Sunday, August 25, 2013

I Broke a Promise to God and I Hope He is Not Still Mad

When I was young, my relationship to god/praying was very much the "standard catholic child":

I said the "Our Father". And sometimes the "Hail Mary"- which I messed up the order of all the time. And sometimes "Glory Be". But most importantly I made a list of things I wanted and then I prayed/begged for them. Then I would pray to bless certain family members and friends if I had time and remembered.


I imagined god as a the standard bearded man who sat in the sky. Though sometimes he just had a huge face and no body.

(I have never prayed directly to Jesus. That has always felt weird to me.)

Also, when I was in catholic kindergarten, I always had flash images of a naked Jesus doing weird dances. And it stressed me out SO much because I knew that Jesus and God both were sitting in the sky, KNOWING what I was seeing in my brain. And I couldn't stop it. The more I tried to get my brain to not picture naked dancing Jesus, the more I pictured it. I couldn't even pray about it because then it would really bring it to their attention. Ohhhhh, the stress of a 6 year old.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time praying for really stupid things. I spend a lot of time in middle school praying to be prettier. I spent a lot of time in high school praying to be skinnier. And I spent a good amount of time praying for a new design and furniture for my room when my mom said no. Weirdly enough, that one worked.

I also spent a lot of time when I was 11 secretly praying for a dog with my brother in his room because my mom had said absoLUTELY no. So praying was our only option. And again- it worked- we got a dog. But then my mom gave it away and got another smaller dog. And then she gave that one away too.

In retrospect, we clearly should have prayed to keep the dog.

But, the most dramatic prayer was when I was a junior in High School. I was auditioning for the understudy of Maria in West Side Story at a big professional theater downtown. Besides the fact that my mom dyed my hair pitch black so I'd "look more hispanic" (the kind of black hair that looks blue in the light), covered me in bronzer which rubbed off all over the white sweater I was wearing over my outfit, which was carefully picked by my mom so I looked as young and innocent and non-curvy as possible. And besides the hour I spent before the audition trying to cover my bad skin with concealer that matched the bronzer, and the horrible panic I felt as I saw it systematically rub off all over my white sweater, and the intense stress I had over a headcold and how it was affecting my voice--- besides all off that- the audition went well. Surprisingly though, because I must have looked like an absurd, shaking, orange MESS.

So in the days following as I waited and hoped for a call from the theater, I made a hard and fast bargain with god. I said: God, I want this so much. If I get this part, I will give up diet coke until the end of the 3 month run of the show.

This was a huge sacrifice for me at the time, but something I felt I could also benefit from.

I gave up diet coke right away as a kickstart. Then I got the part. And good on my word, I kept away from the diet coke. Then about 2 months in, I got a little antsy. Does God reaaally care if I have some diet coke? Also, is god even real?

And then I caved. I had diet coke, like THREE TIMES. I got lazy, I got cocky, I felt like I was invincible. And I convinced myself that it was no big deal, and that even if God was real, he had bigger fish to fry than little old orange me going back on my word by slowly poisoning myself with chemically sweetened cola.

My point is not that praying works, or doesn't work, or that god is or isn't a bearded man in the sky. Or that what I did was stupid or brilliant or hilarious. No, I am just saying that I made a promise to a God I believed in, and broke the promise when I thought I was too cool. I guess I'm a great person or something.