All my life, I was told there was one special man God had chosen for me. Someone who would walk with me, guide me, be my friend and lover and soul mate.
And I believed it. Because I lived with it.
My parents, who were passionate lovers of God, had an amazing marriage. Theirs was a marriage of love, of friendship, of partnership, of incredible passion. They enjoyed being with each other. They gave each other space. They were tolerant of each others shortcomings. They treated each other like gold.
I wanted that. And I wasn’t going to settle for anything less.
I won’t address how wrong I now think the “one special person” idea is. Maybe I’ll address that another time. It got me into some trouble and helped me make some really bad decisions. I would have done things a whole lot differently had I not believed that fairy tale.
But the rest of the fairy tale came true. Lucky for me. I met and fell in love with a man who also fell in love with me. My perseverance paid off.
He wasn’t exactly a “dream” match in most people’s opinions, though.
He was older by 16 years.
He was divorced with children.
He had lost everything during the divorce – car, house, money, retirement, job.
He was marginally employed, did not own a car, was living with his brother, and had no savings.
He was not an evangelical, couldn’t say when he’d been “saved” (or if he even believed what that meant), and almost worse was Episcopalian.
He drank. He smoked. He cursed. He danced.
I didn’t care. I loved him. He loved me. We fit each other. We had amazing passion. We had a lot of amazing sex, the premarital kind. It was more awesome than I can explain. Neither of us ever expected to feel this way. It was too powerful to disbelieve.
So we took a chance and hitched up.
It was scary fun. We didn’t have a proverbial pot to piss in. But we had love. We made crazy love every day, sometimes more than once a day. We did that for years.
We both got better jobs. We got better cars. We bought a house.
I had always gone to church, so I made it a requirement. We joined a church, got involved. We moved towns, found another church – a more modern charismatic version – and got more involved. I started to leave my breezy artistic ways behind for more serious dogma, more traditional ideas. I started to become a lot more intolerant and pretty intolerable. In my humble opinion, I was a religious tight-ass.
We wanted to have a baby, but that turned out to be more difficult than we expected.
We buckled down with fertility treatments. That started to suck the life out of our sexual relationship. I became tangled up in calendars.
We got pregnant and had a baby girl. It was a huge blessing. (She still is.) But now I was a mom. That meant I had to become even more serious, even more intent. Even more intolerable.
I dealt with depression. I became more uptight. I refused sex more often. I felt God breathing down my neck, requiring more and more of me. I had this little person to raise up right so she didn’t go to hell. That’s some serious pressure.
I became uber critical of my husband. We fought. We went for days, sometimes weeks, without sex. I didn’t like myself very much. And our marriage? It was going from passionate to indifferent.
Only, my husband never gave up on me. On us.
One day I woke up feeling old and uptight and afraid. I was getting too damn old too fast. I was in my mid-40s and felt ancient. My lips and my attitude were tighter than a tick. And thanks to my uptight attitude, I was losing the one thing that I had wanted most in all the world and never expected to have: a passionate marriage to a life partner who adored me. Even then.
I started to loosen up. I started to worry less about what people thought of me. I started to play again. I stopped worrying about whether this thought or that toy or those images were going to destine me for hell.
I was living again.
Over the past few years I have felt more and more free with my husband, with our older children, with our daughter. I have let myself be challenged. I have started researching some of the things I was taught and believed as truth, only to find their origin suspicious and their validity strained. To use a Christian term, I felt some old strongholds being released. I felt bands springing away from my heart, from my mind. I felt like I was opening up for the first time in my life.
And now I find myself questioning not just doctrine and tenets, but God himself.
I don’t necessarily think it was a natural progression. If you’d told me a year ago that I would be questioning not only Christianity and the grace of salvation in Jesus, but the very existence of God, I would have laughed and said you were nuts!
But here I am. And you know what?
Every day that I question the love of a mysterious God who is supposed to be the source of love, I find I love everything real even more.
Now that I don’t have to stand in judgment of my step children and worry about their eternal destination, I can openly love them just as they are, just where they are.
Instead of worrying about my daughter’s lack of interest in confirmation classes and her questions about some of the things she reads, I can relish being with her, admire her critical thinking skills, enjoy our relationship, and love her unconditionally.
And my husband? I used to get wrapped around the axle when it came to our sex life. After my hysterectomy years ago, I was told my libido and ability to self lubricate would wane. It did. It took more and more stimulation to get me to the point where I would even want to have sex. But, I would think, these things are wrong! How could I justify using sinful things like sexy images and sex toys and sexual fantasies to have sacred sex with my lawful husband? The end – a happy husband, a thriving marriage, a renewed sense of vitality and passion – did the justification for me.
Once I let go of the puritanical attitudes, I felt even more open. Our relationship thrived even more. Over the past few months, i have felt myself fall even more deeply in love with him! No longer do I feel like I need to judge him or myself, or like he – or anyone else – is standing in judgment of me.
Now that I am free to love him fully and openly and creatively without worrying about “sin”, we have hit an all-time high. He is happy. I am happy. We are at peace.
We are free.
I still don’t know what I believe about god. There are a lot of crappy things that I have always made excuses for (like most of the Old Testament) that are adding weight to the disbelief camp. The only good thing that really remains is the idea that God loves me, loves us, loves the world. That God IS love.
But if love exists whether or not there is a supreme being…. well, what then?
This new freedom is making me feel free to love everyone more: myself, my husband, my children, my friends, my family, people all across the world I’ve never met and who don’t know Christ from Krishna. A love that doesn’t require me to exclude anyone or kill anyone or torture anyone or tell anyone “sorry, but you’re going to hell for that.”
I used to mock the idea of “free love” – you know, hippy-dippy, John Lennon, blah blah – as being wrong headed, ignorant, blind.
But right now, it feels pretty right to me.