LOVE, RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING - 1010 Park Place
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LOVE, RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING

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When I was a kid we seldom went to church unless my grandmother came to visit. I never went to vacation bible school, or understood the difference between the Old and the New Testament, or why I should have a relationship with God, and for much of my young life I thought it was significant that God spelled backwards was dog. Of course it didn’t occur to me that God spelled backwards in other languages like French or Spanish meant nothing.

But as I got older the concept of believing in God frightened me.

In my 20’s I watched Jim and Tammy Faye Baker on television and wondered who’d I’d be if I let God into my life? Frankly those people on television scared me. They were different from anyone I knew, and the thought of giving my soul to Jesus was like surrendering to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Would I throw my arms in the air when I talked about God, and why did I need Him in my life anyway?

I may have told you I love old churches in small Mexican villages. Numerous times I’ve sat in darkened confessionals and imagined that musty secrets and clandestine sins still hung in the air like death and broken dreams. My fingers touched the same well-worn wooden seats where centuries of hands had asked for atonement and waited for forgiveness. I don’t know if I expected to feel anything, but the signs I was looking for—if any—weren’t there. 

God never spoke to me, and I didn’t know how to pray or talk to Him.

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I’ve since learned I’ve “always had the power” to talk to God. It’s not a mystery. We just have to say, “Hi God. I don’t know how to pray, but I want to know you. I need your help. I need your strength. Please come into my life and show me how.” The rest will come if you open your heart and your mind.

About now some of you may be thinking I’m taking a new direction with my blog, but I’m not.  

I will still write about sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll and how to make the most of this time in our lives, but I would be remiss if I didn’t toss out—for your consideration—the concept of faith in God. 

In other blog posts I’ve mentioned I’m a woman of faith, but this is the first time I’ve been outspoken about it. I’m writing this because I’ve met several women over 50 and 60 who’ve achieved their goals and are looking for a deeper meaning to life. Some are looking for guidance about profound personal issues. Some are seeking answers to concepts bigger than themselves. Some have asked me about my faith.

I want them to know they’re not alone, but in today’s culture, if they’re interested in exploring faith and God, I fear they may be hesitant, embarrassed or afraid to dig deeper and ask questions.

In the last 10 days three, black Christian churches in Louisiana were burned; there was a shooting in a Jewish synagogue in California—six months ago there was another shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue—and a shooting at a Muslim mosque in New Zealand. I’m alarmed and saddened that while we may have different belief systems, our ability to celebrate our similarities and respectfully agree to disagree is on the decline.

It seems as though it’s okay to be atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, practice voodoo or be “spiritual,” but Christians, Jews and Muslims are eliciting increasing unspeakable hatred. (You might be interested to know, contrary to popular thought, you can’t pigeonhole any of these groups as Democrat, Republican, Independent, gay, straight or transgender.)

No one should fear for their safety in a place of worship or feel pressured to keep their faith, or lack thereof, secret.

PS: If you’re interested in learning more about the words of God you might try the #1 Bestseller, Jesus Calling, that has poignant, bite-sized entries by Sarah Young to read 365 days of the year. If you’re interested in reading the Bible, I would start with the New Testament—it’s easier for a newbie to digest—and read the New International Version (NIV). The NIV is written in easy to read English and has footnotes and maps that puts Biblical events in context with what was happening in the rest of the world at that time, or you may want to read the Jewish Torah and/or the Old Testament in the NIV Bible.

Love, Brenda

30 Comments

  • Taste of France May 4, 2019 at 1:37 am

    There’s faith and then there’s religion. Religion is the set of rules around whether you’re practicing your faith the right way. Religion can be helpful (giving inspiration or reminders about doing the right thing), it can be comforting (providing a community of support), the powerful have used it to control people (who you can marry, what you eat, what you wear, social hierarchy–often putting women at the bottom), it has been the root of many, many wars and attacks over the centuries. I don’t think some of these aspects of religion have much to do with faith, which is a personal conversation with God.

