As usual when I tread on touchy territory I am going to say, this is just MY opinion. I am alive so I have one and it’s my blog and my outlet to express myself. I’m not looking to fight or prove a point so if you start reading this and you realize it is about religion and you can’t handle that, then stop reading. Some people knit or draw or eat or go on Facebook for an incredible amount of time to give them selves an outlet for relaxation and expression ….me? I write. There…said it. Done.
I don’t usually lose my head and discuss or write about politics or religion, but I haven’t had much sanity since Christmas Eve 2013 when our autistic son lost it and set the tone for what was the worst year of our lives. Worse than the country song that was my life in 2008 when some of our investments stood on shaky ground, we lost our dog, I lost my dad and I ended it with a fractured arm and dislocated elbow. You see, 2014 was ruled by almighty autism and it’s effect on my pubescent son. Knowing it was going to be a hard one, I posted on my Facebook status “Ok 2014, I’m ready for your ass so bring it,” and it was brought alright but I fought back and so did my husband, our 12 year old and his autistic brother.
I didn’t always fight back like a good and decent God-faring, Catholic girl. I believe in God and I believe I am a spiritual person and I love the ritual of the Catholic mass but I have never pretended to have blind faith and I certainly don’t believe in asking God for things and having them appear in my life as if by magic. I believe faith has kept me strong, given me courage and helped me get back on my feet whenever I was knocked down but it’s not the sole ingredient that has made me the tough, fighter that I am. I once was told by the priest in Calgary who baptized our younger son, that a relationship with God is just that – a relationship in all senses of the word and it is absolutely fine to live it as one would any relationship. My relationship with God is no different from that an old married woman has with her husband. She loves and respects him dearly but will not think twice to speak her mind to him, yell at him or get frustrated and angry at him. Over the past 13 years of living with our son’s autism I have gotten angry at God and I have loudly vented my feelings to Him when I have been alone but I still believe in Him. I believe because there has to be something greater than we hopelessly flawed humans. I would also rather believe in God and raise my eyes and hands to the heavens than turn up my palm to another mortal who pretends to see the future so long as I can pay for their reading. (Funny … I’ve noticed while watching friends who have these readings, psychics always say “God bless” to their customers when they bid them farewell but I digress. Sorry.)
What I have come to realize during this difficult year is that it is so easy for people to ask “Why me God?” or from those who do not believe questions like “If there is a God, why would he let such awful things happen?” And while on the roller coaster ride of 2014, I too asked “Why?”. “Why our family?” “Why my son?” and questions of the like that only accomplished two things – (a) It clouded all the good parts of this year and all the wonderful things my son has achieved and is on his way to achieving and (b) what was worse, it made me angry and anger is such an exhausting, lingering and unproductive emotion.
It was just this evening almost at the end of this ridiculous year, that things became clear. I was riding for 2 hours in the car with my son who decided to let the kitchen faucet be his source of irritation. I uttered a simple prayer as I usually do in such times that went something like “Please let him calm down so he can settle tonight,” and after a little time he absolutely did. So let’s just say we can attribute that to God. My son was calm and happily chatting with me and we were on our way to get something to eat. As I got to the restaurant, I ordered something I usually order for him and on this night they would only serve the dish I wanted with some special coupon they mailed out. I didn’t have a coupon and I thought “Awesome , he’s calm finally and now this!” Once again I just couldn’t catch a simple break. I explained the kind of night I was having and insisted they extend me one kind gesture to help me end my night and my year and make my order. After two requests they complied but they were a little backed up in the kitchen and I had to wait with a kid who just got his shit together. At this point I thought, “This isn’t God being wicked. I’m still gonna give him the points for my son becoming calm as I prayed he would. This is something else,”
By this time after seeing my face and watching my boy shift his weight from foot to foot to keep himself in the calm zone, the waitress offered to bring my food out to the car. There it was, human kindness borne out of love. I gave that one to God too. Things were getting better. My son was chatting happily to me and I was on my way home with him with food for my family to end what was a long day after a trip out of town. My husband decided to set us up with a movie in my son’s room so that he would not be disturbed by him and our 12 year old as they took in the hockey game on TV. Brilliant! Everyone working together to create a peaceful night. Wouldn’t you know the frigging TV in my son’s room suddenly had no audio? “Why God?” No, still not Him. As my husband tried to fix it, my son was eating calmly and his younger brother decided to give up the game in the “man cave” downstairs and let us use it for our movie. Selflessness of a 12-year-old borne out of love for his family. I’m giving that one to God, too. What I learned tonight is that God was with me for sure in every one of those positives and even though it seemed that the negatives that punctuated my night were some sick joke played by God, it was a sick joke played by Satan.
I think in religion, some of us forget sometimes that there is both good and evil. Sometimes we might pray to God and wait for our blessings and when we don’t get them or when we do get them and just as quickly things go wrong, we fly in the proverbial face of God and wonder “why?” It’s quite common and very human and very understandable to ask “why” or feel cheated or neglected but what I was able to see tonight and come back to time and again, were the good things that were happening and no matter how much Satan or evil or whatever you want to call it tried to challenge the good and test my faith, there was no victory.
My son worked hard to keep his feelings in check and I know in the teen years (then add in autism) that is difficult to do. We sat and enjoyed a movie together and my husband and son were able to see a great deal of the game. Tonight was one of those moments when I realize just how much love there is under this roof of ours. That it is only love that will drive us to get our autistic son to that realm of peace that has eluded him this year and that there is good in the world and for me there is God and there is a Devil. I don’t picture them as people or figures because I feel there is not so much a man dressed in white flowing robes and another with a pitch fork and a tail. I see them both as forces that play off each other in our lives and at some point we decide to see what is an “act” of God and what is an “act” of evil. Tonight on the eve of a new year, I took the time to see the difference. Perhaps I’m a slow learner when it comes to religion and faith but I did it and I am thankful for all the good over the past 6 days our family spent together after being so fragmented all year as we tried to find the best ways to help our son and I look forward to the days to come.
If you’ve been having a rough go of things or you feel like you are wandering around in a haze of what used to be your strong faith, consider this – Maybe it wasn’t God who messed up your day, your month or your year. As “3 Canal”says in their lyrics, maybe it’s the one with “the fork and the tail”.
*3 Canal are recording artists from Trinidad and Tobago whose genre of music is called Rapso which combines traditional calypso and the rhythm and musical styling of Soca. Canal’s work reflects a deep social awareness differentiating them from other “party or fete atmosphere” artists.