Chapter 18 -Me and God, A Love/Hate Relationship, From The Life of a Jewish Stripper
I knew that I would come to this chapter eventually. I suppose when you first started reading this book you thought I would tell you the exciting tales of being a stripper. You probably expected stories about all the fun I had when I was stripping and never imagined that a stripper or ex-stripper I should say would have thoughts on God, morality and what God means to her.
I think whether a person is a true believer, an agnostic, or an atheist, whatever one believes, at some point in their life a person struggles with their relationship with God. Do I believe in God? That is an interesting question. Who would care what an ex-stripper thinks about God? Does God love everyone, even strippers and whores? Haven’t we been told that God loves all “His children” equally and unconditionally? You would be surprised at the philosophical conversations my friend Chase and I had about God while getting high. Yes even strippers have existential conversations. Surprise, surprise, we are more than just what you see when we get naked for money. We are human just like you.
In ancient times before God revealed himself to be the one true God to Abraham then Moses, and the Jewish people as all other people they were pagans and had a different God for every aspect of life. They prayed to the Gods for a good harvest, protection from evil, health or healing for their loved ones, whatever and whenever things were good they thanked the Gods. And when things went wrong they blamed the Gods. The Hindu religion has always had many different Gods and still do.
Do I personally believe in God? I would say I’ve been on the fence at times. Much like the people of ancient times I am grateful when a prayer is answered and then when prayers are not answered I’m asking why my God has forsaken me. I try to tell myself to be patient and to wait, maybe there is a reason, perhaps it isn’t my time yet and then I get pissed off that my prayers are still not answered. And then I think “There is a God, but he can be such an asshole and why me?”
As I said previously, sometimes I think I’m cursed. Cursed with stupidity and cursed from birth in general. I have asked God why he gave me the parents he did. I have asked God many times why I haven’t been able to find true love. I have asked God why he let so many bad things happen to me. I have asked God why he has not favored me with children. And like people of ancient times, I have blamed God when things didn’t turn out the way I wanted and then I was grateful when things went well. I learned some things are a blessing in disguise.
I believe to question God’s existence is only human. I have been down on my knees many times asking God to forgive my wrongs, thanking God for the good things that happened, and praying for the things I want and praying for strength when I needed help.
I wonder sometimes if people invented God to explain all the horrible things that happen in this world. I am wary of people who don’t question God’s existence. I am also wary of people who are true believers and who say their God is the God of mercy and that everything has a purpose. What purpose is served by giving a child cancer? What purpose is served when serial killers mutilate their victims? What purpose is served with pain and anguish? These are my questions for God.
I do thank God for giving me strength to leave an abusive relationship. I do thank God that I have a home and heat in the winter. I do thank God for having at least one loving parent. I thank God for many things, like the fact that I’m alive when I could have died so many times. I thank God that I want to live now after wanting to kill myself so many times, he/it whatever God is has saved me for some reason, some purpose. But at the same time, I question certain things in the universe.
My concept of God is not the old man with a gray beard, sitting in the sky. My concept of God is more about Karma and the universe. I don’t think of God as being male or female. I think of God more as something that is not meant for us to understand completely. I believe the human brain cannot possibly wrap its brain around what God, the universe, or what Karma really is. I am very much drawn to Buddhism, which states that there must be suffering first.
Until I was sent to Hebrew school, I had no concept of God at all. Until I realized what being Jewish meant I knew nothing of God. I never had a Bat Mitzvah. However, I was sent to confirmation classes when I was around thirteen years old. That’s when I learned about the Holocaust and what the Jewish people had been through. When I saw the atrocities the Jews had been through, that is when I started to question how a God that was supposed to love his people so much could put them through such horrors.
Before coming to America, I didn’t know about antisemitism. I was unaware that Jews were different from other people. I didn’t know anything about my own religion or the other religions. I had no idea what being Jewish meant. I knew nothing of Christianity or that many people blamed Jews for killing Jesus. It was after coming to America that I learned how hated Jews were in the world. It was in the confirmation classes that I found out how many Jews were killed in World War II.