    • 1010ParkPlace May 4, 2019 at 7:30 am

      TOF, I’m only referring to the concept of believing in God. Throughout history I would guess more wars have been fought in the name of religion than any other single cause. Living in France religious/ruling history is all around you while here in the US we’re reminded of settlers who staked their claims in a new land and personal freedoms to get away from all of that but ironically enacted slavery. Now we’re drowning in political correctness and hatred. Thank you for adding to the conversation. Brenda

  • Karena May 4, 2019 at 7:19 am

    Hi Brenda,
    Thank you so much for sharing your feelings on faith. What a different world this would be if everyone showed even a bit more kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness. I was raised Catholic and no longer attend services: however the tenants I was raised with…do unto others, etc are carved in my soul forever. I have given Jesus Calling to many of my friends and family. xoxo Karena

    • 1010ParkPlace May 4, 2019 at 11:08 am

      Karena, So many of us have strayed from churches/religion we were raised in, but we still carry the good lessons we learned there. The book Jesus Calling was given to me by one of my neighbors and I love reading the daily messages. They always clear away the rest of the clutter and nonsense from the day. xoxox, Brenda

  • Beckye May 4, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Praying many come to know Him and His goodness and grace in very real ways from your post. Thank you for sharing!

    • 1010ParkPlace May 4, 2019 at 11:09 am

      Thank you, Beckye. Love, Brenda

  • Pat May 4, 2019 at 9:14 am

    It is so interesting you should write about this because I am grappling with this issues of faith, religion and God. I have been inside synagogues, mosques and cathedrals across Europe, but have yet to discover an organised religion that is all inclusive. And yet I am a spiritual being and believe in a higher power. Respect, tolerance, kindness, forgiveness and love are the tenets of my faith.

    • 1010ParkPlace May 4, 2019 at 11:19 am

      Pat, I don’t think you will find an organized religion that is everything to everyone. The tenants of each of the major religious belief systems are fundamentally different, and “being spiritual and believing in a higher power” is not the same as having faith in God. If you’re interested in visiting a church you might try the Unitarian Church. While they believe in God, from my experience they are the most inclusive of “organized religious” groups. xoxox, Brenda

      • Pat May 6, 2019 at 1:52 am

        Thanks Brenda I will look into seeing if I can find that denomination over here. In the meantime I will embrace life with open arms and continue to learn.

        • 1010ParkPlace May 6, 2019 at 1:35 pm

          Well said, Pat. That’s the best any of us can do. Wishing You All God’s Blessings, Brenda

  • Barbara May 4, 2019 at 10:23 am

    This is a great post, Brenda. I was turned off of religion at a very early age. My grandfather, who I adored, was a Southern Baptist Preacher. I didn’t really adore that aspect of him. The men I saw preaching scared the hell out of me, or thought they did. I remember a guest preacher once who loosened his tie and walked up and down the aisle claiming he could ‘find sin!’ He stopped next to a woman and grabbed her purse and turned it upside down. Her keys fell out and they were on a key ring with dice. OMG, he went on a tirade about what a sinner she was! I wanted to run out of the building but, granddaddy put his hand on my shoulder and asked, “Have you been saved girl?” I nodded my head repeatedly while praying he would let go. I somehow managed to not have to go to church with them after that.
    I married an Episcopalian, over 50 years ago, and even though we don’t go ‘religiously’ (pun intended), to church, I feel safe and at peace when we do. To me, our faith is very personal as far as what we truly believe. I don’t want to be preached at. We recently found a church we like, here in Cape May. The people are nice, the minister is low key, the music is beautiful, and that may keep us going more often. God never wanted us to be afraid of our relationship with him, in my opinion.
    xob

    • 1010ParkPlace May 4, 2019 at 11:27 am

      Barbara, Oh, dear!! That would scare the wits out of me as well. I was exposed to a little bit of that when I was young, and when somebody starts wagging their finger in my face and talking about sin and damnation… I’m outta’ there! I love the church I attend. Our minister is very down to earth and uses himself and his life and mistakes and fears as relatable examples, and it’s always something that’s encouraging and we can relate to. He doesn’t pass judgement. Our church lifts one another up and is there for one another. Churches we feel comfortable in are very personal things. God just wants us to have a relationship with Him. xoxox, Brenda

  • holly May 4, 2019 at 11:02 am

    As always your post is the right thing at the right time. I too struggle with faith / religion and recently more than ever. My family were Christian Scientists until my father was killed in a plane crash when I was six. My mother moved to Methodism and I received my instruction there from our minister who was sleeping with the head of the choir. Those two groups had me running for the exits and I have remained outside organized religion since. But I too find myself looking for something. Not sure what but something. Jesus? Highly unlikely with the tone set by the US Christian faiths and their leaders (intolerance, bigotry, misogyny, hypocrisy … Mr. Pence, Mr. Graham, that’s you). God? Possibly. Like you, I just don’t know where to begin but your suggestion in “Hi God” is a good place for me to open myself to that something. I hope she listens…..

