When I was a young boy, I used to ask God to make deals with me,
but the deals never worked out.
I used to talk to Him about this and I would ask God why.
But he never answered me.
When I asked an adult about this I was told, “God doesn’t work like that.”
Then I asked, “Then how does He work?”
The adult smiled, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”
That answer was not helpful.
For a long time I was the anti-god. I was against all religions, especially my own. Why would I want to be from a Jewish background when there was so much hatred towards it?
When I was twelve, I wanted to play basketball, but the only league in my neighborhood was the C.Y.O (The Catholic Youth Organization)
Needless to say, I was the only Jewish kid on the team. This was quickly discovered too and often pointed out.
I asked God why this was happening to me, but he never explained.
I had no idea about the difference in my religion. I never knew there were different versions or beliefs in God. At that age, I thought saying someone was Jewish or Catholic was similar to the difference of saying I was from New York and someone else was from New Jersey.
I had heard the term, “The Virgin Mary,” before, but I never knew what that meant. No one ever told me Mary was the Mother of God. In fact, no one ever told me God had a Mom.
One evening before practice, three of the bigger boys on the team lined a few of the other players against the lockers in the St Raphael’s locker room.
They asked each kid against the locker a different question, but when they got to me they asked, “Do you believe in the Virgin Mother?”
I was young, but I was old enough to know what a virgin was, and I knew you needed to have sex in order to have a child.
So rather than answer, “Yes,” and allow the boys to move their hazing onto someone else, I answered honestly.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” I told them.
“How can you be a mother and a virgin at the same time?”
The smack across my face was the kind that left a loud ringing in my ear. I saw a quick flash behind my eyelids when the opened hand wrapped across my cheek.
I had never been hit in the face before . . .
I was at the age that most fights happened in school, and most of them, if not all, were quick spurts of wrestling until a teacher came in to stop the brawl.
This time, there was no one around to stop the fight. Before I could open my eyes and bring my chin back around, the boy smacked me with his other hand, causing another bright flash behind my eyelids, and it brought my chin around to the opposite shoulder.
I was unsure why this happened to me.
I thought to myself, “I should have just said yes,” instead of inviting the humiliation.
This was not religion class. This was not someplace for me to fight; this was supposed to be where I went to play basketball, which of course, being the smallest and weakest on the team left me riding the bench for the entire season. And that was something else that came with humiliation.
I wanted to quit, but my Old Man said, “No.”
I never told him what happened. I only told him, “The kids don’t like me.”
“All the more reason why you shouldn’t quit,” The Old Man said. “It shows they can’t bully you and you won’t give up.”
At the time, I thought it was easy for The Old Man to say that.
After all; it was me that had to go to practice and it was me that had to take the abuse. Not him.
The team went undefeated that year. I was able to play, but this usually happened once we were far ahead on points and at the end of the games.
After the game, we celebrated, but I was somewhat left out.
I tried to join in, but I never felt as if I was part of the victory.
I asked God why this was.
He never told me . . .
The definition of spirituality is one word; balance.
There is peace in balance.
I see balance as an acceptance of self, and since I never felt acceptable or justified within my own skin, my only way to achieve balance was external.
I used external remedies to balance the internal struggles; however, these means were only temporary.
After the introduction of alcohol came the vomit—and there is no way to feel balanced when the room spun around and my face was in the mouth of a toilet.
(Or, “Praying to the porcelain god,” as it’s called)
Since the theories of God did not work for me, I decided that I would not work for Him. I enjoyed the darker side of fast and loud music. I liked the threat it posed and the discomfort that came about from its violence.
I enjoyed the rebellious attention that came with my image, and I furthered that image by carving inverted pentagrams and upside down crosses into my arms.
I carved the commercially believed devil numbers of “666” in my hands with a pin, and in some places, I used the edge of a blade.
I explain these numbers as commercially believed because after some research even in the satanic bible, I found this to be inaccurate.
The number was “9,” not “6.”
(Everything is supposedly inverted and backwards in hell . . . at least that’s what I was told)
This act too was an act to achieve balance. My outrage was to counteract the awkwardness, but my outrage often tipped the scales too far in the other direction.
To say I was godless would be inaccurate. I believed in God, but in my eyes, my beliefs failed me, so I responded out of anger and resentment.