Yes back in Russia my family told me we were Jewish, but I was a child, and no one explained anything to me about religion or ethnicity. I knew nothing about Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and my own Judaism. As stated previously, no one really told me anything at home. I may have overheard things my mother, grandmother and my aunt discussed but it was grownups talking and since I was a kid I probably figured their conversations didn’t relate to me.
I was a happy-go-lucky kid until I was molested. Looking back and thinking about it I realize that even though I was only four or five years old, in my gut I knew something wasn’t right. But I told no one. And when it happened again right before we left Russia I knew again that what happened wasn’t normal. I was nine years old, and I knew in my gut that it wasn’t normal for a grown man to touch a child the way he touched me. But again, I told no one. Everything was a secret, and I didn’t want to rock the boat, though my inner child wanted to scream out “Mommy, grandma why is this man doing this, why can’t you hear it and stop it?” So, looking back I asked “Why did God let this happen to me? And what was the purpose of it?”
My old boss at the law firm I worked at in upstate New York used to tell me we are always being tested. I would say to myself “Why do we have to be tested constantly and haven’t we been through enough tests? I’m tired of being tested”.
As is the name of this chapter, my relationship with God has truly been a love/hate relationship. I often think God hates me. I often question why some people just seem born lucky and given everything when others are not. Yes life is unfair; that is a simple truth. But why are some prayers answered and others aren’t? Could it be that really the world is just random? Or are we constantly paying for our past Karmic sins? If you believe in reincarnation then you believe your brought certain things from past lives into this life.
For answers to these questions, you have to dig a little deeper. In my opinion you have to understand quantum physics. The Jews believe in numbers, they believe the Torah is a code which has an algorithm. They believe absolutely everything that happens in our world whether good or bad has a purpose. They call it Tikkun Olam. Tikkun means to repair, and Olam means the world. It implies that when God created the world he purposely left a rift, and it is our job not just as Jews but all human beings to repair it.
In quantum physics the concept is choice. Every action, every choice is actually a separate reality. The concept is that by your actions you actually change the molecular structure of your surroundings. Your choices are your reality. By the choices you make, you create your reality. So, then it is free will that was given to us to choose. That means every decision, every action has a consequence. All my choices in life have led me to this point today.
If I made different choices and different decisions I would be living an alternate reality. It’s like choosing doors. Which door do you want to walk through? Is this influenced by God or is it your free will? One knows inherently when they are making the wrong choice that it will lead to heartache and pain and yet one makes that choice anyway. And then of course one prays to God to lead them out of that living hell. These are the tests; these are the lessons. As cliché as it sounds, if you keep doing the same thing over and over you will not learn the lesson until you are ready. No one has put you through the pain but yourself.
Here we are back to the question. Do I believe in God? Absolutely I do. I would hate to be preachy here or suggest that I have some sort of message to deliver. Yes, I do believe in a higher power and that higher power lives in every being, in every person whether they be a good or bad person, even evil people, people who know right from wrong and choose to be evil anyway.
I personally believe that God is that thing that is divine within all of us. I believe that God is your internal compass. I believe it is that thing inside that tells you right from wrong. I believe God is your gut instinct, the one that gives you the bad vibes and the good vibes, the one you go against and fuck up when you know better, the one you know if you don’t listen to shit will turn out bad.
This is not about holy books or scriptures or anything you grew up with in a church or synagogue or any temple. This is your inner self who knows what is best and when you go against it shit goes sideways. Perhaps my opinions are shocking, but in my humble opinion, God is not about religion but spirituality. Though I am a Jewish person, I believe that all roads lead to the same place. Can one be a spiritual person without following and committing to a specific religion? Can one have a belief in a higher power without going to temple or a church? Most atheists I’ve known who believe in being good just because it is the right thing to do.
Moses received the ten commandments, and the majority of the world lives by those commandments. But I wonder if Moses did not get those commandments, would we inherently know right from wrong? Would we know on our own that it’s wrong to murder, steal, lie with your neighbor’s wife, be a false witness against you neighbor? Those are just some of the commandments.
But the number one commandment was that you shall have no other Gods. He is a demanding God; he can be an angry God. This is saying that you will be punished if you have other Gods and false idols? To the Jews he is the one and only God.
I’ll bet you never expected these musings on God from a former stripper, a Jewish stripper.