Faith Of Our Fathers

August 17, 2006 at 10:18 PM | Posted in Personal | 5 Comments
  . . .Faith of Our Sons
 
  The wife, when I first met her, belonged to this weird church, and I was an angry young know-it-all atheist.  Being with her, I started to soften a bit, but still, when she said, "I’d like you to come to church with me sometime, if you could–"
  I would snort and say, "Yeah, right."
  She didn’t drag me in to it–she was much more reasonable twenty years ago.  But I met some people, and talked with them, and asked some questions.  And I got answers.  The answers I got worked for me.  That is the important thing about faith, and about belief.  You have to believe it.  Kind of obvious, but the contrary, to not believe, builds dissent within your heart.
  I believed.  For the first time in my life, I had something to believe, and a concrete set of personal tenets, plus a support group in the form of a congregation that shared my beliefs.   This sense of community was a new experience for me as well, and I relished it.
  But on a personal level, my faith became important to me.  It made me happy, gave me purpose, made me feel sure about my future.  On a very real, material level, I saw and experienced some miracles.
  Miracles are a very personal thing.  You won’t see the skies open or the seas part, or lepers healed, or the lame become cool.  But the miracles, the smallest of things, become your personal witness to the glory of God.  I had some miracles in my life.
  So, I joined.  We got married first, and then I joined.  We had been living in sin, fornicating–hell, she was pregnant–so we had to get married first.  I was baptised, and then she was actually disfellowshipped for about a year–call it double-secret probation.  Then she was reinstated.  We remained active, and went every week, participated in church functions, held church offices, even.  I was secretary of the priesthood group, the men’s club.
  One sunday, early in March, in the early ’90’s, I was in the priesthood meeting.  A member walked in, tapped me on the shoulder:  a phone call.  I grumbled something about how did my work find me *here*?  I didn’t notice then that he retained his somber expression.  I picked up the phone.  It was my older son Mike, he was sobbing.
  "Dad!  The baby died!  She died in her sleep!  My baby died!"  My granddaughter.  Rotha Marie, less than a month old.
  I dropped the phone, I crumbled, I actually crumbled to the ground.  Someone went to get Linda, who was in one of the classrooms.  She was told her husband collapsed on the floor, and she came running out.  All I could do was hand her the phone.  From the floor, I could see her screaming.  "What!?  What!?  NO!  Michael, NO!  NO!"
  Somehow, we got off the phone, we told Mike we would be there.  Linda’s friend Ruth drove us over.  She was trying to fill the silence, and she started to say something about God’s plan, the little angel, she must have been a wonderful soul for God to call her back so soon.  Blah fucking blah.
  I cut her off.  "Ruth, I know you mean well, and I believe it, I believe it too.  I believe you.  Right now I don’t fucking want to hear it."
 
  I’m sorry Ruth.  I’m so, so sorry.
 