If there was a God, then why would He let me feel as I did?
Why did I have to feel so awkward, or struggle?
“Maybe God hates me,” I thought. “So maybe I’ll just hate Him back.”
The first time I saw an actual pistol and heard the crack of a gunshot, which followed with the sound of a body slamming into the car, I was in East New York Brooklyn.
I quickly forgot about my hatred for God. I forgot that I said, “I would never pray to Him again,” and with a silvery revolver pointing at my head, my first thoughts was this: “Please God, don’t let him kill me.”
This thought came quicker than the sound of a gunshot.
“Please don’t let them shoot me.”
I survived and so did everyone else in the car. The person that was shot was hit in the shoulder and he was able to run away. This instance could be considered an awakening, or a moment of divine intervention, whereas, we survived the face of death as a generous lesson from above, we should have taken this lesson and went home.
But once we left safely, we forgot about the intervention, and I forgot about my fear and prayer. Instead of leaving the neighborhood and accepting the warning, we went someplace else and continued what we were doing . . .
The idea of religion and spirituality are separate. Spirituality is a destination and religion is a vehicle. At the time, my vehicle was narcotics.
The same can be said for religion and salvation.
Salvation means to protect from destruction, and while my vehicle was in itself, destructive, I was saved in the euthanized moments of a dope nod.
True, the nods would only last so long, but in those fleeting moments of my mental cocoon, I felt redeemed.
Robert Fulghum once wrote, “Arguing whether or not God exists is like fleas arguing whether or not the dog exists. Arguing over the correct name of God is like the fleas arguing over the name of the dog. And arguing over whose notion of God is correct is like the fleas arguing over who owns the dog.”
(This comes from his book UH-OH page 137)
I do not judge or condemn the atheist or agnostic. Firstly, because it is not my place to judge or condemn anyone.
They believe and I believe.
We just believe differently and that ends that.
I have discussions with close friends about this all the time. They choose not to believe, but this does not make them any less beautiful in my eyes.
Same as I have freedom of faith, so do they.
And faith . . . that too is a term usually sided with religion. Faith in God is different from faith in man. Faith in heaven is not the same as faith in tomorrow, which means everyone has faith. We just choose to place it in different ways.
There used to be a team of Jehovah’s Witnesses that walked along my block, early on the weekend mornings, and they would preach about God and try to bring others into the light of Christ. However, after opening my door one early morning, shirtless and unhappy, with a large demon prominently tattooed on the center of my chest, they stopped coming to my house.
I suppose they saw me as godless and according to the bible, it says, “Do not give what is sacred to dogs. Do not cast your pearls before swine, for if you do, they will trample them under foot and tear you to pieces.”
This comes from Matthew 7:6
I suppose I was the dog in this application. Perhaps they judged me as the swine. Oddly enough; I was interested in talking to them . . . just not before I had my coffee.
I have faith in God because I want to, yet, I have no right in faulting anyone that chooses not to. I have no place in saying whether they will or will not receive salvation, or find redemption within themselves. I have no right to say whether they are good people or bad . . . and it even says so in the bible.
I have no right to judge who will or will not be justified.
“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
This is from Matthew 7:2
As a vehicle to my own inner piece, I chose to become an ordained minister. This is an easy task, which anyone can do; however, I chose to do this because I prefer to have faith in God. This does not mean I believe God saves us all. People live and people die. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good.
I read the bible. I read both the old Testament and the New. But I also read the Quran and the Bhagvad Gita because though these books are from different religions, there is only one truth, and rather than debate the difference between literal and figurative; I would rather find truth, because truth is also an excellent vehicle towards inner peace
Currently, I am watching over the case of a family with a young child in hospice. And while I struggle to understand why this would happen to such a beautiful young boy with a beautiful family; I still believe.
I believe in the energy of prayer, but prayer without effort, is useless.
I believe in the energy of prayer, and that energy creates motivation.
Motivation creates action and action creates change.
And right now, a change is needed for this little boy’s survival
I believe because it helps me.
And if I’m wrong, who does it hurt?
And if my prayer creates energy, and energy brings motivation, then motivation will create action, and my actions have caused a change from who I was into who I am now
Thanks be to God