I’d have an awful lot of questions if I ever sat down to have a conversation with God, as I’m sure most people would. And I’m not talking about when I die and (hopefully) go to heaven for that whole final judgment thing. I’m thinking more about going out to lunch or dinner with the big man (or woman, whatever you prefer), sitting across the table from him, and firing one question after another at him. I’d want to get everything out during that one sitting because I’m sure God is pretty busy managing the universe and all that. I’d have both overly broad and intricately specific questions I’d want to ask about the world in general and my life in particular. It would be a long meal, for sure. I wonder what he would look like…I’d ask him to come as Johnny Depp.
I don’t generally spout off about my religious beliefs. Religion is too touchy, and often too controversial of a topic to bring up in casual conversation. Everyone has their own beliefs that they subscribe to, which is good and the way it should be. But I just flat out don’t like it when someone tries to force their own beliefs on me, so I don’t do that to anyone else. I try to respect everyone else’s choice in religion, or lack thereof, and to respect that we all see things a little differently. I don’t really subscribe to any particular religion, but if I had to label it, I guess my beliefs would be more Christian than anything else. While religion and faith go hand in hand, I don’t think they’re the same thing. I have more faith than I have religion. I believe in karma. I believe in fate. I believe everything happens for a reason. And I absolutely believe in God. I firmly believe there is someone or something up there managing and shaping things on a daily basis. I firmly believe there is someone or something watching out for me and I’ve had too many weird coincidences in my life to make me think otherwise. The first that comes to mind is the time I flipped my car when I was 20 years old. My Chevy Cavalier was airborne, barrel-rolling at least four or five times down the country road I had been driving on. It was totaled with a capital T. There were no windows left, all four tires were flattened, the hood and rear end were crumpled up messes, and yet there wasn’t a single scratch on the roof. It came to a rest on its wheels and I walked away almost completely unscathed. All I had were some bruises from my seatbelt and some scratches on my hand after my arm flew out of the busted driver’s side window and scraped along the asphalt while my car tumbled down the road. It was an absolute miracle that I wasn’t killed, that the top of my car wasn’t crushed like the rest of it. Someone or something was watching out for me that day. I have absolutely no doubt about that.
I do pray, quite often, and I’ve done that since I was a kid, but it’s not the “Hail Mary” or “Our Father” prayers that I learned in Catholic grade school. Nowadays, my prayers are more about protection for the people I love, guidance so that I can stay on or find the path I’m supposed to take in my life, and help to become a better person every day I’m still living. Sometimes I ask questions, too, but I never seem to get any answers. It’s incredibly frustrating sometimes, which is why I’d like to sit down with God at Panera Bread Co. one day, chat over a nice chicken Caesar salad, and finally get some answers.
I’d have to make a list of the questions I want to ask. That journalism training would certainly come in handy here. Be prepared, know what questions to ask, and be ready for spontaneous follow-up questions based on the answers you get. Sounds easy enough, but I’m not sure I could narrow down my questions to a reasonable amount. I know that some of them would be silly and inconsequential, but I’m still dying to ask. For example, “Why, God, did you give me such small hands? Seriously, sometimes I have to look in the kids’ section to find gloves that will fit me. Things that other people can pick up with one of their normal-sized hands, I have to grasp with both of mine. How is that fair?” I imagine his answer would be something like, “Be grateful, my child, that I did not also give you tiny T-rex arms like Cee Lo Green or that I did not give you giant man hands that are disproportionate to the rest of your body. Be glad, and use your tiny hands for good.”
I think I’d also ask him about gas prices. “Really, God, can’t you do something about these ridiculous gas prices? It’s getting out of hand. Can’t you make someone invent something that makes cars run on air, dirt, or trash, you know, things we have in pretty abundant supply down here?” His answer might be, “I’ve blessed you with a job that is only eight miles from your home. Buy a bicycle, my child.” I have a feeling that God would probably be pretty cryptic in his answers, not really answering the question but still giving you enough information to make you think about the meaning in his words. He’s probably all mystical like that.
I’d want to ask him about big and small picture things, like why there can’t be world peace; why some people go hungry every night while others live in the lap of luxury; why our pets can’t live longer; why food that’s good for you tastes bad and food that’s bad for you tastes great; why we have brown or blonde hair instead of green or blue; why there’s always one checker at the grocery store who has to inspect and comment on everything you purchase, and I always end up in her lane (because it is always a woman); why no one has found a cure for cancer or AIDS yet; why bananas go rotten so fast; why I’m so terrible at math; why politicians are so slimy and crooked; why tulips, which arguably are the most beautiful flowers on earth, only bloom once a year and only last a few days; why someone was allowed to invent country music; and why bad things happen to good people. I’d steer clear of the “What’s the meaning of life” question. It’s a little cliché.