The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED FIFTY TWO: HOW I FEEL ABOUT GOD BUT NOT PREACHING ABOUT IT.
Guess what? People on all sides of the ‘God’ subject is going to disagree with me. And that’s fine. You may not believe what I’m saying but believe I believe in what I’m saying. But before you pass judgment on me, read what I have to say. You might find we have common ground.
Got it? Good.
Let’s get on with it…
I have mentioned in previous blog posts that I believe in God. I always have. But as I have got older, the reasons I believe in a high power has changed.
But I’ll get to that.
First, a little backstory…
As a kid, my family didn’t go to church very often. There were a few failed attempts in us going every Sunday. And to be honest, I hated it. I hated getting dressed up (I still do) in itchy button-up shirts and putting on a dang tie (I still do. Portable nooses is all they are.) and going somewhere where I know NOBODY. I would get left in some Sunday school day-care while my parents and sister would go into the main church. At the time, I had no idea what was going on in there. All I knew was I would get into trouble if I took the tie off or dirty my dress clothes and I had to play with kids that had no idea who I was. Even as a kid, it took me time to get to know someone. I was awfully shy and could cry at a drop of a hat.
Then they would come to get me and I would sulk all the way home. I counted the seconds until I could get those stupid dress clothes off and into something more comfortable. It felt like I was having to go to school on Sunday. I was already going to school five out of seven days. Why were they taking more time away from me?
But, those excursions to church didn’t last long. I believe they lasted about a month. Then a Sunday came and my stomach would go into fits thinking about getting dressed up and then… nothing. Nothing was said, the dress clothes didn’t come out, nothing. And it continued to be nothing.
I think my parents tried to get God into me by making me watch church on TV after actually going to church flopped. I tolerated this more. I didn’t have to get dressed up and I could sit in my bean bag chair in the den and watch these ministers talk into a microphone to the crowd. Then they would sing songs I didn’t know other than Amazing Grace (which I barely knew). As I said, I tolerated it.
Now, there was one type that I would sit down in front of the TV for without being prodded and one man in particular. His name was Ernest Angley. Some of you may not know who he is (as of this writing, he is still alive at 96). I would suggest looking him up and then continuing. But I would be you do know who this TV evangelist is. He would preach and then, the part I would wait for, he would bring people up on stage who had afflictions (deaf, blind, couldn’t walk, alcoholic, etc.) and ‘pull the devil’ from them. Let’s say they were deaf. He would pray that the devil would leave their body, put his fingers into their ear and yell out, ‘DEVIL, COME OUT!!!’ and yank his hand away. Then he would talk into the ear or ears that had been deaf and whisper ‘say baby’ or ‘ say baby Jesus’ or something to that effect and they would suddenly be cured.
As a child, I wasn’t sure if I should believe it or not. I tended to question such things even at a young age, but it was exciting to watch.
Most of the time, I laughed my fool head off. It was so dang funny.
You see, he had a real southern accent and he would talk to these people like they were idiots or stupid children. His voice was what had me laughing. I once got into trouble with my dad for walking around the house doing Angley’s voice.
“Devil come OUT!!!”
Yeah, he didn’t like it. I think he knew it was all BS, but he didn’t want me making fun of these people that were on the stage.
But, I’m sure he knew it was all fake. Every bit of it. The people on stage and Ernest Angley himself. False and phony. Eventually, even his influence stopped working on me and didn’t watch any religious shows. It wasn’t because of God but the audacity of the whole thing. They all seemed fake and wanted money to drive cars and live in mansions for God.
Years past and then I found myself going to church again at the end of my high school years. I became a Morman.
For a girl.
Yep. That is a wrong reason to join a church. I knew it then but love is love is love.
And, honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I made some friends. Two of them I’m still friends with today. There was one nice trip to a ski resort with some of the young singles we were friends with and hanging out with one of my besties, Laura, who I learned so much from.
Yet, when I went to church, I felt like an outsider, the black sheep among all the white ones. Even though my girlfriends family was considered a formable family inside the church, I felt like I was looked at under a microscope as some sort of thing. They saw my Camero and my loud music and always wearing a baseball hat and thought I might influence their children into doing bad things. Now here’s the funny thing, even at that age, I was pretty straight-laced. I didn’t drink and I didn’t smoke and I really wanted to fit in. I would hang out with these kids who grew up in the church and heard about their rendezvous and light drug and alcohol use and their late night fumblings in the backseats of cars and I would think to myself, ‘If these parents find out about their kids doing this stuff, they’re going to blame me.’ I was given a false rap on things I didn’t do but looked like I might do. It gave me a bad attitude.
I found myself going to church less and less. I started out for the girlfriend and then to impress her parents and if I was lucky, I might actually start liking it regardless. But it was a failure. I found myself not going and breaking up with my girlfriend.
After that, I steered away from anybody who was religious. I was afraid of finding myself caught up in the same situation, trying to believe in something just to impress.
All this time, I still believed in God but I became lax on that belief. Nobody was making me believe one way or another and I didn’t feel God in my life. The idea that God exists started to waiver.
