Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My first religious post in a looooong time...

One of the reasons for starting this blog is so that I can feel comfortable posting about religion. Many of the people I know from LiveJournal are not comfortable with religion, especially Christianity, and while I greatly respect their views I feel uncomfortable sharing my own thoughts.

I am a Christian, of that I'm certain. I'm also a liberal. I'm pro-choice but anti-abortion, I'm a bit of a conservative in some areas, way too liberal in others, and like to think I'm a moderate just left of center but know that this is likely not true. I believe in Christ, I believe in the Bible though I do not think it's infallible. I believe in God, my Lord do I believe in God, though I think I view God differently than many other's who believe in God.

I'm even a bit peculiar about how I came to have such a great faith. Ever played The Sims? I have. Total addict. I control little people, help shape them, help form their very lives, lead them along and they still don't always listen to me. I provide them with a bathroom and they still scream at me for not leading them there so they could pee in the toilet and not on the floor. I provide a fridge and they still starve to death. I put them in seemingly loving households where there's no reason for dissagreement and their relationships drop into the negatives because someone in a bad mood pushed someone else. It's all so relatable to God and his relationship with us, though I'd like to think those times when I get bored with the extra people and just kill them all and laugh have absolutely nothing to do with natural disasters.

So, in short, I'm a liberal, progressive, somewhat nutty and non-traditional Christian who finds it hard to fit in religiously with those who share my interests, and finds it hard to share common interests with those who share my religion, although my UCC church is fantastic and as I've grown as a person I'm finding more in common with my churchy brethren.

On to the point finally, ie Time To Get Religious:

I've been thinking about St. Joseph an awful lot lately. It all started with us trying to sell our old townhouse, a great little house that people could buy for really cheap that would make most people pretty dang happy. I feel bad for it, it's a lonely little house and it's done no wrong, yet here it sits empty and alone, constantly trodden with new people to reject it. It was a safe house, a warm house with good vibes that made us feel comfy and at home. I love this house.

While trying to sell this house we've had a lot of issues, but now everything's repaired or repainted and it looks beautiful, all gussied up and just waiting, waiting, hoping for it's new family to shield from the elements and keep safe and warm. After several months of two mortgages, I began to pray, for us, for our son and the child we cannot yet adopt until the house sells, for the house, for the new family of the house to find it. I know God's pretty dang busy like all the time, and there are far, far more important things in the world, but... in times of strife, any strife, isn't it wonderful to know you have a friend? A confidant? Someone who'll always listen? Someone who's never failed to send me little thoughts or signs? Isn't it nice to know every time I pray or start crying a new showing happens? I prayed for a sale, of course, but mostly I've been praying for hope. Please keep our hope alive, oh God, and please remind me that this will end when it needs to end and it's all planned already.

Through the prayer I remembered my Catholic routes. I'm not Catholic, never was, but my parents were both raised to be. My mother was French Catholic, father was Irish Catholic, very different according to them. I wouldn't know. What I do know is that my father's family always had little statuettes of the saints about, especially in cars or homes. They were cute, I thought, and I didn't see a real reason to NOT turn to the saints to help us in a time of need (not great need, no, but need nonetheless).

So I looked it up and discovered St. Joseph. Now, Joseph isn't a guy I'd given much thought to previously. Why would I? And yet, here he was, blessing houses around the country and helping them to sell. I asked my mother about it and she ordered one for me online. As soon as it arrived I read the instructions and drove over to my old house. My son fell asleep in the car, and as the neighborhood was silent and empty at that time of day I let him stay there for a nap while I did this.

The first step wasn't to bury him and hope, it was to pray. And pray I did. I didn't intend to cry.

It had never occured to me until I prayed, not until I'd thought about it, what Joseph meant to me. Here I am trying to sell a house so that we can adopt our second child, and here's Joseph, the most well known of all adoptive parents. According to the Bible, which I don't always believe yet love anyway, Mary the Virgin conceived Jesus immaculately. Joseph chose not to turn her away and married her anyway, after a dream telling him that she had not cheated on him and was in fact carrying the son of God. It had never occured to me previously how much in common we had. He was raising another's child, a child that did not have biological ties. He could've turned away, could've chosen to raise only children he himself had brought into this world. But he didn't. He CHOSE to accept this unborn child, CHOSE to love a child not his in flesh in blood. He didn't care about the thoughts of society, the child, in his eyes, was his. He loved Mary, and he loved her son, now HIS son. He gave him his last name, raised him, taught him his trade. He fed and clothed him, disciplined him, loved him and cared for him. And in many ways his story is one of the greatest fears of all adoptive parents, that they should be forgotten in adulthood in favor of the "natural" parent. Jesus is forever remembered as the son of God, not the son of Joseph. He was just Mary's husband. Just Jesus' stepfather. Just another man. That's all I used to see him as and now I realize his story is so, so much more.

So I cried as I prayed, suddenly realizing the similarities and feeling so guilty. Then I buried the statue. Well, I ended up kinda wedging him into the ground with my foot. I just pray St. Joseph has a sense of humor...

It was brought to me again this Sunday at church as our minister spoke of St. Joseph. How Joseph is the one who received the annunciation in the book of Matthew. How the society of that time would've called for Mary to have been stoned to death at her father's door, and how Joseph would've had full support had he chosen this route. Heck, that stoning rule is even in the Bible. Joseph betrayed his land's law to save the woman who he felt had betrayed him, and yet after his dream he chose to go even further and keep Mary as his betrothed, finish the dowry and marry her. Furthermore he chose to raise this child. As my minister put it, Joseph must have really loved Mary.

Perhaps it's popular culture or a liberal mindframe, but I sometimes have trouble associating any part of Christianity with love, despite the fact that Jesus' greatest wish was that we all love each other as we wish to be loved. For some reason, picturing Joseph at that time in that life with that dilemma, picturing his world and his thoughts, and realizing that he chose love... I don't know, it's almost overwhelming.

We chose love when we jumped through hoops and travelled across the ocean to bring home our son, and while some people might see it as an act of charity and others as an act of selfishness, in truth it was our love for our child who we did not yet know, who we had no biological relation to, who was so different from us and who we knew might someday reject us in favor of his homeland and his first family.

But we have support. We have peers. We have a family who agrees with us and upholds our decision and friends who do the same. Our family is not so abnormal.

But what must it have been like for Joseph? What of rumors? All societies have their gossips and people didn't seem to believe Jesus was a chosen one until he was far older than an infant. And here's this honorable, law abiding citizen who chose to balk at the rumors and take them in stride and love this woman and accept her child as his own son.

More and more I respect the man. Many men wouldn't even consider such a thing, not even for the son of God. Heck, especially for the son of God. Who on earth wants to compete with God as a father figure? And yet, according to the Bible, he did it. And for that I respect him and love him and feel for him. I can only imagine his life, only imagine what it was like when Mary birthed Joseph a child and he worried over caring for them the same, only imagine what it was like the first time he lost his temper. I can see him gazing down at this tiny child, knowing innately what he will become (not the full scope of course, but still knowing he'll be a great man) and knowing that one day he won't be the father Jesus calls out to. I can imagine the heartbreak and the love and the care and it just...

Yeah, it makes me cry. I'm a bit of a cryer now.

I suppose this is where I should leave off as I'm getting rather rambly. Suffice it to say, I'm believing in the Saints more now. Perhaps it comes with not seeing them as huge, Godlike figures, but seeing them as they were, men and women of their time periods doing something extraordinary.

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