“Santa Claus does too exist.”
Not too long ago I wrote about my overwhelming faith as a child that Santa Claus really did exist. Back then, my belief was so strong that I never once questioned it, and I was ready to defend it by causing bodily harm to anyone who tried to tell me otherwise.
What a great feeling that is… having no doubt, no disbelief. Knowing completely that it’s true. Ahhhhh… the comfort and feeling of peace.
That was my faith as a child.
Faith as an adult doesn’t always come quite so easily. Not everything is black and white.
To question is to grow. Each of us is on our own journey, and different experiences teach us different lessons. That’s life and the evolution of a soul.
Pitchforks and Prayers
So for me, faith as an adult never came quite so easily. I wasn’t raised in a religious family. We didn’t go to church on Sunday, or say grace before every meal, but my mom did teach me to pray and so every night before going to sleep I would say my prayers.
“Now I lay me down to sleep…”
By the time I was in elementary school, my parents thought it would be a good time to expose me to religion, so they sent me to Bible School.
My mom tells me that it wasn’t long before I started having nightmares and asking questions about the devil. I terrified kids in the neighborhood with my stories of a fiery creature waiting with pitchforks to poke us and burn us to bits.
I can’t imagine what she must have felt. The anger at what was being taught to her child in this “school” must have been overwhelming.
She never took me back.
The older I got, the more I questioned. Why was I praying? To whom was I praying? How did I know God was listening? How did I even know there was a God?
Hypocrisy and the Logical Mind
By the time I got to high school I was skeptical. It seemed a little far-fetched to me and there was no proof. I was becoming a “logical” person. Math and science were my favorite subjects and I was learning all about “if/then” statements and proving a hypothesis.
Phenomena must have explanations and it was our job to find them.
Ironically, as it so happened, the high school that I went to required attendance at church every Sunday.
I was open-minded and I listened to the sermon every week and usually was able to relate to it. The preacher knew he was preaching to a room full of teenagers, so he was quite good at telling stories that struck a cord with someone my age and what that person might be going through at the time.
I learned the Apostles’ Creed and recited it every Sunday.
“I believe in God, the Father almighty…”
…and I started to feel like a hypocrite. I listened carefully to the words I was saying and wondered if they were true. Did I believe? What was “life everlasting”?
Deep questions that many kids are given answers to long before they really even understand the questions.
Coming at this with an open mind is something for which I will be forever grateful to my parents. Sure I struggled a little to find my way, but most of my friends who were raised going to church every Sunday struggled as well.
The difference was that I struggled freely… without any preconceived notions.
By the time I started going to college I was full of questions.
Again, as it so happened, I chose to go to a Catholic college. Attendance at Mass was not required, but some of my friends would go on occasion so I would tag along. Still questioning.
And so it went.
My “Guide” to Believing
By the time I was thirty, I was still questioning. I hadn’t gotten any further along proving or disproving my hypothesis that there was a God and an after-life. I didn’t lose sleep over it, but I still wanted to believe. I didn’t disbelieve, I just couldn’t take these things on faith because someone told me it was so.
I even had a friend, a highly intelligent woman, once tell me that it would be safest to “hedge my bets” and believe since those who didn’t were doomed. I was really confused by that and to it I replied, “but wouldn’t an omnipotent being know that I was hedging my bets? I didn’t think the goal was to say I believe, but actually to believe.”
Again, as it so happened… I became good friends with Becky, a woman who was raised Catholic but who, as an adult, had pretty much settled on atheism.
I actually felt a little jealous of her ability to weed through all the teachings and come to a conclusion on her own. I hadn’t been able to do that.
What was wrong with me?
Why couldn’t I accept that there just was no proof for the existence of this spiritual world and move on?
I began to call myself an agnostic… “a person who holds that the existence of God is unknown or unknowable.”
But I still wanted to KNOW.
Then one week I went to visit Becky. The guest room in her apartment had just been painted, so to avoid passing out from the fumes I slept in her room in her bed.
I think it must have been in the wee hours of the morning when I awoke and at the foot of the bed I saw a young woman sitting there facing to the right… just sitting there. She had long dark hair and was wearing a white flowing dress that looked like it was from another time.
I immediately made one of those moves like a mother driving a car with a kid in the passenger seat and her arm flies up to brace him for a quick stop.
My left arm flew up to wake my atheist friend and I loudly whispered “Becky!”
…and to that, Becky replied, “I know. I see her.”
To this day, as I write this, I am still amazed. What’s funny is that after that, both Becky and I went back to sleep. I don’t even remember discussing it with her the next morning. But I have asked her about it many, many, many times since… just to confirm that it really did happen.
She reconfirms it every time.
For Becky, it opened her eyes to the possibilities of the paranormal.
For me… it was the proof I had needed.
Seeing this beautiful, non-threatening spirit and having it confirmed by an atheist is pretty much all I needed to believe that beings do exist in a dimension other than our own.
I was then able to take that newly found evidence and make a little leap of faith that God also exists, and I believe the woman at the foot of that bed is my guardian angel. Some call them spirit guides, and I have been fortunate enough to see mine one other time since that night.
So there I was, struggling with my beliefs, and my guide came to help.
I will be forever grateful for that one brief moment in time when “the ghost” helped open my eyes to a whole other world of possibilities.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. I wish you love and peace this holiday season.
Photo Credit – original photo modified in size and to include the Soulful Equine name and URL