Something that I think is relevant to say upfront here is that I believe that God wants a relationship with us. As I discussed last week, that was the part I had right. The more I become a Christian, the more this plays out to be truer and truer.
So why hadn’t any of the Christians I’d known – the ones who raised me, the ones in my church, the teachers, the friends – why hadn’t any of them ever said that?
The sad fact is that I learned that God is real and God wants a relationship with me on a Sufi path. It was called the Path to Perfection, and we believed in that chasm that separated us from God, but only we could save ourselves, by delving in deeper and deeper into our sins and imperfections, and eliminating them, one by one.
I learned things that shocked me, like that pride is the real root of shyness usually. I ran up against my own sin of pride time and time again. It was like a tall brick wall, that no one could take down except me, and only then one brick at a time. It was insurmountable, it fluctuated, and every time I thought I’d licked it, I realized I’d only built another section. I was turning over my own ugly rocks and cleaning them out from the bottom, in a chance to get closer to a God who loved me.
While I do not believe that particular path anymore, I did learn a lot of spiritual truths there. I learned to look to myself, not others, as the cause of the problems in my life. I learned that God loved me, and wanted to know me better – and wanted me to be better, but, like all good and Godly things, the world started to pull me away. I would attend classes and be excited to participate in my groups, and practice my spiritual exercises, and then I’d fall away, too lazy to take a train into Manhattan for God.
A lot happened in those years when I was falling on and off the Path. I made a lifelong commitment by marrying Chris and stared down death after my stroke. I changed my career from a life that made me miserable to one that could have contentment. I took the train to the Upper East Side, not long after my stroke, recommitted to attend the meetings, and then stopped again at some point. I started – stopped – started – stopped – all the while, amazed just to look down at my feet or my reflection in the mirror and notice I was Still here! Still alive!
God still had a purpose for me, but I was clueless what it was. I had learned about perseverance, about staying true to myself, and about trusting God when the shitake mushrooms* hit the fan. I know that every Christian who knew me, and quite a number who didn’t, prayed for me when I got sick and I firmly believe that is what got me out of the worst of my stroke with no side effects at all. A lot of crap has happened since then, a lot of shoes have dropped, but whether it’s an IEP that leaves me in tears, or a hole in my daughter’s heart, or just the fact that I have no idea what the future will hold for my girls and who will care for them once I’m gone, I honestly know that prayer WILL get me through.
One fall, I registered again for school, and took another stab at those Path sessions, run by a lovely family from the Middle East. One Monday night, I sat in my room, pondering my life, my future, and wondering who I’d vote for in the next day’s election.
I awoke on a bright, clear, Tuesday morning only to find that the Twin Towers were about to fall…
*We watch an awful lot of Spy Kids movies in this house.