    • 1010ParkPlace May 4, 2019 at 11:37 am

      Holly, LOL! I love your humor there about “she” and can totally relate to being turned off to organized religions. My stepfather was a wonderful man. Loved and respected by all. He was a Christian Scientist and I don’t understand a religion that doesn’t seek medical treatment when needed. If you’re grappling with faith and religion, you might see if there’s a Unitarian church in your area. They believe in God but are more inclusive than many religions. You might also consider Sarah Young’s book I mentioned. She writes short, short pieces to read daily that are uplifting and may give you an insight into God… not organized religion. xoxox, Brenda

  • Connie May 4, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Waaay outside my box to refer others to anything, but I was led by a trusted friend to Unity. I’m learning to be more tolerant, create peace through meditation, and open myself to new ideas. Thankful….

    • 1010ParkPlace May 4, 2019 at 11:42 am

      Hi Connie! My mother and grandmother were Unity. I don’t know whether they do this anymore, maybe online, but they used to publish a book called “Daily Word” that had daily things to read that gave you a lot to think about. I still have one of mother’s small Daily Word books on my nightstand. It is a God based faith that teaches a positive approach to life and accepts the inherent good in all people. A lovely faith! Thanks for your awesome addition to the conversation. xoxox, Brenda

  • Sally May 4, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    My mother used to love to read the Daily Word from the Unity church. Saying that, she was a devout Methodist. IF any of your followers are looking for a church which respects all faiths, I recommend the Methodist church. Our motto is Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Hearts.

    • 1010ParkPlace May 6, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      Sally, In 2004, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer my mother called Daily Word’s prayer ministry, Silent Unity, and asked them to pray for my healing. They sent me a heartfelt card I still have in my Bible. I just looked them up online and see they’re going strong. http://www.dailyword.com Several of my friends go to the Methodist church and have great things to say about it. xoxox, Brenda

  • Eileen chadwick May 5, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Read FAITH and NATURE Paul K Chadwick….and understand it all.

    • 1010ParkPlace May 6, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Eileen, I see Paul has more than a solid background in science. This will be an interesting book! Thanks so much for the reference, Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA May 5, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    I’m with YOU HOW DOES ONE PRAY?
    I went to Sunday school until they changed it to WEDNESDAY NIGHT SCHOOL!THis was back in the 1960’s!I think it would have interrupted the DINNER HOUR!MY MOTHER SAID NO MORE!
    I LOVE RELIGIOUS ARTIFACTS and old CHURCHES.
    But I do not need to go to church……to Sing and chant and stand up and sit down!
    I’m OKAY with THAT as I have my FAMILY,FRIENDS and ANIMALS to TALK TOO.
    GREAT POST!
    GREAT SUBJECT!
    XOXO

    • 1010ParkPlace May 6, 2019 at 1:57 pm

      Elizabeth, Praying is fundamental to faith, but it’s not something that anyone I know, personally, teaches although there are books written about how to pray. In the Bible Jesus said the best prayer is the “Lord’s Prayer,”… Our Father, who art in heaven… I think we’ve all heard that one. I know many people who believe in God but who don’t go to church. I appreciate your contribution to the discussion! Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  • TJ May 6, 2019 at 3:34 am

    Having been raised by a crazy mother who was ‘born again’ and having been grounded for the rest of my life at 16.5 years the only place I was allowed was church and youth group, and I got totally into it. That is where I met my Prince Charming. We Saved each other. He was from a much deeper cult-like Christian church out West and was only at Mother’s church because he was staying and working with his uncle. Our relationship was the only good thing to come out of that place. He is still processing the complex trauma of growing up in a loveless harsh and judgemental cult that the rest of his family are still loyal to. In the years since, I have travelled down the ancient pathways of Hinduism, Buddhism and all kinds of unicorn worship and incense burning rituals. I now identify with humanity more than anything. God is not a ‘person’. God is a presence. The essence of God is in everything and around everything. God as a concept is too big for man’s small brain to manage, hence we as men created God in our image. And with it, much suffering.

    There are 3 things I take away with me as a result of my deep dives into the various offerings of faith:

    1. The Golden Rule. It’s so simple, it’s ridiculous. Just treat others how you would like to be treated, or how you would like your own loved ones to be treated.
    2. Your intention is your prayer. Mean well.
    3. Bad things happen to good people. The Universe is not out to get you. It doesn’t work that way.
    4. Never think you’ve got it all figured out. It will only take 5 minutes, something will happen and you will be proved wrong.

