Lapses in Faith

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I probably haven’t mentioned this, but I am Methodist Christian. My family didn’t always go to church when I was a child, but we began attending church when I was in fourth grade. From then on we have been shoulder-deep in church activities. I love my church and I love my religion, but there have been some points in my life when I have had extreme lapses in faith that I’d like to share.

The first is when my grandfather abruptly died of brain trauma caused by a fall when he had a stroke. This happened during my freshman year of high school, and not much explanation is needed for that one. I think most people question God after the death of a family member. He wasn’t extremely old, and he left behind a younger wife, nine children, and seven grandchildren who weren’t ready to see him go. That being my very first experience with death, I was stunned. I remember holding his right hand while my grandmother held his left as we waited for his struggle to end after we chose to remove his life support. It was a surreal moment, watching a man I’d known my entire life leave this world before my eyes.

I had no doubts of his accession to heaven. He was not only a pastor, but he was also one of the sweetest and funniest old men you could ever hope to meet. Over the years I’d begun to see him as indestructible. He’d survived multiple bypass surgeries and suffered from severe heart disease, yet he always seemed healthy as a horse. He went to the gym almost daily and worked a full time job, and was always one of the more energetic people of my family. So to see all that jubilance suddenly flatline was a shock for me.

The usual questions of “Why God?” and “What did he ever do wrong?” ran through my mind for a while after that. Eventually they faded though, and I learned to handle family deaths much better after that.

The second time I had a severe lapse in faith was not caused by a specific event, but was more of a long process that caused doubtfulness over time. I live in a big city where it is very diverse and poverty is a general problem. Because of that I’ve grown up with a very open mind and have developed an mindfulness toward all people. However, we travel half an hour to our church, which is in a town as different from my city as red is from blue.

Throughout middle and high school, I increasingly took notice of the close-mindedness of my peers at church. The town where my church is located is a very rich town by my standards (a majority of the congregation have mansions, in-ground pools, fancy SUV’s, all that good stuff). And don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful for them to have all those things and to be so well off. But for me, who grew up in an a row-home and attended public school in an inner city district, it was extremely hard for me to fit in. I’ve only ever had one friend from church visit my home because I was much too embarrassed to let people see the vast difference in our economic standpoints.

Another reason that it was difficult for me to fit in is that I’m from an interracial family. My mom is white and my dad is black. In the entire congregation of over two hundred people, my dad is and always has been the only black member of the church. Believe me when I say this, the people at my church are not racist. However, their lack of exposure to diversity over the years has led them to fear being perceived as racist. And what does that provide? Really awkward, forced conversations with people who seem to be making sure they reach out to our family.

Those two things added up, multiplied by years of attendance, grated on my nerves quite a bit. My parents were always ingraining in me that I have to be understanding and open-minded even to people who are not. However, I stopped attending youth group altogether during my freshman year of high school, and I resented going to sunday school. Anything that forced me to be with kids my age there made me uncomfortable by that point. I even tried attending a Lutheran church in my own town, opting to walk there by myself on Sunday mornings rather than go with my family to our church. However, that only lasted for a few months.

As I grew older and matured more, I began attending church regularly again, and by my senior year in high school I was very much an active member of the church. Sadly though, I never did return to youth group.

My most recent lapse in faith is still in progress. I’m recovering, but it’s a journey that is going to take some time and reflection. I’m a freshman in college, and during my first semester my mind was blown. I’m a nursing major, so I have to take a ton of science classes before I can begin my clinicals. However, I absolutely love science so I don’t mind this at all. Between my biology and chemistry courses, I learned so much that I didn’t know what to do with it all. I was tickled pink by all the knowledge and my new understanding of how our world works. But then it started combatting my religion.

It started slowly and I didn’t notice it much, until one day I had a tearful conversation on the phone with my boyfriend, Brendan, who lives back home. I was explaining to him all of these confusions I was having between science and religion. Evolution was obviously a big contender, but even smaller things began to bother me. The significance of certain numbers in chemistry started to weigh heavily on my mind, and the complexity of molecular genetics caused me to doubt any sort of plan for each person in the world. (It didn’t help that we were also studying biblical contradictions in my humanities literature course.) All my life I had easily ignored all the reasons people have for lack of faith, but suddenly it was all being thrust at me at once through my education.

