I wonder about the existence of That Higher Power whenever I have an erection. As an adult man, I still find it amazing to see the size difference between a resting and an erect penis. They can be very different! And everytime I notice this, I always ask myself: who could possibly design this?
I laughed when I heard those train of sentences came out of a friend. That particular friend is not religious. He celebrates religious festivals and practice some religious rituals whenever he feels like it, but not religious. So for me, it is incredibly interesting to hear him talk about That Higher Power in a matter-of-factly, about a subject that is so intriguing. It made me think about writing something about God or That Higher Power.
That friend’s sentences made me think really hard. I do believe in God, I do believe that God has a higher power that can turn something upside down. But when do I think about God? When do I feel God’s presence the strongest? What exact moment makes me genuinely thankful for That Higher Power?
That’s when I started to rethink about my whole life, in a fast forward motion. When? What? How? Who? Whom? Why?
Then I was reminded of a moment when I was trying to catch a flight to Lombok, back in 2012. It was a trip for my field work; I got everything arranged and appointments had been made. I was excited, I left home 3 hours before my flight and I should have had plenty of time before I had to board the plane. This was back when the express toll road from my parents’ house to the airport was yet to be built, so I had to take the “normal” route. Unfortunately, in Jakarta, “normal” route means unpredictability. Right after we hit Jakarta’s centre, traffic built up. I was sitting uneasily- I remember my butt was sweating crazily. After two hours on the road, I got closer to the airport but the traffic was not moving. I started to pray. I do not remember my exact prayer, but I remember being panicked and asked That Higher Power to help me make the flight. I somehow got to the airport, I ran to the check-in counter, ran again to my plane, and eventually sat on my seat. That was when my heart rate calmed down and I reminded myself to breathe. I could not believe I made the flight. As my plane took off, I prayed again. I remember praying for the health and success of my driver, as well as thanking That Higher Power for making me board that plane. I never was religious a person, but that race to the airport made my faith stronger.
I was in Kenya doing an internship and one day I had to go outside my village to do some work. I knew that I had to go back before the sun down but the work got delayed. My driver told me that we either had to drive back by relying on the old-fashioned GPS navigation gadget or camp out in the car. I panicked and didn’t know what to do. I had no clue about the GPS thingy, but I decided to give it a go. Somehow, beyond my power and ability, I managed to direct my driver back to the village using that GPS gadget stuff. Clearly, there was some mysterious higher power that saved me then, because if you ask me how the GPS dingie works now, I wouldn’t be able to explain it to you.
Very recently, I had the unfortunate privilege to listen to another story of a failed relationship due to the difference in religions. I died a little bit inside. These failed relationship stories made me speechless. How can we, as a whole species of human being, strive to become more and more progressive but always stumble upon something that is essentially so primitive?
Each of this failed relationship story always reminds me that life is so damn unfair. Many of us were born into a religion. Many of us never have the liberty to choose our own religion. Many of us would be harshly disowned by our families if we dare to change religion- some might be rudely condemned just for thinking about the possibility of changing it.
I have had my share in being involved in a failed relationship due to different religious backgrounds. It hurt like hell. It still hurts now if I force myself to think about all the ‘what could have been’s. I remember my own experiences- I remember trying to put the blame on someone, or something, because I could not – still cannot – understand why it is so complicated for people with different religions to be together in a successful partnership without someone sacrificing something. The saddest part was that I could not put a blame on someone or something. I was forced to accept that “that’s just the way it is”. Or rather, “that’s just the way society works”.
I was really down after a break-up so I turned to Allah. I heard many stories that if you ask God for something, you have to be specific. So I started a list about the kind of partner that I would like to have and one of them was, “I want him to be a Muslim who likes to drink beer”. I know it’s weird, because God forbids me to drink alcohol- like at all; it’s haram. What do you know? Alhamdulillah, not long after I continuously prayed, I reconnected with an old friend whom I knew from college. I took a chance with him and I ended up ticking the specific list I have one by one, including the point about him liking beer. That’s when I believe that there is a God and that God is Allah and Allah is listening to my specific prayers.
I think about God or That Higher Power and religions a lot lately. I mean, how can I not? Trump is being the least anti-semitic person we’ve all ever seen and then there’s his Muslim ban. The rise of the far-right leaders in Europe is being very apparent nowadays and their effort in creating stricter laws that would make it easier for them to reject refugees are predictable. Then, of course, there’s the never-ending blasphemy trial that Ahok and the remaining sane people of Indonesia have to suffer through. Tell me, how can I not think about God or That Higher Power after all that?
Someone told me that I should stop worrying about things I cannot do anything about. The USA is crumbling down and I cannot do anything about it, so I should stop worrying about it. The whole continent of Europe seems to be going backwards, well maybe they are bored of their advancement and decide to shake things up a bit, and I cannot do anything about it, so I should stop worrying about it. Heck, I cannot even do anything about Ahok because even though I eat, work and shit in Jakarta, legally I’m not a Jakartan, so I should stop worrying.
I was running late for work, so I stepped on the gas, naturally. I was really close to the school where I teach, when a kid, didn’t see where they were going, walked towards my car, like asking for me to run them over. I hit the brake just in time. I was in shock, the kid as well. I drove slowly to my parking spot, clocked in, found the kid whom I almost hit – or who almost hit my car – and I gave them a stern talking to. That morning, when I was really hard on the gas but managed not to damage the kid or my car, that was when I believe in a higher power. It makes me believe in a league of guardians, basically a force of goodwill that balances the scales of events.
My contemplation and discussion with friends about God or That Higher Power makes me conclude something: it seems like my faith in God or in That Higher Power is the strongest when I’m helpless, when I can’t do anything anymore, when I run out of option. This might not be ideal and I am extremely far from being a more religious person or a better believer in my own faith. I acknowledge that I seem extremely opportunistic, but I dare you to find a human being who is not – no, Mother Teresa cannot be included in the ballot.
One thing that I keep believing is that my belief in God and the strength of my faith is an extremely personal matter. I am sure someone will come up to me after this post is published and they will ask questions such as, “penis?! How can penis and erection remind you of God! What a pervert! Why not remember God when you breathe and realise that your lungs, your nose and your trachea are the works of God?” I may hear or read some similar comments, but many will be well-kept in the readers’ minds. To them, I say, “fuck off!” How my friends and I remember God or That Higher Power is our own personal matter. If you have some other way to remember God or That Higher Power, write about it on your own.
I had terrible skin growing up- acnes all over. Desperately, I prayed to God every day for a year, I specifically asked for better skin. Miraculously, at the end of the first year, my skin got better, just by itself. I didn’t go to a skin doctor, didn’t use any skin care products. I only prayed for one whole year- and it worked. That’s when I believe in God and in prayers.
A friend whom I have known for a long time, who happens to be a confirmed atheist, once argued that the most important thing in regards to the matter of God or That Higher Power and religion is not the rituals that we practice every day. But it is whether we remember God or That Higher Power constantly and we show our gratitude for everything. I am telling you, I know that my friend is an atheist, but I believe in what my friend said more than anything any preacher had said to my face in the last 10 years.
So whether you remember God or That Higher Power when you have an erection, or when you look at your flawless skin, or when you are getting wasted, or when you almost hit a person but did not, or when you think you were going to miss your flight but did not, or when you think you are going to end up dying in an African desert, or however or whenever it is, I respect you.
Or maybe you never remember God or any Higher Power because you believe that everything can be explained by science, I respect you too.