    Blessings Xxxxxx

    • 1010ParkPlace May 6, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      TJ, Your story speaks to so many of us who were exposed to cults or extreme religious regimens that turned us off of religion forever. I’m sorry you and Prince Charming had that experience, but you found one another. I agree with you that God is in everything. He is presence. He is energy. The concept of a God who created everything is more than our tiny brains can handle so I think that’s why we call it “faith.” I like your “takeaways” very much and if all of us could practice the Golden Rule… and nothing else… think what a very different world this would be. Bad things do happen to good people. God doesn’t micromanage our lives. I believe He gave us His “rules” or commandments, which in many ways are the Golden Rule, and the rest is up to us and the decisions we make. Awesome, wonderful comment!! Blessings to you as well. xoxox, Brenda

  • Victoria May 8, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    I have been involved with religion one way or another all of my life. I have been to about every type of church there is and have found God in most. My faith is strong and I see that He does take care of His people. My life has never been easy but I always knew that God had my back. Bad things happen that’s life. My faith keeps me strong and I pray about everything.

    • Brenda Coffee May 8, 2019 at 8:18 pm

      Hi Victoria, Such is life for the vast majority of us. It’s rarely easy is it? I’ve been wondering how your husband is doing and you… How are you? You’re both still in my prayers. xoxox, Brenda

  • jeannette May 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Again what an interesting post. Being raised Roman Catholic I was sure as a young kid I was going to hell….why oh why would I think that because I knew I was not “perfect” although I tried to be. The breaking point for me is when I met the love of my life, who was not Catholic but divorced and my church advised me I could not marry in the Catholic church unless my husband got an annulment…..what, he’s not Catholic. It was not cheap to get this done but I truly did not believe we should not have this done and I still feel that way. Btw we’ve been married 40 years this fall. To make a long story short, I walked away from my church, married in my husband’s church. Now that our children are adults we seldom go to church. I would love to find one that does not preach and talks about something I can relate to. Having moved a number of times through our married life I know I would like to be part of a church community. I will look for a Unitarian church in my area. However, its such a small city I’m not very hopeful.
    I feel so lucky to have found your blog Brenda.

    • Brenda Coffee May 16, 2019 at 11:39 am

      Jeannette, I’m happy you found my blog as well. Isn’t it ironic that so many denominations want us to know God and His Son, but in one way or another, they turn us off of religion? Very troublesome. I didn’t start going to church until I was 50 and anything that even hinted of “sin and damnation” from the pulpit made me run straight for the exit. I didn’t want someone who was judgmental and wagged his finger in my face. I’m so fortunate to have found a pastor who is down to earth, uses himself and his life as examples of how he could have been a better person. I always learn something from him. Perhaps it’s my age as well but I’m more receptive to a church community. My husband died, unexpectedly, on Christmas Day in 2010, and my church family was there for me in every way. I don’t know what I would have done without them or without my faith in God. You might visit several churches in your area and try them on for size. I’m not sure the Catholic church has changed since you got married, so you might want to skip that one. Presbyterians are known for being pretty middle of the road and not too preachy. Thanks, again, for your awesome comment. xoxox, Brenda

  • Linda V May 29, 2019 at 6:49 am

    I was raised Catholic. When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I was sitting in church one day praying to some saint or another, and a bolt of truth hit me—I am praying to people! just people that this church decided are special. That started me on a road of questioning the Catholic Church. At age 16 I told my mother that I did not consider myself Catholic anymore! Now, at my older age, lI am agnostic. I do not believe in a God. To think that some being somewhere created all the planets and just dropped us here on this one planet—I am sorry, this is absurd! I am still a good person, caring about others, being kind and generous. It is so possible to be a good person, a good human, without the basis of faith.

    • Brenda Coffee May 30, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      Linda, You’re right. We can be a good person and a good human without the basis for faith. I’ve always had the same problem with the Catholic church… praying to a saint, who was a person who did wonderful things. To me, God obviously isn’t something we can comprehend nor is the universe, but the symmetry and the way everything so neatly fits together in the universe couldn’t have happened randomly, so I choose to believe in God. We don’t have definitive proof that God exists, but that’s why they call it “Faith.” I have faith there is a God, and that I will know this some day. Thanks for reading and thinking about this and leaving me a comment. I appreciate you! Brenda

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