hardworking.  Virtuous. Smart. God-loving.  God-fearing.  Strong.  Favored.  Chosen.  Lucky.

And maybe that’s believable, maybe, as long as you are born into a country where upwards mobility is possible and you find affluence and health and you manage to stay that way.  (And you wear blinders.)

But, sooner or later, the bubble has to pop.

You see, my friends, I know what I’m talking about.  I’m no stranger to bad luck.  (I’ve been abused.)  And really good luck, too.  (I was “the pretty one” born into an affluent, respected family.)

And then, more really, really, bad luck.

I’ve analyzed it and meditated on it, and thought about it six ways to Sunday.

And here’s what I think:

I think you can take all our self-serving beliefs (and self-limiting beliefs) about what causes good things to happen to certain people and why some people have terrible things happen to them…

…and shove them.

Because here’s the thing:  When you attribute good life events to hard work or to respecting God, when you imply that some people are blessed in some way, or are “chosen” or “favored,” then the very strong implication is that those who experience misfortune have “earned” it, too, or somehow lost God’s favor.

Now, I’m not saying things aren’t connected.  They are indeed.  Things are connected in complex, miraculous, beautiful ways that we can’t fathom.

And that’s the key:

That we can’t fathom.

When we start to try to pinpoint them, to fathom them, to draw conclusions and causation, we mess up.  We confuse ourselves.

We put ourselves on a false and unsteady pedestal.  If we fall, we’ll either have to hypocritically excuse ourselves, or we’ll suddenly have to consider that perhaps we aren’t, after all, God’s favorites.

When we draw simplistic causation, we alienate people.  We teach our children wrongly.

So stop it.  Stop saying stupid, self-aggrandizing things.

We can work our butts off, and we can be smart as a whip, and there’s no guarantee that things will work out.  That we’ll succeed.

And if that happens to you, it doesn’t mean that you’ve pissed off God, or that you deserve it.

It means that success didn’t happen.  Period.

(At least this time.  Keep trying or open yourself up to trying something new.)

Dropping our obsession with causation means that we stop torturing ourselves when things don’t turn out well.

And we stop patting ourselves on the back because we’re healthy, wealthy, or otherwise.

A couple weeks ago, I made a call to a woman who refers to herself as a “healers healer.”  Basically, she acknowledges that she does the work of helping to heal the healers, so that they can go back out and help other people.

She did a distance reading of me, and a spiritual healing, and yes, my fellow skeptic and scientific friends, she was psychic and legit and as real as you or I. She saw things she couldn’t have possibly seen or known, etc, etc.

I eventually told her of my daughter and I’s story. Like the other psychics and healers (including myself), whom I have consulted regarding my daughter and her apparent inability to make her own red blood cells, she said, “There’s nothing wrong with her.”

Nothing has been so mystifying.  After all, if nothing is indeed “wrong,” why is she slowly dying every month by not making her own blood?

The healer said other things too, like, “Of course, you know that the answer you’re looking for will not come from Western Medicine; it cannot cure her.”

She noted the cloud of sorrow around me, of the grief I carry. She helped me let some of it go.  I cried a lot.

I told her how I had realized a wound of some sort in the maternal family line.  How I had prayed, while pregnant, that my daughter would be freed from it.  But in doing so, it had not occurred to me that “breaking free” would mean that we would go so deeply into it.  I could not have imagined DBA.  I had thought it was an emotional, mental, energetic problem.

And how foolish of me!  Of one who knows the connections between the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  How foolish… I guess I had not ‘known’ the connection deeply enough, or I never would have asked for my child to be freed from it.  Especially because I know that to be free of anything, you must go into (or through) the challenge.  You must transform it, and thus yourself.  You don’t get to just identify it and bypass it.

And of course, this ultimately led to my supposition that I caused this problem for my child.  Through improper handling of stress, diet, or even just thinking that something was wrong at all.

At which point, she said to me:

“Erika, you did not cause this.  There is nothing you could have done.  Please hear me:  You did NOT cause this.  

You’re psychic.  You read this.”

You read this.

I have never once had anyone say those word to me.  It was immediately soothing to my tormented heart.

And I think back, now, to how so many things seemed to conspire against me in that pregnancy.  I was in a car accident in the 2nd month.  I worked in a detox center and was surrounded by people emitting toxins.  I moved in with a partner who was stressed about a job he felt “stuck” in.  I was finishing my 4th year of graduate school and a masters thesis and was taking board exams. A stressful family visit made me feel angry, sad, and isolated.

And that’s not all.

It seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn’t have a peaceful, uneventful pregnancy.  I chose novels to read at random, and they turned out to be about the holocaust, about sacrificing and abandoning one’s own children, about miscarriage, and about infanticide.

In the third trimester, my right kidney failed, repeatedly, flooding my body with pain neurotransmitters and stress hormones, and my right chi pulse, the one carrying the pulse of my child, dropped out with it.

Yet, the whole while, I tried to do the right thing.  I went swimming.  I stretched.  I meditated.  I did reiki and self-healing.  I did qi gong.  I laughed.  I played.  I finally found books that were safe (PG Wodehouse… an author of nothing but ridiculous British humor) and stuck to them, refusing to take chances on any other novels.  I obtained the minimum necessary board certification and gave up pursuit of additional certifications (much to the ridicule of my ego).  I stopped interacting with anyone who seemed to not understand me or stress me out.

