In search of heaven, in God we trust, or the Gods must be crazy?
by Carolyn Wyler
I am an immoral, uncaring, hate-filled, liar and mass murderer who will be going straight to hell when I die.
Yes, all that is entirely true, every single word — well except for the immoral, uncaring, hate-filled, liar/mass murderer part. The going to hell part is also questionable, though I have been told to go there and there are many people who firmly believe that upon my demise, hell will be my reward.
Fortunately, I don’t believe it is possible to go somewhere that doesn’t physically exist and I certainly don’t believe in the literal-biblical sense of the word “hell.”
Believers should be relieved that I also don’t believe in a biblical heaven either. Their heaven will be safe from the likes of me.
Just because I don’t profess a belief in God however, doesn’t make me an evil, horrible person. I don’t steal and I don’t kill (though this doesn’t stop me from coveting my neighbor’s Porsche or focusing intently on another person while squinting, trying intently to make his or her head explode with my mind).
For the most part I care deeply about other people and have spent most of my life worrying, caring, giving and trying to make other people comfortable and happy. This is my job as a mother, nurse, friend and wife. It is what’s expected of me by others, but more importantly, what I have come to expect out of myself.
I can’t say that I have always been successful at caring though. I am not perfect and have made some tremendously stupid mistakes. I have also discovered it is impossible to make everyone happy.
Caring about people and caring about what they think I have discovered, are two completely different things. I am a people pleaser. To some that will sound impressive, to others a flaw in my character, but for me, it is simply the potential ingredients for anxiety and unhappiness. That is unless I, (as I have recently learned to do) take ‘time outs’ from others to explore my own wants and needs. Some may think this makes me a selfish person and more indicative of my evil-Godless ways, but I feel it makes me stronger and healthier. And ironically with a little more to offer others.
Many people spend years searching, studying, becoming, doing, accepting, and then ultimately dying in order to “reach” a life of love, peace, tranquility, happiness and lots of bleach: their vision of a Heaven and living eternally with God. And I totally get it. Though I don’t believe in a biblical heaven, it doesn’t stop me from wanting a life of love, peace, tranquility and happily ever after. However, I am a very impatient person who loves living in the moment and don’t want to wait until I die to get it. I want it and I want it now.
If I could have it, my heaven would contain a beautiful golden castle with rooms full of all forms of art, music and entertainment. There would be doors that open up into other countries as well as rooms that enter warm oceans. It would have circus trapezes, trampolines, hidden passageways and shirtless tan buff men with six-pack abs who speak in Australian and English accents. A river of chocolate would run outside as well as drain to a faucet inside the castle.
Most of my family and friends would live in homes close by. Others — you know who you are — would live in a much hotter area in the lower part of the world. I wouldn’t leave you completely hanging though; I would regularly grab my barbecue equipment and run down to visit, as you guys would be throwing the best parties.
Unfortunately that heaven only exists in my mind and as I mentioned I don’t believe in the God-and-Angels-singing-Hallelujah-all-day-long type of heaven.
My heart aches as I watch many struggle through life. Some turn to drugs and others to God where many find solace to get them through life’s good and not so good times. Unfortunately, some get “too much of a good thing” and thus addicts/extremists are “born.”
There are those promised 70+ virgins in their next life if they sacrifice themselves killing others.
There is a young 14-year old girl who is shot in the head by religious fanatics because she spoke up and believes everyone, even women, deserve an education.
In Nigeria, parliament is attempting to pass a bill to throw gay people in jail because gay people are “of the devil.”
There is someone who I care about, who walked away from family, home and a beautiful wife of more than 30 years and now waits to be changed to immortal status in order to reach his ultimate happiness and goal, a seat beside God.
In the Old Testament God commanded, “thou shalt not kill” yet ordered many people killed.
And then I am reminded: “in God we trust.” Pardon me if I’m a bit leery in trusting God, and find it difficult at times to see the line between believing in God and questioning God’s sanity. It is when those who follow their “God” without question and without considering the consequences of their actions on others, that I actually fear God and what he (actually people believing in him) can be made to do.
I am not advocating the removal of “In God we trust” or “One nation under God” from money or the Pledge of Allegiance. I suspect, for the most part, the intentions of those who believe in God are good, as are mine. And though we may disagree on the semantics or what needs to be done to reach it, everyone is pretty much after the same thing: a heavenly life of love, peace, happiness and tranquility.
For me though, I believe I am living in it now. It is not a heaven to “die” for and it admittedly has a little less bling than my imaginary one. I live in a comfortable suburban home with my best friend and love of my life who, if I asked him to, would gladly bring me a cup of hot chocolate while flexing his six pack(s) and speaking to me in his best attempt at an English or Australian accent. I am fortunate to have a large quirky family and friends whom I love. I have the means to travel and do many of the things I enjoy doing in life. I have found love, peace and tranquility.
I have found my heaven.