While trying not to “throw the baby out with the bath water” I finally responded to the questions I had about Christianity when I was in my third year. They had always been boiling beneath the surface of the appearance I had put together as the good Christian girl. The first question I managed to voice was “why does God have to be father, a man?”; if gender is a social construct then why does God have a gender and being subjected to our petty obsessions about what it means to be a man or a woman? If, as God’s subjects/minions, we could project our issues onto “him” then clearly “he” wasn’t such a great God.
A friend attempted to give an answer that I was not convinced with hence the torrent of questions continued focusing on the Christian family and religion. I decided I wouldn’t run into the arms of any other religion or worldview and I attempted to let go of church and see what image of God I would be left with(I recently discovered Julia Sweeney who helped me laugh at this). Initially I was plagued by the obvious guilt of not having men in cloaks and dresses telling me how to live my life. I also discovered I didn’t need to feign super-spirituality that often involved miracles and healing with people laughing or falling on the floor or bouncing off walls, giddy with the Holy Spirit as I had witnessed in some charismatic churches.
Instead I decided to withdraw and start with the basics: why did I need God in the first place? Could I not handle doubt and the anxieties of being in an ever changing world that I needed a crutch to convince me that everything was going to be alright? And what to make of church? Was it really spiritual family or another sub-culture trying to make sense of the world and convincing people of hope amidst the pretence of changing the world for better in the name of Jesus...in spite of what history had shown us about the church (we need only look at the confusion in Africa alone)?
I haven’t had many answers, instead I have more questions about how to makes sense of my history and the beliefs I once held onto very strongly. But when I realised God wasn’t going to smite me and guilt was a useless emotion, I decided to play with my imagination instead. So what if God was my imagination because I needed to be grateful for the events and grace I couldn’t make sense of in my life? I recognise that in many of the events that have led to where I am, I made some decisions-simply cause and effect-no booming voice from the sky or burning bush while on my way to school. But sometimes I can’t help wonder where the genius of realising that I have choices came from because I’ve witnessed people living most of their lives believing that life can simply happen to them without their permission (be it in the form of an oppressive government or relationship or conservative community), where they are subjects and perpetually warding off angry spirits they know nothing of.
I then re-discovered and began to trust my imagination that beckoned to me as a child to see how charmed life really is whether or not I accept it. The point isn’t the answers or the reasons to explain the wickedness or heinous crimes I sometimes see either, but to simply accept that, that’s what it is, life. I like spirituality, a personal and private kind where I don’t have to proselytise but be me as much as I can. That’s my first and only commandment: be you. And perhaps my tattoo, luthando eyona nto because I discovered there are few arguments against love.
All I am left with is my imagination...and fortunately, if I have children one day, I won’t have to teach them about imagination, because my nephews have taught me that’s something kids respond to intuitively. I may however have to advise them about protecting that imagination and allowing it to be unlimited in the quest of finding answers for everything.