Then, years later, I had a daughter. My then wife, Rhonda, and I gave birth (ok, she did all of the real work) to a little girl. There was fear at the beginning of labor that this little girl may have some problems. They planned an emergency c-section because our baby wasn’t getting the blood flow like she should have and her heartbeat was going down rapidly. As I waited to go into the O.R. to be with Rhonda, I sat on a bench and prayed. I prayed like I had never prayed before. I asked that God take me if somebody needed to be taken. I wanted this little girl to come out and have the life she deserved.
And out she came. Smaller than she needed to be and had to stay in the hospital another month so she could gain weight. But other than that, she was healthy.
While we were pregnant, we had started going to a church, a Baptist church, every Sunday. Again, not a fan of getting dressed up and, again, I was going because of a girl. Not for me.
But when my daughter was born, I wanted that feeling to be different. I had prayed that she would be fine and she was. So I felt I owed God for it. The preacher had come up to see us in the hospital and after a few minutes, I asked him outside the room and told him I wanted to be baptized. We prayed and it wasn’t too after that I was.
For a few weeks, I felt pretty good. I felt I did the right thing. I also felt I had washed off the bad feelings I had with the Morman church.
Then, those old feelings started to creep in again. I felt like I had done all of this for the wrong reasons. I had got baptized because I felt like I needed to for my daughter, like a sacrifice. I started to have long, deep thoughts about why was I going to church. And I came up with the same reason why I had become a Morman. It wasn’t for me. Not at all. Again, I did it for somebody else. Even though I did it for Rhonda to a point and I mostly did it for feeling like I owed something to God for my daughter, I wasn’t doing it for the most important reason of them all.
If you are going to believe in God and go to a specific church, you have to do it for you.
After our divorce, I promised myself I would never do it again. I would never do something like that because I was being guilted into doing it. Whether the guilt came from another person or from myself.
I have decided that going to church isn’t for me. If there’s a wedding or some sort of ceremony my wife and I are invited to, that’s one thing. I can put on a tie and a scratchy suit and go. I can pray with people in public with no problems at all for those occasions. As for finding a church and going every Sunday or whatever, I’ll never do it again.
Some of you are saying that I’m not honoring God if I don’t. God says so in the Bible.
That’s something else. And, understand, this is what I believe. God didn’t write the Bible. People did. Though they say they wrote it from what God told them, they still wrote it. And it’s quite probable some of those writers might have juiced some things up and completely lied. It’s 100% possible if not 100% probable. I’m not trying to make you to believe or not believe in the Bible. I’m just saying what I believe. There are lots of contradictions between those pages of the Christian Bible. And maybe other Bibles, though I don’t know.
I believe God talks to me through that ‘still small voice’. It’s also known as your conscience. That voice lets me know when I do well or not. It also tells me what I need to do even though it’s extremely difficult.
We should all have that, believe in God or not.
I think for those that believe in God, you can either hide behind what you are lead to believe in because it’s what’s expected of you or you can believe in what you have learned on your own.
And if you don’t believe in God or believe in something in entirely something else, that’s completely OK with me. Nothing in that says we can’t be friends and laugh together and care for one another. Nothing says were aren’t both right or wrong.
But I believe you have to believe in something. It has to be a positive force against badness, against evil.
Also, I have become a man of science. I have read books by and follow people such as Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and even Bill Nye the Science Guy. I am a firm believer in what they have to say. You’re probably wondering how I can say I believe in God and believe in what they do. Well, Hawkings flip-flopped over time (pun intended) on the existence of God, finally settling there must be a higher power. Even Carl Sagan couldn’t discount a higher power exists. Being a man that wanted more facts, he simply could not say yes or no.
Scientists can understand what happened up until the Big Bang. Before that moment, it is completely unknown. Can’t God exist and be the reason that one massive explosion started from a pinprick? Most scientists can’t say one way or another. I believe science can prove religion and religion can go with science.
I personally believe they can coexist.
I believe in God. I still believe in God. Not because I should but because I need to personally. If there is a God, that means Heaven exists and those that have left me will be there waiting. And when I’m gone, I can wait for those that I have left behind. Plus the idea that after this life you wink into nothingness depresses the hell out of me. I can’t go for that kind of thinking.
Now, if you believe that once we’re gone, there’s nothing, but I’m right, then you’ll be in for a happy surprise. The jokes on you but I think you’ll be relived. We can laugh about it and enjoy it.
If I’m the one that’s wrong, well, you won’t be able to laugh at me when you die. Can you?
So, please understand, I’m not preaching. You have to believe in what you believe. If that gets you through the day, that’s all that matters. And, honestly, I don’t care on what side you fall on in this eons-long debate. I only care what I believe in.
One last thing. The idea of God being a Him has always irked me. If we are created in God’s image, wouldn’t he be all genders? Or genderless? Maybe calling God Him is a bit sexist. I think when (if) we see God, God might look like us, as if looking into a mirror. I mean, who better to judge you than… you.
So, the whole Adam’s rib thing, kind of silly if you ask me.
It is what it is. And always has been.
So sayeth the Loyd.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
June 28th, 2019
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.