Hardships, Heathens, and the Holy Mess
Throughout the ages, human beings have had to deal with the concept that life is in no way rainbows and butterflies. Some, have had it much formidable than others. Usually, even if someone thinks they have lived a horrible life, someone out there, past or present, has had it worse. I am intrigued by their coping mechanisms. I recently read “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson”. In this recounted writing of her experience with being kidnapped by American Indians in 1675, she is forced to watch her loved ones killed mercilessly. Rowlandson carries her injured six-year-old child for miles and miles with no way to soothe his ailments or comfort him. She was obligated to watch and experience her own child actively die by her side while she was moved from one resting place to another and additionally was kept from her other children purposely by her captors. The story sucked me right in. Personally, I am not a religious person in any way. I do not believe that there is a God or higher being who created the Earth. At this time though, these people did. For some, believing in something more than their selves, was the only way they survived. Had they not had something to look forward to, some light at the end of the dark tunnel, they may have never made it through their tribulations. While she was in the custody of the Native Americans, she found peace and hope in recalling scriptures that she could relate to which gave her the perseverance to continue on instead of succumbing to the physical pain of her injury, the sadness she withheld, or becoming revengeful and causing her own death. Mary became acquainted with a few of her detainers, one in particular who gave her a bible. That bible instilled the mental strength for her to keep going because she felt somewhere there was reward for her misery. When Rowlandson had the opportunity, she used the Bible and it’s scriptures to motivate other captives to push through and gave them hope that the end to their trepidation was coming soon. I can assume that the survivors of the attacks regarded the same scriptures and Bible to harness the willfulness that their loved ones who were captured were somewhere still alive. God, religion, and the writings of the Bible gave them all hope. Without that, they could have given up their search attempts and moved on. Mary could have resisted and opposed her kidnappers. Instead, she chose to put her life in the hands of something that she had never physically seen. Her chances were 50/50. Yet, she survived. Her husband presented sermons along the East Coast after he paid for her freedom. Rowlandson followed him still full of faith that they would recover their surviving children. After negotiations with different tribes, Mary and her husband were able to retrieve the last of their offspring. Without hope, none of this would have been possible. Without the encouragement of an intangible idea, there would have been no possibility to bring her goals to fruition. Was it actually God? Probably not. That’s just my opinion though. I believe that it was her passion and determination that set forth the results of her tenure with the Native Americans. Mary may have accredited to some higher being. I will admit that without her faith in the unknown, she most likely wouldn’t have survived.
Bring that notion of the holy ghost and religion to modern day times. I have seen the same determination in colleagues and friends. Somehow something in life brings them down to lowest of lows. Be it drug addiction, depression, mistakes, or just giving up. I have seen the power of faith save people. I have personally seen people turn their lives around for a higher power. I think that it’s harder to attribute our wrongs to our own demise. Instead it’s easier to say “God gave me this struggle because he knew I could get through it and now he compensates my life with everlasting happiness”, rather than: “I made mistakes that clearly made a mess out of my life but I had the strength within me to overcome those challenges and strive to live positively through the reflection of my past experiences.” The second part sounds kind of lame, doesn’t it? I mean, what is living if there is nothing to look forward to when we pass away? It’s just more hope. That we can suffer through this physical life and be rewarded when we cross over to some other dimension where it resembles a paradise and every creature there gets along in perfect harmony. It sounds inviting. Just doesn’t sound to me like the truth. I have been at my lowest. I battled anxiety, depression, and addiction. And, I survived it all. The only thing I believed in was myself. Similar to the way that people forget parts of their past because they are so traumatic, our minds create reason, faith, whatever it is to push us to believe that we can survive the worst. It may not always result in what we had imagined, but it definitely works and has worked. If it’s God that accompanies you to a better awareness of your self, through a tough time, or takes you to hell and back than I cannot say anything negatively (not that I would anyways; to each his own) but I can and will thank God that you were able to be here today.