I recently read the book Burned by Ellen Hopkins. It’s brilliant. The two works I have read by her have been deeply personal and scary. And I’ve loved them. It is in Burned that I found a passage concerning the Big Guy upstairs that I think I could really live by. It’s simply beautiful.
“‘God is love,’ she said. ‘And He respects love, whether it’s between a parent and child, a man and woman, or friends. I don’t think He cares about religion one little bit. Live your life right, Pattyn. Love with all your heart. Don’t hurt others, and help those in need. That’s all you need to know. And don’t worry about Heaven. If it exists, you’ll be welcome'” (Hopkins 363).
This really made sense to me. I don’t go to church as often as a person is “supposed to” go. I have gone to church twice so far this year (which is a lot for me). I drove my grandparents once back in January. I guess I was a little confused about everything at the time and was looking for answers wherever I could. If I could find the program from that one church service, you would see all of the markings and writings I doodled and wrote so that they covered the program in its entirety. I wrote little poems about when my brothers and I were little and would run in and out of the pews, playing hide and seek in the dark. Things have changed so much since then, and the being in that room with the high ceilings was very haunting for me. I didn’t like it.
I slept over at my best friend’s house and in the morning, we trekked off to church. They’re catholic, and that was very different for me. The catholic church in our town has a much more Gothic style to it than the protestant one my family regularly attended, and that really appealed to me. However, the stories told by Father Dan didn’t. Nothing clicked. I still see no way that anyone could ever have written a book like the Bible. I still see no reason to believe that those stories are true. I lean more toward science, I suppose.
What I do believe is up in that passage I quoted, I just had no way of expressing it until now. I don’t serve God and I won’t be doing that any time soon. I believe that God or Buddha or Zeus loves me. I believe that He doesn’t expect anything more than just what I’m doing; I’m living the life He has blessed me with. When I get older, I’ll be able to look back on the life I led as a teenager/young adult and be proud that I lived it. I’ll be sitting in a church pew, hymn book open (because hymns are absolutely beautiful) and the cross my mother gave me when I got confirmed at our little protestant church latched securely around my neck. I’ll listen patiently and carefully, and even fall asleep eventually (like my papa does), but God will love me anyway.
For now, I’m going to live. I’m not going to go to Hell because I don’t attend church regularly. Most people that attend church regularly and live and breathe God’s word are hypocrites anyway. I refuse to be a part of it.
Read “I Think He’d Like Me,” and ye shall see.