Many people proclaim that they have “made a deal with the devil”. I on the other hand, made a deal with God.
I grew up without religion. In response to a request to go to a fundamentalist Baptist church with a schoolmate, my father, an avid atheist, once proclaimed to me “I don’t care if you go to church with your friends, you just won’t be dragging me there.” I went to church with my friend and while in awe of the full submersion baptisms going on, I declared that I would rather bathe in private, without assistance and with shampoo. Throughout junior high school, our house was the haven for errant Catholics, the place where friends would come hang out after telling their parents they were walking to mass. I often served a breakfast buffet. My mother, a lapsed German Lutheran, was much too busy being co-dependant with my alcoholic/drug addict brother to bother giving me any religious instruction.
As I grew up I developed a strong sense of independence. I had no need for my dysfunctional family, I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself, and I was fiercely protective of my own integrity. I knew I had the strength to persevere, to make decisions, stick to them and make them work. The family I created was going to be normal. Then my first marriage fell apart and my ex stole my children away to Texas.
In the depth of despair, unable to find a way on my own, I made a deal with God. “Dude, if you just help me get my kids back, I promise to take them to church most Sundays.” I pleaded, I prayed, I cried and I screamed. One and a half years later, my children came home to me.
Seventeen years later I continue to make deals with God. Raising 4 children has meant that I plead, pray, cry and scream a lot. But now I know someone is listening. Now, instead of just asking for things, I do things. I am still searching for a comfortable definition of faith, spirituality and religion, but God and I are working things out.