I eventually started coming to conclusions that completely disregarded the Christian religion altogether. The ideas of heaven and hell seemed so far fetched in light of all the cold, hard facts I’d been learning and memorizing. Is there even a heaven, and if so, what is it like? Why would an omnipotent Lord need to test us, and since He does, doesn’t that contradict the theory that He loves us unconditionally? I kept asking myself these questions over time, and they all came pouring out over the phone that one night. Brendan sympathized with me and communicated his own doubts as well. After hours of talking, we were on unknown ground. Why are we alive? Do we even need faith?

It was hard on the both of us trying to figure out our own thoughts on religion. I remember feeling this sense of despair hanging over me the next few days after that. I’d never gone so far in my life as to doubt God completely. Yes, I’d previously doubted His intentions and reasoning, but never His love or His existence. Without my dependance on faith, I was left with no meaning and no direction. I felt horrible.

I’ve since begun to rebuild my relationship with God slowly, and attending church with my family every week when I was home over winter break helped loads. I’ve never been the perfect prayer buddy or an avid bible-reader, but in my own thoughts I’ve been organizing my reasonings between science and religion carefully. Now, instead of letting the complexity of chemical forces and our biological processes cause doubts, I let them serve as proof of the Lord’s careful planning when he created everything.

There will always be things within my religion that I don’t quite agree with, and I may not get along with everyone at my church, but at least now I have that rock to hold on to again. When I didn’t let God be there for me, it may have just been one of the worst feelings I’m ever experienced.

What are some experiences you’ve had that caused you to have a lapse in faith? Or if you’re not religious, go ahead and let me know why. In the words of my gym, this is a no judgement zone 🙂

Magical Feeling

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I don’t know where you all are right now, but in Indiana, PA it has been snowing almost every day since I got back from winter break. Being from Allentown, I’m not used to living high up in the mountains. I’ve always been one to fantasize about summer during the winter months, but now that I’m here in what seems more like a tundra, my mind is running rampant with thoughts of hot days and sand between my toes.

Speaking of sand between my toes, earlier I was thinking about an experience I had in the summer of 2011. My family went to Carolina Beach, NC for a vacation that year. And when I say my family, I mean a lot of people. My two aunts, my uncle, my cousin, my step-grandma, my parents, my younger sister, my aunt’s friend, my friend Arielle, and me. The eleven of us squeezed into a cheap condo for two weeks, and it was one of the best experiences of my entire life.

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I didn’t take this, but it was taken at Carolina Beach where we were staying. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place.

My friend Arielle, who I convinced my parents to bring with us, is one of my best friends of all time. Having her around made the vacation absolutely perfect. We spent as much time as possible on the beach or the boardwalk. The great thing about the boardwalk there is that there are no stores or rides or attractions. It’s a dimly lit walkway with periodic offsets with seating areas. If only I’d had a boyfriend at the time to walk down it with; talk about romantic!

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Here’s a picture of Arielle and me at the beach, taken by my aunt Crystal. Yes, my hair was extremely short back then.

Arielle and I loved hanging out with my family during our time there. The Cuban side of my family was with us, so let’s just say things were never dull with them. However, sometimes we just needed a break from all the noise and constant hugs. So one night we snuck out around midnight to go stargazing on the beach. I remember the exhilaration of sneaking out for the first time, in an unfamiliar place nonetheless! Giggling like the young teenage girls that we were, we tiptoed barefoot across the gravel road separating us from the dunes. When we reached the beach, we ran straight for the water to wet our feet, never daring to go past knee-deep in the unknown darkness of the ocean.

I was thinking to myself how starkly different the shore is at night compared to during the daylight. Suddenly the sand feels so much more uneven under your steps because in the low light your depth perception can’t quite grasp the dips and divvies left by the day’s travelers. The foam lined water no longer looks refreshing, but instead carries an air of mystery in its blackness. If you look up and it’s not cloudy, the view is always breathtaking. I’m from a city where you’re lucky if you see a few stars a night, and even then I can’t trust them when I live five minutes from the airport.

