When We Began with Worms
March 19, 2015
I’ll open up a can of worms. I’ll knock it over and they’ll come spilling out, writhing and vomit-y with bits of earth still attached to them. It might make us feel uncomfortable and uneasy and it will be good for us. Ok? Good. Let’s go.
Is it true that we are “meant to do” something? Every so often, once every 13 minutes or so, I ask myself if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And then my mind goes down the rabbit hole. How do I know? Is he doing what he’s meant to be doing? If he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt, how does he know? Did he hear an audible voice? Did it come to him in a dream? Does he just feel it in his bones? Did he have a Dr. Suess moment where a man with a curly mustache strolled by with a red-hatted monkey on a leash and that somehow turned into an epiphanic moment for him on his life’s purpose? Or maybe he is just as unsure as I feel.
Of course, this leads us to questions of origin and God and free will versus divine appointment. See? Weighty, wormy stuff.
My husband and I disagree about a lot of this stuff. I’ll be honest—it’s hard. It’s hard to have differing opinions on such big ideas that have the potential to provide the framework for how an entire life is lived. But the questions are good, they are questions I have never really been forced to ask myself. Questions like: do I only believe in God out of fear, or perhaps because I was conditioned to? Do I really believe that a snake once spoke and a man lived in the belly of a whale? How is it fair to create humans with a choice of whether or not to believe in God only to then punish them with hell if they don’t? What would my life be like if I had grown up in a different family, a different culture? Would I still believe?
I’ve resisted writing down these thoughts for a long time, mainly because it’s uncomfortable and I haven’t wanted to label myself as anything. I don’t love labels. As soon as you say you are something then automatically you are pigeon holed into a particular type of person. But also, the kinks are still being worked out in my mind and I don’t have many of the answers to the above mentioned questions. But I’ve realized that’s it’s likely I never will, and I’m hoping we have evolved past the point of assuming that just because I talk about and believe in God that means I won’t like you or listen to you if you don’t believe in God, so I might as well start to try and get some of it down and out.
I want an unwavering, strong-as-nails faith. I see it in other people. But it has to be real, it has to be tested and it has to be my own. I can’t prove God and I can’t prove heaven or hell and I honestly have a hard time wrapping my brain around a lot of it. It’s too much for me, feels above my pay grade. Let’s assume we agree that God is real. Think about what was before God—nothingness, blackness, but even nothingness is something. What or who created God? How could he just be? It makes my mind want to explode. I don’t get it, I don’t get it!
But some things do makes sense. Things like loving and being loved so big it aches, manifested in baby yawns and newly knitted skin and diapered bums and being kissed for the very first time. When I see and hear and smell the rain, that makes sense. And from there I think about the clouds from which it comes, and then the stars and planets and galaxies and worlds above the clouds, and I see all that as a kind of proof. It seems too amazing and extraordinary and big to be anonymous. I think that there must have been some thought and soul and love behind it—a living and breathing and real being behind the science, science which is very real. Why does it have to be God or science? Can’t we have both?
There is a scene in Good Will Hunting, one of my very favorite movies, where Will is describing to his girlfriend how he just “gets” organic chemistry and other hard, complicated academic pursuits. He compares it to how Beethoven simply looked at a piano and he could just play. And then he says, “when it came to school, I could always just play.” I’m not Beethoven and I’m certainly no genius, but I can’t explain it any other way than: when I see the fog hug the earth or watch my babies sleep or smell the mulchy air of spring, it just plays. Creation itself compels me to believe that there has to be purpose in being here, in you and me—because we were created. If we were not created, if we were simply accidents, then what is the point? What are we here for?
I might be simple minded, I might be wrong. That was an idea I had never even considered before I met my husband. But there is still something pulling from inside of me that’s whispering to me to take the gamble. Despite all the unanswered questions, I believe that you and I and Evelyn and that guy with the monkey were created on purpose.
After all that, I still am not totally sure about what I am meant to do, or even if there is one singular thing I’m purposed to do. Maybe it’s a lot of things, sprinkled over a lifetime. What I do know is that I’m meant to be here, alive, and I’d like to swallow the world, kind of like how George Bailey wanted to lasso the moon. So for right now, right this second, I’ll do what’s right in front of me. The dishes, the diapers. I’ll try to love with my actions instead of fight with my words. I’ll try to listen. I’ll keep wrestling with these ideas and questions about God and purpose and talking snakes. I’ll try to be kind, to myself and my kids and to you and my husband, even when he’s stumping me with questions about why dinosaurs aren’t in the bible and who did Cain marry and make babies with if his parents were the only other humans on earth? And I’ll spill my heart out, even if I’m wrong. It’s as good a place as any to start with, especially when we began with worms.