Everything has to start somewhere, right?

The evening in rural KwaZulu Natal

I believe in God.

Sometimes I wonder why I do and sometimes I wonder why it seems as though I can’t not.

I believe in God for two reasons:

My mum told me to.

He changed my life.

But let’s track back a little. I’ve already made three (apparent) presumptions: That God exists, that God is involved in human affairs and that God is “He”.

I believe God exists – The honest reason for this is that it has always seemed impossible to me that there is nothing; That the universe willed itself into existence and that matter was just like, you know, hiding in gaseous vapours and stuff before it decided  to randomly explode into thousands of complex planetary systems. I do accept the concept of the Big Bang; I just believe someONE commanded it to happen.

After that it all gets a little hazier. We can’t prove empirically that God intervenes in human affairs (although some might say we can) and we can’t prove God reveals himself as “He”. This we draw from our religious traditions.

I’m not going to rattle on about the arguments for God, Thomas Aquinas and the first cause theory yada yada. Look it up if you like. What I am more interested in sharing is my own experiences of God.
And that is why I have started this blog.

Here are some Cereal Box Facts about me:

I am Catholic.

I am 25 years old. (at the time of writing!)

I was born in Zimbabwe, went to High School in Zambia and then College in South Africa but I have a British Passport and the EU is the only place in the world where I can lawfully reside without a visa, yet I have spent a grand total of 4 months living in the UK in my whole life.

I struggle with my Faith on a daily basis.

I love my Faith.

I have Purely Obsessional OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

I have considered becoming a priest.

I have considered getting married.

I am single. (At time of writing – but most probably even if not time of writing)

I have slowly come to realise that there is very little I can be certain of in this life.

____________________________

Let us expound:

I grew up feeling that God was important. I went to a Catholic primary school, went through the usual, first confession, first communion routine and I sincerely believed that there was a big guy in the sky watching over us all.

I was a very impressionable youngster and also very easily frightened (these fears were in fact the first manifestations of my anxiety disorder). I was afraid of the devil and I was afraid of offending God somehow. I had repetitive prayers and tics I would do to ease my anxiety.

However, I ambled along through life and I had a reasonably good childhood with mud flinging, romping with the dogs, fishing and all the rest. In 2001, when I was 12 years old, my family (i.e: my mother, sister and I) moved from Zimbabwe to Zambia. Although a hard time for me, life in Zambia wasn’t bad and I grew into a skateboarding, Taekwon-Do obsessed, pimply teenager.

Me with my Taekwon-Do group back in the day

God didn’t feature that much except for an occasional trip to Mass at the Jesuit seminary and my phases of obsessive prayers to ease anxiety for whatever reason.

Finally I came to Cape Town with my mother and I studied at a film school while she looked for work.

In my second year at Varsity my life came crashing down. My father had died a few months prior and my anxiety disorder finally caught up with me. I plunged into a depression and a truly dark horrid time. I scraped the bottom of the barrel and while I was down there I turned to God for help. Eventually I got through and emerged, rather shaken, on the other side. God receded into the background again but I still knew there was something important in all of this “God stuff.”

Third year came and went and I bumbled along as usual. I can’t say my life had any spark or joy, my main focus was finishing film school and being a good editor. My psychological state was not good and I was desperately looking for comfort and companionship.

In this time I went to Mass sporadically and on one evening I showed up, not too happy about life and heard the priest announce a Prayer and Life course was starting the next day. Why not, I thought and the next evening I showed up in all my scepticism.

It was the beginning of a wild ride. We were challenged to read the Bible daily and reflect on certain passages for half an hour each night. We experimented with different forms of prayer: contemplative, imaginative, written etc. Once the course was over I definitely felt a stronger connection to God but I was still unconvinced about this whole Catholic/Christian thing.

I hadn’t been confirmed so I decided to do the RCIA course (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) which is basically a yearlong course that introduces people to the Catholic faith (which most Catholic churches offer). At the end of the course the catechumens (as they are called) get either baptised or confirmed or both depending on what their story is. I was pretty sceptical about the whole thing but once I started I slowly found myself wanting to learn more and more and before I knew it I had fallen in love with the Church (you will notice I didn’t say God).

Does that mean I finally knew without a doubt that God existed? Nope. Since then I’ve been up and down and all around in regards to my faith but what I can say is that I can note a stark contrast between my life before I decided to commit myself to God and after. This is not a difference in quality or joy or “goodness”. The difference for me is the sense that I am not alone. The thought that the Being that created the Universe knows and cares about me is a comforting one. But just because I believe it, doesn’t make it true. The only thing I can compare it to is breathing through a piece of cloth your whole life so you are always struggling to take in a deep breath and then one day it’s removed and suddenly you can breathe. I am not talking about mystical experiences or divine revelation but simply a shift in attitude, a shift in perception and perspective that occurred only once I gave God a little bit of myself to work with.

Yes, I believe in God. For me, without God there is no reason for this moment to exist, there is no reason for the universe to hold itself together, to function in an ordered way. And if there is no God then consciousness is one heck of a cruel joke of nature.

But this blog is not an attempt to prove or disprove anything, rather it’s a dialogue. A person of faith trying to give people a glimpse into what goes on in the mind of one, OCD, displaced believer – and why he continues to believe when it sometimes doesn’t seem logical.

Enjoy the ride.

Matchbox pinhole camera picture taken by Kirsty at tea time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19 thoughts on “Everything has to start somewhere, right?

  1. There have been many decent arguments made for and against God. I enjoy studying them, although I agree that the truth is unlikely to be proven. I am also glad you are writing personal experience posts.
    This gives readers some insight into the thoughts, struggles and triumphs of someone who is not approaching the subject purely academically.
    I am quite interested in reading more about your thoughts and experiences relating to faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Who Needs to be Saved? Part 1: Certainty and the Nature of God | Not a Theology Class

  3. I’m Catholic and I also suffer from OCD. It’s not full-blown, but I can go through phases of anxiety and and getting fixated on things. I also found it interesting that you went to film school, because filmmaking is the field that I want to go into (In fact, my blog is about reviewing movies and other media). I’m glad to find another Catholic blogger that I have a few things in common with 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Do you know about other catholic bloggers with mental disorders? It’s so great to see you sharing your experiences…. I want to see of others too.

    Like

    • Hi Another Pilgrim! There are a few Catholic and Christian bloggers sharing their stories. Whether that be depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders. You can find some great examples at liberonetwork.com but there are many more!

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Like

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