Arielle and I looked for a flat spot to lie down our towels, but kept coming across wet patches of sand from the tide pools that had littered the beach during the day. By the middle of the night they had soaked into the ground, but the sand was still very wet, even right up near the dunes. At first we were dismayed that almost all of the sand was wet, rendering us without a comfortable place to sit. However, being the clumsy person I am, I tend to look at my feet when I walk. What I saw practically immobilized me.

We’ve all heard of the “glowing blue waves” that people witness at beaches if they’re lucky. Bioluminescence wasn’t a new concept to me, but I never expected to see it right below my feet in North Carolina on that night.

Whenever I set my foot down, hundreds of tiny, blue pinpricks appeared on the sand around and under it. For a moment I bent down to look closely at the reactive glowing of the millions of microscopic plankton clinging to life in the rapidly drying sand. I’m really into biology and I love thinking about things scientifically, especially when it comes to nature. But sometimes I like to just let my imagination run wild instead.

Soon Arielle and I were singing and running and jumping down the beach, spinning and stomping to the made-up beats in our heads. Looking down at my feet, I imagined myself as a ethereal creature dancing gracefully over the sand. The ground was alive beneath me, greeting my feet magically with every step. Feeling elegant and exquisite, I let myself lose touch with reality for the time we remained on the beach.

By the time we tired ourselves out, the sand was almost finished drying and the lights were becoming sparse. We lied down on the finally dry sand, regretting wishing for it in the first place. The moment was over and we had no way of getting it back. Despite that, we couldn’t stop smiling. We kept describing to each other what we’d seen, as if the other hadn’t also witnessed it.

I love to capture beauty in art and photographs, but a moment like that is not something you can capture with anything besides a memory. Even if had taken a picture, it would have just looked like small dots on the ground. Even if I tried to paint a picture of it now, it would just be blue flecks on a black canvas. Nothing can bring back the feeling of creating the light with my own steps, the magic of it. That’s okay though, because I think we all need experiences like that. Everyone needs something to long to go back to, something that cannot be recreated with ease. If it could be, it wouldn’t be so magical feeling in the first place.

What’s an experience you’ve had that made you feel magical?

Welcome to Talkin’ With the Sun!

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Hey wonderful! This is my first post on my blog, Talkin’ With the Sun! I just want to take this time to explain what this blog will be about.

It’s about everything.

Whoo, glad I got that out of the way! But no really, it really is going to be about pretty anything that pops into my head. I focus a lot on my hobbies and my studies, but I also talk about daily life, fashion, beauty, dreams, goals, inspirations, and a whole slew of other things. OH, and don’t forget food and DIY. We can’t live without those!

I’d like to introduce myself a little bit now. My name is Kimberly Ghorm and I am a college student (which would explain why I’m typing this at the library right now and pretending I’m doing schoolwork). I’m a nursing major with a soon-to-be minor in psychology. I go to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a big public school, which is a little scary for me considering I can be quite the introvert at times.

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That’s me during my senior year of high school. I promise I’ll get up some more recent pictures eventually!

One thing you’ll notice right away about me is that I like way too many things. I can never seem to pick one interest, and so I just devote myself to every little hobby I can get my hands on. I’m a musician, an oil painter, a sketcher, a poet, a song-writer, a story-writer, a science freak, a marching band member, a cat lover, a fashionista (I hate that word but I can’t think of a better one), a runner, and a bunch of other contrasting things. Science and the arts always seem to butt heads in my life because it’s so hard to make time for both. However, I’ve been working on ways to incorporate both in my daily life at the same time. You’ll see a post about that soon enough!

I named this blog Talkin’ With the Sun after a line from the song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, by B.J. Thomas. Here’s a link if you’ve never heard it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hziG9Nr6KHU. It’s not my usual cup of tea when it comes to music, trust me. But it’s been one of my favorites for years and my favorite line is, “So I just did me so talkin’ to the sun, and I said I didn’t like the way he got things done. Sleeping on the job, those raindrops are falling on my head. They keep falling.” It reminds me of a point in my life when I decided enough was enough and I finally did something about the rain that kept falling. I’m sure you’ll find out more about that in an upcoming post as well!

That’s all for now, but I hope you’ll stick around the rest of my babblings in the future. Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear in the comments what your favorite hobbies are, and if any of them conflict with each other.