The first part of the above video is Zane, merely carrying out his daily ritual of jumping into my lap. The second part is Arran, enjoying a belly rub and groaning lustily. A few hours after I shot this video, these two sweet, lovable dogs got into a big fight. But in this short little film, I can see the simple joy these dogs have in simply living.
This morning, as my husband and I were waking up after a relatively restful sleep, I told him once again how glad I am he's in my life. He's unusually smart, sensitive, caring, and decent and we really get along very well. The first thirty years or so of my life was filled with drama... family fights that would be right at home on Dr. Phil. There were many days when I was very stressed out and upset, mainly because my family had expectations of me that I wasn't prepared to fulfill. I am so grateful that I'm married to a man I don't fight with and the most drama we get around here concerns our dogs and whatever bullshit I stumble across on the Internet.
As we were talking, I was surfing Facebook and my German friend made a disparaging remark about someone in her online psychology class. Apparently, the professor asked how people felt about euthanasia and some Bible Belt yahoo wrote that as a Christian, s/he feels that it should be God's decision when a person dies. My German friend, being a practical sort, basically wrote that she thought that was a stupid answer. I had to agree.
Suddenly, I started realizing that I know someone in real life who seems to have many of the same viewpoints as my old Epinions pal, vicfar. And even more oddly, I've found that I often agree with what my German friend says. There is an embarrassing lack of common sense among many Americans. There are too many of us in this country who use an invisible "sky daddy" to help us make decisions. I didn't think I agreed so much with vicfar, but the older I get, the more I realize that I do. I don't hate America as much as he does, though.
Religion has its place. I know that many people get a lot of comfort and even joy out of being spiritual. But religion can also be very toxic and divisive. It can cause people to hate others. Take, for instance, my husband's ex wife.
She joined the Mormon church in 1997 because she thought they had beautiful families. My husband's ex wife had a shitty upbringing and has always tried to resolve that. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, except when you take shortcuts, you don't always get the results you desire. The ex was more focused on the external than the internal. She thought she just had to go through the legalistic motions and change her appearance to have what all strong families have.
The fact is, the work has to be done on the inside and she hasn't invested the time or the energy in her relationships to make them genuine. Genuine relationships can turn into genuine love and fulfillment... satisfaction. But she fixes the outside instead of the inside, so she doesn't get what she wants and has to change things up. Consequently, her family members tend to be transient and those who don't measure up or meet her expectations are cast aside.
So... my husband and I were lying in bed, talking about what life would have been like had he been given access to his kids. Chances are, there would have been a lot of fighting. The girls are firmly entrenched in Mormonism and apparently think that lifestyle is the only correct way to live. So they would have seen our coffee maker and booze and shamed us for that. They would have passed along information to their mother, who would have found ways to harass us, because she's the type of person who makes herself feel better by tearing other people down.
I honestly don't know what ex's testimony is like these days. Given the fact that she recently gave money to support a film about a gay couple (even after making disparaging remarks about my husband's gay sister), I'm inclined to think that maybe Mormonism is no longer so useful for her. It was yet another tool she used to keep people in line.
But the fact that she and my husband joined Mormonism together had a ripple effect, because it eventually led me to discover the vibrant exMormon community, which is full of bright, attractive, thinking people who have many of the most positive aspects of the Mormon faith with less of the dogmatic thinking and judgment. It's been fascinating to learn about this faith and its people. And it's also been eye opening. I think the exMormon community might have even helped my husband and I have a more successful marriage, because I was able to learn about how the church works. If I didn't know as much as I do, I would have been very confused about what happened to my husband's relationship with his kids. I might have even blamed myself.
I don't blame Mormonism for everything, by the way. The ex used it as one of many tools to destroy my husband's relationship with his daughters. However, I don't like Mormonism because it's a very divisive faith. If one person falls out of line or loses faith, the whole family unit can fall into pandemonium. People end up expending a lot of time and energy on worrying about their salvation instead of living their lives and enjoying what time they have with each other. Family fights abound... boundaries are violated... toes are stepped on... and shunning ensues. It's a huge waste of time and energy and, when you think of all the tithing that people pay to be in the church, it's also a huge waste of resources.
My husband was promised certain misery if he left the church. Instead, he's never been happier, healthier, or wealthier. He's happily married and has a good time when he's not working. When he is working, he's productive. He doesn't come home to nightly dramas or obligations imposed by the church. He doesn't have to live up to anyone's expectations but his own. He doesn't have to worry about winning God's favor. It's a very liberating way to be.
So yes, it's sad when people think they have to wait for God's will to make decisions. It's sad when they decide to forego using the brain God gave them to make their own choices. They surrender their minds to the invisible sky daddy, thinking the Lord will provide. And sometimes, they end up in a heap of trouble. Sometimes it works out, but I think that's more because they got lucky than anything else.
I'm not quite an atheist. I do believe in a higher power of some sort. I think there's got to be a reason that my husband and I found each other out of all the people in the world. Maybe it was just luck. Maybe there are many people out there in the world who could relate to me and love me the way my husband does. But I've met a lot of people in my lifetime and have never connected to anyone the way I connect to Bill. And I met him online in a place where I would least expect to find someone like him. So maybe God intervened. Or maybe I'm just very fortunate.
Anyway, those are my thoughts this sunny Saturday morning. Hope you have a "blessed" weekend that doesn't involve any euthanasia decisions.