Blog: Does I Believe In God? Let's Find Out
(originally written 10/26/10)
(Disclaimer: As I write this, I am not overcome by a wave of bitterness or a sudden epiphany. The motivation behind this blog is neither a catastrophic loss nor a devastating streak of misfortune. I’m coming at you with all cylinders greased, an unbroken heart, and a healthy outlook.)
(Disclaimer 2: This is not a softball blog.)
On Friday afternoon, the 22nd of October 2010, all was fairly well for one Skillz. Sure, I’m not quite ready to snap up a Benz or lease a condo overlooking the ocean. But my kid and I are healthy and happy.
Myself, two of my softball teammates and a guy named Tim (who I’ve met once before, about a year ago) have gathered at Columbus Park in San Jose for what ended up being a round of batting practice.
One teammate, Big Danny, crunches ball after ball deep into the stratosphere, each one appearing to be a second sun as it soars into the clouds. I…do not. I poke a medium-deep fly here and there, but cannot consistently drive the ball as I know I can.
We take a second round. You’ve heard of the cow that jumped over the moon? Well, during this round, Danny made it his mission to concuss that cow with one of his meteors. I’m telling you, he destroyed these balls so savagely, one could almost hear them screaming in terror as they were pitched.
During my second turn, without changing a thing, I began to crush the ball, too—not as consistently as Danny, but about at the level that I’m used to. Then BP ended, and we all went to our rides and booked it.
Except me. I sat at my ride pouting because my swing is jacked up again.
I don’t know the exact figure, but it felt like about five or so minutes of me sitting there shaking my head, distressed that my softball power swing isn’t up to Danny’s lofty standard. “He’s half my size. He’s twice my age. What GIVES?” I remember actually throwing my hands up to the sky in wonderment.
That’s when she appeared—a woman on a bike going down Asbury Street, which runs behind the field. She was very, very thin. Many moons had passed since her last visit to a laundromat. Her teeth resembled piano keys. What hair I could see protruding from her cap seemed capable of effectively scrubbing a bathtub.
Amount of time elapsed between witnessing this woman and a feeling of idiocy enveloping me: two seconds.
Was I really pouting over a swing when there is SO MUCH MORE that could be amiss in my life?
Yeah. Guilty as charged.
I don’t know this woman’s story. I don’t know how she ended up homeless, with a bike as her most valuable possession. She could once have been beautiful and promising. But for reasons that will remain mysterious to me, she’s on the street now, probably scavenging refuse containers for sustenance. Only God knows what happened to her.
When I was about 12, I was walking to school one morning when some unbalanced dude caught up to me and asked “Does you believe in God?”
Well, in 1992 I pretty much believed everything anyone told me, so I said “Yes.” Before the conversation could go further, he saw a nun across the street to harass. “Hey sister, got a minute?”
Does I believe in God today, 18 years later, now that I am slightly smarter than I was at age 12?
I don’t know.
I WANT to believe in God and the afterlife and angels and spirits, I truly do. I want to think that people I’ve loved who aren’t alive anymore, like my beloved uncles Bubba and William, my cousin Ashanti, etc. are up there in the sky waiting for me to join them someday. And that in the meantime, they’re watching my back, making sure my unfiltered, defiant mouth doesn’t get me in TOO much trouble.
I WANT to believe that we are rewarded for living the right way and being loyal to Him with an eternity of happiness. I WANT to believe that we don’t end when our bodies do, that our stories aren’t fully told in 100 years or less.
I WANT to believe that one of the perks of being dead is being able to arrange a meeting with my guardian angel and learn which girls liked me back in high school. (If the total is any whole number, I’ll be amazed. I wasn't much of a catch back then. But I'm not here to talk about the past.)
I also WANT and NEED to believe that people who do horrible things are punished via permanent, fiery exile deep within the Earth. Like the two guys from Ghost who conspired to rob Patrick Swayze and killed him instead. Talk about comeuppance!
But then I think: if there is a God, and he’s just and he’s good, why would he allow Sandra Cantu to be raped and murdered at age eight by someone she trusted? Why would he allow Tiffany Hill and two accomplices to bury an elderly couple alive just to steal from them? Why does he let Benjamin Martin set a homeless man ON FIRE? Why does he allow two KIDS to shoot an unarmed ice cream woman in the chest? Why does he allow mothers to be so neglectful that a whole family is incinerated by a tipped candle?
Why do attack dogs get to rip two-year-olds apart limb from limb? Why does Katie Piper get acid thrown in her face just for dumping a guy? Why are there entire organizations that maim and slaughter innocents under the pretense of religion? Why do hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and earthquakes wipe out entire cities, and in some cases, nations? Why is there scum working hard to scam others, rather than aid them, during times of crisis (like Sonya Smith and Lisa Justin)? Why is there poverty? Why is there widespread famine? Why are there about a million fatal, incurable, undetectable-until-it’s-too-late diseases?
If God wants us to procreate for the purpose of sustaining the human race, why can even SEX kill you???
Why am I, a vulgar, offensive, bombastic, tactless, judgmental, selfish, immature, unsympathetic, condescending, misanthropic person who rarely does anything unless there’s something in it for him still breathing our air while brave, responsible, genuinely good people are being shot to death almost daily in war, with wives and children left to mourn them? While I’m at it, why is there war? Why do we have to kill each other by the thousands to solve anything?
In the book Moneyball written about the inner workings of the Oakland A’s front office, a chapter is devoted to then-A’s reliever Chad Bradford.
Bradford was a devout believer, I can’t recall if he was Christian or Catholic, but whatever it was, he was committed. His problem, at least as an athlete, was a lack of belief in himself. It hindered his progress up the professional ladder until one of his coaches raised the question: “You believe in a God that you can’t see. So why don’t you believe you can get major league hitters out when you see that with your own eyes?” After pondering that, he flourished, and went on to a very good career.
I don’t see God either, but I do see a lot of stuff happen that the God I’ve heard about should be against. Some of it happens to people who pray to Him daily, whose word they live their lives by, whose guidance they follow. My grandmother, who saw her first child stillborn, was a victim of domestic abuse for years, almost murdered, and later died a slow death from Alzheimer’s, is but one example.
While I will never do anything extreme like renounce my Christianity or become an atheist or try to have the Pledge of Allegiance edited or tell sneezers “you’re SO good-looking”, I think it’s safe to say I’ve said my last real prayer and read my last Bible verse. Know that I am not judging anyone else who is devoted to God and committed to His word. I hope my thoughts and words do not offend you; I have nothing but respect for those (properly) devoted to their faith.
I’ll just treat God as if he were my mom—meaning I’ll continue to try and do the right thing just in case. Cuz even today, at age 30 and living 80+ miles away, my mom KNOWS if I messed up and will deal with me accordingly. And if it turns out God DOES exist, not even He could save me from my mama’s wrath…