Wow. Well. This has been a week of some very extreme ups and downs. The ups included a bitchin' karaoke birthday party in Adams Morgan, a delicious Melting Pot dinner, reminders that I have an amazing inner circle of people who love and care about me and a night on the town that ended in me telling a shirtless stranger that he looked fantastic. The downs aren't worth mentioning.
Monday morning found me sitting in my car with a horrible, constricting weight on my chest, feeling small and alone and frightened. As I sat there, I started to think about how a belief in God is such a powerful force for people going through hard times.
I don't believe in God. Or rather, I don't believe in a personal, benevolent God. I feel like there's some order to the universe, something at play, but I think it must be so beyond human comprehension that I don't spend any time worrying about it. (To be clear, I have a hunch, but I am completely open to the idea my hunch is wrong. I'm a true agnostic - I guess how things work, but I readily admit I don't know. I certainly don't think I'm more right in my beliefs than anyone else is.) I don't feel like good is a greater force in this world than evil. I think that both need each other to exist, and your experiences and viewpoint determine which you see more of. I don't believe there is something watching over me, that has my best interests at heart, because it just doesn't seem practical to me. Out of my tragedies comes another's joy. Out of another's suffering is my gratitude that it isn't mine. It is necessary for some people to have horrible things happen to them, to have horrible lives. In the short term, this seems cruel, but in the overall scheme of things, to me, it makes sense.
However, as I sat there in my car, listening to Coldplay and trying not to cry, I remembered a time when I did believe in a God that had a plan for me, that loved me, that would make sure I was ok. In that moment, I wanted that belief back so dearly. I leaned back, imagined a gentle, comforting embrace, and pretended, just for a minute, to believe in God.
It gave me a sense of peace, but ultimately I couldn't suspend my disbelief for more than a few minutes. And so, because I have the best job on the planet, I got out of my car, walked into someone else's house, hugged a sweet and elderly dog named Sam and cried into his soft, black, curly fur.
I had a strong belief in God until I was about 19 or 20, and certainly don't feel a hole left by its presence. I believe in optimism, in love, in faith. I have a strong spiritual core, despite not believing in a personal God. I feel utterly at peace with the world and my place in it, and as I've mentioned before, I know that my life is going to be good. I have maintained most of the benefits a belief in God brings, I just draw them from different wells. This, though, for the first time in years, made me wonder if there's something about believing in a conscious higher power that you just can't achieve without that belief.
In the end it doesn't matter. I don't believe that, and can't make myself believe it just because there might be benefits to that belief. I'll just keep finding ways to get myself through hard times. I haven't failed yet.