I want to start this blog by saying first and foremost I am not attacking faith, hope, love, or the individuals right to believe whatever they feel in their heart.. However, this will come off as a jab at religion in general. I don’t mean to offend, I’m merely sharing my experiences involving religion and the church. I encourage believers and non-believers alike to keep an open mind.
This is a before, during, and after story about my time in the church.
I have always had a spiritual nature about me. I believe we all do, it’s inherent. Some people are content with accepting that we can’t know for sure why we’re here and what for, but I and others like myself need something more than that. The pressure to ease my nerves on the issue of life after death became so intense that it was as if my survival and sanity depended on reaching a conclusion!
I remember as a kid I would have thoughts about eternity that would bring on panic attacks and I’d have sleepless nights of wondering and worrying about what happens after you die.
It wasn’t until I was 15 that I was introduced through a friend to Christianity.
It flipped my world upside down.
Not only did I feel this overwhelming sense of clarity being able to finally answer the million dollar questions in my life, but I went from being an everyday teenage hooligan to a christian poster boy. I sang in the church band on Sunday mornings, read my bible almost daily and surrounded myself with people who were “like minded” Christians. I even transferred from a public high school to a private Christian school.
For years all seemed right in the world. There were still those doubts that would leer their ugly heads once and a while, but I wrote them off as either God testing my faith or the devil using the usual tactics to turn me to the dark side. You know the classic doubts; dinosaurs, Noah’s ark and the flood, Jonah and the whale, Moses parting the red sea.. And that’s just the old testament.
Around this same time I was starting to feel under constant scrutiny by the church, like I was being monitored to see what a good or bad Christian I was being all the time. I started to see how unfair and how unrealistic the standards of the church are and how those standards can lead someone to surrounding their life in feelings of extreme guilt, fear and allowing no room in their life for being an individual. This led me to question what really made Christianity any different than any other religion.
All religions, when you get down to it, are just different interpretations of how/why we’re here and what for.
Christianity (especially in America) is the most popular, the most tolerated, and pretty damn rich. Just because something has more followers doesn’t mean it’s any more right (i.e. Justin Bieber, Jersey Shore, so on and so forth).
The point is, I had come to a crossroads in my life.
There was never a finite moment in time when I denounced my faith and never looked back, but over time I started to see a very distinct line between religion and spirituality.
We don’t NEED to subscribe to a certain religion in order to experience or feel spiritual or even experience the supernatural. What we NEED to do as a species is start taking joy and comfort in the fact that we’re not alone in feeling like there is something more to this all. I wish we were able to share our love and appreciation for one another’s religious beliefs, but as history has showed us, it doesn’t really work like that.
It doesn’t matter if you were born in America, Uganda, Iraq, India, China or wherever! It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, republican or democrat! The fact remains that we’re all here together and we all feel, something. God, the universe, whatever it is we can all agree on a presence of some sort or some kind of feeling we get when contemplating the universe and our existence.
I know it might sound ambitious, even cliché and probably really sacrilegious, but I believe we need to seriously reconsider religion in general if we wish to achieve peace on earth. We’re moving toward a future in technology that is either going to prove extremely beneficial scientifically, educationally, medically and peacefully.. Or prove to destroy us with our also advanced military technology in the hands of either religious extremists or even in the hands of a country itself hiding behind religion to justify war. You can tell me that’s a crazy prediction, but it’s happened before.
Bottom line, I see that religion helps people and there are those who find joy and a peaceful life in their religion, but I strongly urge you to consider that maybe it’s not so much the religious message that helps, but the fact that we can be apart of one. Having that sense of belonging that one can feel when involved in a church is a sense of belonging that we could extend worldwide if we weren’t limited to the confines of our different religious messages.
Get hip to the fact that whatever you believe in, there is someone somewhere who feels just as strong if not stronger for their beliefs. It’s not a matter of you being right and them being wrong, but more like you’re both right and you’re both wrong. All you have to do is remove religion from the equation to see that.