I took fabulous semi-nude and naked pictures of myself and my belly/baby.  I received chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage.  I made myself healthy meals.   The moment I sensed something was wrong, I sought the advice and herbs of a master Chinese herbalist for pregnancy.  I sat in the garden.  I sang songs.  I wrote a journal to my baby, and poems, and stories.  I went bravely into a completely natural childbirth.

There is nothing you could have done.  You read this.

Will I let myself believe that?  Will I let myself accept that?

Will I let myself off the hook for my daughter’s illness?

Will I believe that her embodiment of DBA, this illness, is somehow necessary? That the fates or Gods or whoever, had destined this for us, and that no matter how prepared I was, no matter how vast and varied the tools I knew and know to promote a healthy pregnancy, that my efforts would be foiled?

That my daughter chose this life, this challenge, like a warrior choosing to enter the fray?

That it is part of some sort of plan?

That I read this?

That I tried my best to change our fates, but I could not, for it was not the cup for me to take away?

I think so.

Yes.  I might.

I do.

And do I believe that because you have not been stricken down, that because you are affluent, or healthy, or have survived your “health scare,” or have otherwise have emerged triumphant in life, that you are the blessed, the hard-working, the favored, the righteous?

No. No, I do not.

But you are lucky, my friend.  Know it and be humble, generous, and kind.
For fortunes can change overnight.

And Life is Paradox.

Yes, we have power in our lives.  We can make choices.  And these choices do affect us, and the people we love.

But we are also part of something larger.  Something that we do not control. (If we did, we would all be wealthy and immortal, would we not?)

We are not THE creators of the universe.  We are co-creators.

We have enormous power and we are mere servants.

There is Free Will and there is Destiny.

It’s not one or the other.  Its both.

And trust me, I get it:  It’s a lot to wrap one’s head around.  It is, in fact, unfathomable.

And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  Because it’s the way it is.

It’s part of the mystery, and part of the beauty.

And honestly, I’m not sure, but I think we might be lucky to be here at all.

The Night Before…

It’s the night before Adahlia’s 4th birthday.

And I had just written a quick Facebook post about how excited we all were… how I’m spoiling her, but I can’t help it, because every month its a miracle she’s still here, and with all the complications and big health scares, she is still, somehow, about to celebrate four years with us (nearly five if you count the time in my belly).

We finished icing her cake and cupcakes, decorated as per her request: pink icing, star sprinkles, flowers, butterflies, a bumblebee making honey, Hamiya (our cat), and her own name.

And then, as I’m getting her ready for bed, she says:  “I can’t wait for my last birthday!”

And then:  “Tomorrow is my last birthday!”

“Last” birthday?  Such as phrase has never escaped her mouth before.

She’s always said “fourth” birthday.

Each time she said “last birthday,” my jaw tightened.  My muscles around my heart constricted and I stopped breathing.

So, naturally, I could not say anything.

And once that moment passed, both times, I merely continued the joyful exclamations:  “It’s going to be wonderful!  I can’t wait!”

But, I mean, shit.

And all I have to say to Spirit on that one, is NO.

Of course, I understand that I really don’t have much of a say, ultimately, though I’m free to put up as much of a fight as I want, and to make my desires and intentions plainly known, as a co-creator of the divine plan.

And my vote is:  No!

I mean, come on.

Why am I relaying this to you all?  Why am I being “Miss Debbie Downer” right before her birthday, on a super holiday weekend promising all sorts of delights?

Well, because I’ve promised to write this blog honestly.  And while I do still promise to follow up this post with joyful pictures of her birthday celebrations, I also need to share that this happened.

Because it sucked.  It cast a bit of a shadow.   Ignorance is bliss… right?

Maybe.  But maybe we’re not meant to remain ignorant children forever.

Maybe we’re meant to figure out how to be joyful even when Shit SUCKS.

And so, maybe its a gift.

Because truth is, I cannot tell the future.  Is there anyway to know if this was just the random babbling of a child or the revelation of heavenly prophecy?  No.

Just in case, I’ll be sure to live it up tomorrow.  To make this weekend — and this upcoming year of her life — the most FANTASTIC series of moments yet.

Dammit, I WILL find a way to dance in the rain and not give a hoot about the future.

About any false and meaningless constructs.

I will break into a enlightened state of being where the future doesn’t exist and therefore does not need to be feared or mourned, despite what anyone (of any title, degree, or reality) tells me to the contrary.  A place where nothing exists except what is.

And that’s the fact that she’s still alive, we’re both still here playing, and anything can happen.

Adahlia has become very adamant recently that she doesn’t want any more transfusions.  The other day, she skinned her knee very badly and it bled profusely.  Exalted, she showed it to me, saying:  “Look, Mama, I AM making my own blood!”

Whether she is or not, I know it is up to me to find a way to clear the grief and sorrow of motherhood just as surely as all of its ignorant joys (joys that can be so easily squashed), to make room for something brighter, something everlasting, something timeless.

Something true.

Its a heck of a soul challenge — these sorrows and joys of motherhood are ancient, biblical, and have been ingrained into the very fabric of our DNA… but I accept.

I will clear it.  I will live in Light and Wisdom.  I will move into and through and transcend this experience.

And as I work to reclaim and remain cognizant of this ultimate reality, if you have a moment on Sunday, July 3rd, I want you to picture Adahlia in your mind, surrounded by a bubble of bright golden light.  And I want you to see this light pouring into her, infusing her, igniting the diamond-white light of her own life force, and then flowing back out again in an even brighter bubble of golden and diamond light, a light that will sustain, keep, and protect her for twenty, thirty, and even sixty more years.

Thanks for coming along on this ride.

Lov,e.