Fun fact about me: I’m a bundle of contradictions. I’m an extroverted introvert in the right circumstances. I believe in God but rely heavily on science, logic, and reasoning that’s firmly outside of traditional religion. I’m deeply spiritual, but I’m an extreme cynic. If there’s a reason to doubt, no matter how small, I’ll latch on to it, and you won’t get me to budge without a rational discussion.
I’m also stubborn to the point of self-destruction, but that’s a different story.
When I have to make a decision about something important? I’ll look at the facts, calculate the odds and weigh the risks. There will be an extensive list of pros and cons. It will border on obsessive to a concerning degree. It doesn’t matter how remote the possibilities are, they’ll go on the list. Accidents, floods, tornados, alien abduction…What else could go wrong? I’m sure I’m missing something.
After all of that, I won’t make my decision without a lot of prayer. Also, a clear sign from above would be helpful. Preferably that sign will be larger than a billboard and lit up like and airport runway. Why aren’t signs from the divine like that? Why are they always obscure and open to interpretation?
I don’t like subtly or parables. Just use your words and be concise. Say it like it is, and don’t give me a riddle. I hate riddles. They make me feel stupid and I’m not a complete idiot. Arg, it’s so frustrating.
Please put it in writing, have it notarized and hand-delivered. Is that too much to ask for? No, it’s not, but I’m not a divine being with a logic that defies reason. Hey, Great and Powerful It, if you need someone to reorganize your message delivery system, I’ll do it. Let’s streamline the process and make the message self-evident to us, mere mortals.
And now we wait to see if I get struck by lightning or transported to some unholy place. Telling God what to do can’t be a good idea, right? Isn’t it blasphemous or something like that? With all due respect— because that always makes it better— I’m just asking for a better delivery method. Your current one is baffling.
It’s like one of those math problems in school. If Dave has a hundred pies and rides a bike for twenty minutes; how many apples went into the pies? I don’t…What?
Hey look at that! I’m still here, and lightning has manifested inside my home, phew. Let’s add irreverent to my list of contradictions. Deeply spiritual with a bite of cynicism and an edge of irreverence. Oh, and we should also add faithful with a healthy dose of doubt because I ask too many questions.
Not that questioning my faith is a bad thing. I think we all should do it more often. It’s too easy to get complacent in a relationship. That includes the one we have with our own higher power. I get in a routine and start taking God—or whatever you call your spiritual guide— for granted. They’re always there so, I’ll pray later. Or, I develop a certainty in my beliefs until they’re tested, and when they are? That’s when the cracks appear, and my contradictions take over.
When I ask questions, test my beliefs, and search for a deeper understanding? Well, it’s the only way to create a harmonious balance. My contradictions even each out just a bit. Sure my cynicism and doubt come out to play, but they don’t run away with my sanity.
Do you know what I mean? Am I the only one whose personality is in constant conflict with itself? Do you struggle with extreme spiritual cynicism while maintaining a deep need for faith in a power greater than your own?
Recently, my contradictions have been struggling with the concept of miracles. Do they really happen, or is it luck? Would the story have reached this conclusion without prayer, or did we get here because of it? Are miracles manifestations of wishful thinking? A way to make sense of things that seem senseless. A reason to hope when hopelessness is plentiful.
A part of me really wants to believe they’re real. It’s the same part that looks for four-leaf clovers, and wants to have tea with a fairy under a full moon. It’s the part that talks to animals and firmly believes we’re having a conversation. It’s also the part that believes in a higher power that, for many, closely resembles an imaginary friend.
I may be an ardent realist, but I’m also a fervent dreamer. I enjoy flights of fancy and whimsy. More than that, indulging in them is necessary for my mental health. Imagining that there really are unicorns, Smurf’s, God, or the Ogopogo (yes, that’s a thing) makes me smile. It gives me a sense of peace and calm when the madness takes over. Believing that miracles are real and it wasn’t simply chance?
