I was grilled the other day.
Someone’s mom (I am not saying who) wanted to make sure I was okay to be hanging around with her offspring. (Oh, did I just say who? Whoopsie!) And I applaud her for her caring, her concern and her involvement.
When I got to her home, she had some no holds barred questions at the ready. God bless her, there were questions about a variety of topics, including those one simply doesn’t bring up in polite society. As it turns out, she doesn’t give a fuck about polite society when it comes to her goals for her family. Like I said, God bless her.
So she asked me a few questions, including a couple about religion and my belief in the afterlife. Knowing she has a pretty well defined belief structure herself, I was a little concerned about outlining my cafeteria plan collection of a variety of tenets and ideas, cobbled into a series of conflicting ideas that form the basis of what guides my life. I have sometimes described my Higher Power as a Being I am convinced does not enter into the day to day operations of my life, yet my whole theology is based on the absolute certainty that He absolutely does exactly that. How do I reconcile those conflicting tenets of a belief structure? By reminding myself that any God which I could fully understand would have to be a pretty low-rent deity. In short, if I fully understand God, I don’t need to have faith. And if I have faith, I don’t need to fully understand God. So it is perfectly acceptable for me to have practice a spirituality based on the concept of Hell, I Don’t Know.
Well, it may be okay for me to not know, but it wasn’t a good enough answer for her. And I am sure that, to a woman unconcerned enough with decorum to grill her daughter’s new suitor about his religious beliefs, it came across as pretty mamby-pamby stuff. So she called me out on it, and told me I must have some idea. And again, God bless her for her willingness to be direct in her quest for information about me.
So I told her that I indeed have a more formal approach to this whole set of ideas described above as Hell, I Don’t Know. And it goes like this: I don’t come to God with a shopping list of Things I Want. Instead, I ask His guidance on a daily basis, then do my best to follow the path He lays out before me. Not formal prayer or worship. Just me, humbly asking for and receiving guidance. And that I have been doing that for a number of years, a plan which seems to work pretty well, based on results.
Well, either she decided my explanation of a faith-based life was acceptable to her or she decided she wasn’t going to get a straight answer out of me. Either way, she gave up asking. She asked a few more questions, then let me off the hook. Overall, I feel like I passed the test. I felt pleased and proud, but even more I felt honored to once again receive confirmation that a “Take No Shit” position has respect for a “Give No Shit” position, even when they don’t see eye to eye.
Well, I have been discussing this whole “asking for guidance and then looking for the signs” approach for a while with Jen, and we discussed it a bit more today. See, I have never seen a burning bush. The skies have never parted before me, revealing a Bearded Old White Man who tells me to sell all my possessions and go live among the poor. And a winged Alan Rickman does not appear in my bedroom to tell me of prophets. So how do I differentiate between The Path He Wants Me To Follow and The Path To The Things I Already Know I Like?
While discussing this, a name popped up which I think pretty aptly describes what happens. That name is God’s Breadcrumbs™. See, God knows what I like, and so He will sprinkle little bits of that on the ground. And as I Hoover my way through life, sucking up that trail of breadcrumbs sprinkles on the ground for me, I rarely even notice that I am actually walking a difficult trail, for the trail is filled with the little distractions I find so appealing. I don’t even notice I am doing His bidding, for all I really see are the benefits of following that path.
God knows I am a simple creature. He knows that shiny things and pretty music will distract me from even the most distasteful chores, and so He uses those things to get me to do what He wants done. But, truth be told, the things He wants me to do on His behalf are rarely distasteful, or even difficult. It is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, following the path of things He knows I like.
Is that a theology? I doubt that it is. But it IS what I try to do. And when I do, it always brings me more joy and less frustration than chasing What I Think I Deserve. And that seems like one of those breadcrumbs.