  We get to the house, and the ambulance is there, the EMT’s are there, ready to take her away.  My wife tells me I must give the baby a blessing.  As a priesthood holder, as the patriarch of the family, it is my duty.  WIth an EMT holding her tiny body, I place my fingers lightly on her forehead.  Tears are coming down my face.  I have no idea now what I said.  "Bless this child, oh Lord, watch over her and keep her.  Bless us, that we may never forget her, and hold her always in our hearts.  Thank you Lord, for letting us spend a little time with your angel.  Please protect us and comfort us now, as we go on without her.  In Jesus name, Amen."
  They took her away.
  There followed the funeral, which was on our wedding anniversary.  But our church attendance slid slowly down the couch and onto the floor.  Eventually, we weren’t going, weren’t talking about it, weren’t thinking about it, weren’t really living it.
  Occasionally someone from church, the missionarries or someone, a home teacher, would come by, and we would talk.  Linda grew more distant to them, and perhaps even shooed them away when I wasn’t home.  Once when someone was there, we got into the discussion, and asked Linda, well, why won’t you come back to church?
  Her answer:  Because something always happens when I do!  Someone always dies, or gets sick, or something always happens to someone.  God only gives me what I can handle, and I can’t handle any more!  Satan pushes me and tempts me, and I can’t handle it.  God wants things from me that I can’t do.  I can’t!  I can’t do it!  The only thing these kids have left is their Uncle Johnny, my brother.  As soon as I go back, he’ll be taken away from them!  I can’t do it.  I can’t.
  We weren’t going to church last year, when Johnny got sick, and we weren’t going this year, when he died–so what does it matter, Linda!?  Goddammit, what does it matter?  What does it matter at all? 
  What does it fucking matter?
  If we had been going regularly, if we had been attending, been good, faithful members–this thing I have been in would not have happened.  I would not be with Kim.  Plain and simple,  I just wouldn’t.  I would have been a more attentive husband, the wive would have been. . . . .wow. . . would she?  would she be easier to get along with?  Would she have been smoother, more understanding, would there have been less berating and yelling?
  Probably.  Really hard to say.  Maybe I would have been more willing to put up with it.  That is neither here nor there.
  But then I never would have met Kim.  Things happen for a reason.  I. . .guess I believe this.  Someone I know does, and I trust her.  I am starting to accept this.  Listen, I stopped going, and my faith has waned to a trickle, but I still believe.  I still believe in God, and in Jesus, and I am still grateful every day for what they have done for me.  Without Jesus, I never would have kicked my serious drug problem, almost twenty years ago.  I sure as shit couldn’t do it on my own, I know that.  I didn’t even *want* to.
  I explained all of this to Kim, and my crisis of faith.  She didn’t understand, at first, until I explained in detail my relationship with God, and with the church.  I won’t even tell you which church, because I am embarrassed.  Not for me, for them.  It is a good church, and it has been given a bad rap.  I am a poor, poor example, and that is why I won’t say.  If you figure it out from clues that I have given, please keep it to yourself.
  I explained how deeply I had been in.  I am a member of the priesthood.  I have given blessings.  I have performed baptisms.  I baptized my son.  I have taught classes.
 
  Once, in Sunday school class–the one for adults–there was a large group of us in the chapel for the general class.  Course of study, Old Testament.  Topic today, the story of Samson and Delilah.  Of course, everyone has heard the story, and thinks they are familiar with it.  We dig a little deeper, because that’s how we are.  But the head of the class, a lay person like me (that’s the T.O. of our church: a lay ministry, even the Bishop of our local branch, like all the rest, is a regular guy with a regular job) was just trying to get through the lesson in a light-hearted fashion.  There was some laughing and joking of course.  We are essentially a happy people.
  My wife, sitting next to me, serious as a heart attack and almost as humorless, shaking her head to herself, finally had to cut in.  While I agree with her about the lesson, the context that it played in and the fact that she is a complete downer, it never occurred to her to just let it go.  Her point:
  What you are forgetting here is the the promise God made to Samson.  God told Samson he was destined for great things, if he would but remain faithful to the Lord.  The story about Delilah may just be allegorical, but what it means is that Samson was a great man, with a great destiny, but he was weak, and he caved in to his urges.  He could have been important, but he had no self-control.
  He let God down
.
  I don’t want to give the impression that I think of Kim as my Delilah.  As I said, it is a metaphor.  God deals in parables to get his point across to idiots (us).  But long before Kim came along, I felt like Samson. 
  I feel I let God down.
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5 Comments »

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  1. damn straight I\’m not your Delilah!
    hmmm… I\’m thinking maybe another woman you know was your Delilah…. she tried to take away what makes you special and strong…  I\’m hoping to help make you aware it\’s still there.
     
    "I\’m not bad, I\’m just drawn that way"… lol, and what movie is that line from?
     
    and baby, you haven\’t let anyone down. especially God.
     
     

  2. I am a firm believer in not having to belong to a church or go to a church just to have faith. I think a lot of churches are over rated and they all need to get the same message straight. Not saying my son isn\’t baptized because he is and it was really important to me and my family, but I am not a practicing member, but you can be damn sure I thank God for everything he has given me each day. Pain, throwing up, my new baby, everything.

  3. Hello Brian, pleased to meet you!
    I keep thinking that my best stuff\’s behind me, too. But then I think no, it\’s just different.
    I expect you\’re the same.
    I have been here before, I just haven\’t left a comment. that\’s probably because I\’m shy.
    Kim\’s a sweetie, isn\’t she?
     I shall return!
    best wishes from cloudy Sunday Morning England,
    Graham

  4. You did not let God down Bryan.  If anybody let him down it was me; and you know why.

  5. I imagine since he created us human, he gets when we act human. At least I hope so…


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