Well, if little blue cartoon people can give me peace of mind, you can imagine what miracles can do for my sanity.
Still, in moments of quiet solitude, like now, I wonder if I’m being too indulgent. Have my dreams spent too much time with wishful thinking? Perhaps it’s time to come back to the real world. My inner Realist clears its throat, waves its hand and says, “Pardon me, I hate to be a bother, but we need to have a word in private.” It might be pretentious, but my Realist is nothing if not polite.
Logically, my Realist lists all the reasons why we weren’t saved by some deity. Enlightenment and the pursuit of knowledge, my good friend, led to the invention of modern medicine. Centuries of tireless research have brought forth wisdom and have led to innovations in life-saving technology. Knowledge, not faith, spared a life.
See, it’s kind of pompous and a tad bit condescending.
Then again, I can’t tell you how many times medical professionals have said, “You shouldn’t be alive right now.” It’s a weird thing to say, and it’s oddly threatening. Or I’ve been watching too many crime shows, and I have an overactive imagination. Let’s give them the benefit of the suspicion and say that it’s just a peculiar thing to say.
You should’ve died, you know.
Uh, oops? My bad? I’ll try harder next time? What do you want me to say? How do I respond to that? Yeah, but you’re not wrong.
Do you know what the survival rates are for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest? For the record, I’m talking about a heart that stops beating and not a heart attack. The two are different but often interchanged. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, life has ended. Blood and oxygen aren’t circulating through the system. The system has completely shut down.
So, what are the odds of a reboot? As of 2020, if it happens outside of a hospital, survival is 10.8%. That number goes up to 20% if you’re in the hospital. I’ve had five cardiac arrests over my lifetime. At least one was out of the hospital. I’m not great at math, but the odds were never in my favour, yet here I am.
Is that a miracle, luck, science, or destiny? Am I asking the wrong question? Maybe I should be asking if it matters? What’s in a name when it’s the outcome that matters?
I was going to leave at that because it doesn’t really matter what we call it, but it also kinda does. Doesn’t it? The distinction feels necessary because I need to know that the miraculous is still possible amidst science, luck, a pure happenstance. I need it like I need to drink enough water every day or sleep enough hours.
Without it? Life feels chaotic and hopeless.
Miracles offer hope when everything is falling apart, and the odds aren’t in your favour. When the doctors call and say that someone you love might not make it through the night? When, by all accounts, you should’ve died a dozen times over? When you have everything to lose and everything to gain, but nothing is going your way?
For me, saying a prayer and believing in the possibility of divine intervention gives me something to hold onto. Even if the miracle doesn’t come? At least the darkness, the hopelessness, didn’t consume me. To be honest, somedays that might be a miracle in itself.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the last few months, then you know that someone I love was in the hospital fighting for their life. We almost lost them more times than I can count. It felt hopeless, and I was preparing my heart for a devastating hit.
Last week, after over seventy days in the hospital, they came home. They have a long recovery and more treatments, but they’re alive. The best part for me, for the first time in months, I got to sit with them, hug them, and laugh like old times. We spent the afternoon together, and it was miraculous.
There’s no other word for it. Modern medicine and divine intervention merged together. Faith and logic worked in tandem. Science and religion converged, and together they created a miracle. One without the other wouldn’t have worked. We needed both, and when these seemingly contradicting entities came together? We got a hefty dose of hopeful wonder.
We try to separate the two and put them up against each other in a battle royal. I do it too, but I’m coming to the realization that these two ideas are strange bedfellows, not enemies. I need to stop battling the contradiction and let them work together. I’d go one step further and say they have to work together. One without the other isn’t as powerful.
Despite a long history of fighting each other, science and faith are at their best when they unite their differences. Whether that’s a belief in God or some other spiritual force, they’re better off together. Ancient and modern medicine can coexist. The supernatural and the age of reason don’t have to be exclusive, and they don’t have to be enemies.
After all, we want the same thing in the end. We want a miraculous outcome and a reason to keeping hoping.