My daughter got a postcard in the mail today announcing the beginning of Sunday School in September and this year’s theme. We do not attend church, and I was not expecting it.
“Good God, it’s Christ the Righteous!” is what I said.
We are not religious people. I grew up Jewish, my husband, Catholic. I have never cared to be observant–I have been ashamed, annoyed, awed, inspired, and baffled by religious people of different faiths. I have rarely been envious of them. But I have praised a personal God most of my adult life.
Before I was pregnant with Molly, I loved daydreaming of what I would tell our child about God. My faith was strong. My relationship with God still is. But it is different. Much of my heart changed when I became a parent–and my faith changed in a way I didn’t anticipate. It is impossible for me to stay in the same place with God as I witness a world in which children are casualties of war; where natural disasters strike schoolhouses; and lately, I am without words for the discrimination being celebrated in the name of Jesus Christ.
I no longer have answers for the questions my almost-five-year-old daughter has or may come up with. For the first time in many years, I do not know what–and if–I want my children to believe. This does not feel awful–or even bad–as I had imagined people without faith must feel. It feels temporary, but right. It feels like the cool nighttime after a cloudless day.
I began writing this post in the midst of a big blogging conference last week. I was angrier than I am now about national events and filled with nerves about the conference. I am not a writer who does well with anger or intense anxiety, and I am glad I waited–and deleted.
I was truly nervous about attending BlogHer because it was my first. I could say that, like any virgin, I didn’t know what to expect–but I did. I expected to feel self-conscious and awkward.
One thing that helps with anxiety is shopping. One thing that helped with conference anxiety was a pair of gold ballet flats with a tiny adorable heel. They were expensive and will probably not see much of New York City streets this fall. But like all things golden, and many a pair of shoes in the movies–they promised good, magical things.
I still felt out of place among almost 5,000 bloggers. I swear–it seemed they all knew each other. And I didn’t know which sessions to pick or where the rooms were or which way the doors opened. I had to steady myself and take a deep breath many times to stay ahead of the panic.
I didn’t meet as many of the writers I admire or follow or even know on social media as I had hoped or would have liked. I don’t have many pictures with people. I walked around by myself most of the time, and there were awkward and odd moments when I felt like all eyes were on me.
I sat in one session without a familiar face anywhere, having very much to pee, noticing about 40 minutes in that there was no clear path to the door–no way to leave the packed room without walking through a tight aisle and over 30 people’s feet. So after a few false starts and having gone over my escape route in my mind, I picked up my many bags from the expo hall visits and whispered “excuse me,” “I’m sorry,” “oops” all the way to the door–when I realized I’d left my purse under my chair. Sigh.
Each day I was close to giving in to my fear, but my need to see things through forced me to go–that and that my alternative was staying home with my children. And I am grateful for the courage.
I was reminded how much I adore the community of bloggers I am fortunate to be a part of in this city, and how quickly and easily and miraculously I felt like myself among a sea of beautiful, smart people. There are moments of quality conversation with understanding friends that I would have never had otherwise. There are a few funny, warm and new friends I can’t wait to know better.
And as the summer nights become shorter, as we sign up for autumn swimming classes and look into ballet schedules and check our list of necessary supplies, I continue to wade through my insecurities, all my best intentions, my unsteady faith–with hope and a burning need to soon, again, bring out my golden shoes.