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Questions for God

Questions for God

This year I sent my parents a Valentine’s card with a religious theme about love, which made them happy. My dad half-jokingly said, “Could it be my prayers have finally been answered?”

I stopped going to church long ago because I didn’t agree with a lot of the doctrines of the Catholic church. When I asked questions, I wasn’t satisfied with the answers, and I couldn’t get on board with a God that wants us to accept his rules without understanding why. I mean, why would he have sent us Jesus if he didn’t care whether or not we understood him?

But that’s not to say I gave up on understanding God. Through years of reading, praying, meditating, and talking to others, I feel much better about my relationship with him. But I still have questions. Many of them have to do with mental illness.

Last week the student group I advise, Active Minds, sponsored a presentation by the JCK Foundation, whose mission is to end stigma associated with OCD and other mental disorders. The foundation was created in honor of John Kelly, who suffered from OCD and eventually took his own life at the age of 25.

One of the problems I had with the Catholic Church was the belief that suicide is an unpardonable sin. It’s obvious that John was an amazing person whose compassion and goodness were felt by anyone who knew him. So much so that his friends and family created this foundation in order to do what John did in his every day life–to help other people who are suffering. Is it possible that this one final act could have nullified all of the good that he brought to the world?

John tried so hard to beat OCD. He kept a journal. He took meds. He went to therapy. Did every kind of alternative treatment in existence. Helped other people. But still, the pain was unbearable. I can imagine how someone who was in that much pain could decide that they could not bear a life where there was seemingly no hope of getting better.

I’ve heard many people say that when their loved one was near death, they gave them permission to let go. Isn’t it possible that God would have done the same for John? That he might have said, you’ve done your job on earth; you don’t have to suffer any longer. Wouldn’t that be something that a loving father might say to a son?

Or did God say, don’t give up! There will be a cure someday. You need to persevere! Even if that’s what God said, he forgives us for being fallible. No sin is supposed to be greater than God’s love. So why wouldn’t he forgive this particular sin?

I have been thinking about John Kelly for the past 5 days, even though the presentation wasn’t that good. But I could feel John’s compassion as his friends and family talked about him, and I was moved by how they have chosen to spread compassion as far as they possibly can in honor of him.

I  choose to believe that God is happy about that.

***

After I wrote this post I found this article that says the Catholic Church no longer believes that suicide is an unpardonable sin. That God is the only one who decides who should go to hell. Thank goodness.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

8 responses »

  1. As a Catholic who became closer to God upon departing the church I agree and am moved by your tribute to John. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. I have been a Christian for many years. I taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for twenty-five years. I no longer go to church. I don’t want to get out of bed on Sunday mornings, and I don’t want to hear all the griping and sniping that people do at churches. I still believe in God. I still consider myself a Lutheran. I still take advantage of opportunities to tell people that God loves them. All those rules in the Bible or that are invented were created by people, not Jesus. We are to love the Lord with all our hearts, and do unto others as we do to ourselves. The rest of it is made-up shite.

    Love,
    Janie

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  3. It’s funny, even before I saw someone else’s comment I was going to say that loving God & one another as ourselves are all we need focus on…I’ll bet they had a huge party for John Kelly when he came to heaven:)

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  4. I think if we want to understand God, then we might want to study all the major religious, draw up a venn diagram and find the common ground between all of them. That common ground might just bring us closer to the real meaning of God without the confusion of religious dogma that is interpreted by religious dogma usually defined by a mortal who manages that religion or sect.

    According to David Barrett et al, editors of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. “Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations.”

    I found one venn diagram comparing Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Too bad Buddhism wasn’t there too.

    This was the common ground between the three that were compared using a Venn Diagram.

    One God- God of Abraham

    Special Relationship with God

    History of Ancient Hebrews

    Importance of Prophets

    Religion is Divided into Sects

    Prayer occurs during religious service

    Services held in Holy Building

    Jerusalem is Holy City

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