Religion

On Faith and Religion, Part 4

On Faith and Religion, Part 1

On Faith and Religion, Part 2

On Faith and Religion, Part 3

So, here I am – blank. I don’t know if I believe in God. I don’t know if I believe in anything spiritual. I don’t know what I believe in, if anything. As it turns out, and I wouldn’t recognize this until much later, I didn’t know myself.

I contemplated the idea of attending a church, just to explore different beliefs and see what I thought. I realized I still had that tendency to judge some other’s beliefs as wildly inappropriate or psychotic, not because I actually felt that way, but because that is how I had been trained. I knew, though, that my parents would disassociate themselves from me if I did, so I chose not to go because I decided I would rather have that relationship, strained though it may be, than explore my own mind.

I had become increasingly aggravated with living in Florida (I had never wanted to take the risk moving here, I missed my friends, and the heat was (is) oppressive). So, I moved back to North Carolina, thinking I was coming back to myself and all my glory. I bought a house and determined that I was going to meet a good guy, raise a family, be comfortable in my job now that I’d been away long enough to get out of a bad situation, and be happy there for years to come.

Sometimes, you have to go back to the beginning to get a true understanding of yourself and move forward. Sometimes you have to go back to let go.

I was miserable. Within four months, I realized I had made a mistake, albeit a necessary one. I fell into extreme depression. I had no identity. As many times as I had thought I had stopped this, I recognized the deeply ingrained behavior of making decisions out of fear, irrational ones that were not for me, but for others. I determined to get to know me.

I remembered that I had wanted to do wedding planning as a career. I had put the idea out of my head because it would require to me be in churches, places of “false religion.” I remember mentioning this and being praised for my astuteness here. I got in touch with a local wedding planner, started as an intern, and became an employee. It’s a stressful job, but when you have someone tell you that you’ve made the day they’ve been planning for and all of their wishes come true, it’s totally worth it.

I started volunteering at a local art gallery (Craven Arts Council and Gallery in New Bern, NC). I started out reading a poem for one of their events. I hadn’t done this in a very long time out of simple fear of judgement and shyness. The poem I read is Patchwork Heart. The compliments and praise I got inspired me to continue. I became a volunteer at the gallery and moved from docent to board member to Vice President to President in under a year. (See article here.) I got to know some people who had polar opposite and very similar views on religion and I embraced all of them. One of my fellow board members encouraged me to do a Pecha Kucha presentation. For those that don’t know, this is an event where you share 20 slides, 20 seconds each, on a topic of your choice. The slides are meant to be photographs, but I did something slightly unconventional. Finally, I felt comfortable talking about my religious experience and I decided to share that with the town. (Listen to and see the presentation here. You’ll hear my voice!) The response from the crowd was overwhelming. I will never forget this moment: A woman walked up to me, near tears, and said, “Do you help strangers?” She hugged me and thanked me for sharing. I had no idea that sharing my feelings could be so beautiful.

One other thing that came out of the presentation was that I was invited to a Humanist church. And I thought, why the hell not? So, I went. I was also invited to an Episcopalian church. I will say that everyone I encountered was very kind and helpful. But, you know what, organized religion is just not for me. That is what I finally realized. And I was ok with that. I haven’t been to a church since, but I’m happy to have religious/spiritual discussions with friends and strangers as I continue to explore what spirituality means to me.

So, there’s my story. I still don’t know what I believe. But, I think that the audacity to claim that one knows the truth is against what any God of love would teach and so I don’t pretend or claim to know. Is that pride? Maybe. Is that naiveté? Maybe. I don’t really know. I wasn’t there when it all happened. I’m content to go by what I see evidence for and wonder about the rest. It will be revealed in time. Besides, isn’t there excitement in mystery?

What’s your story?

17 thoughts on “On Faith and Religion, Part 4”

  1. when i was a kid we were that weird family that didn’t attend church. i asked my dad why and he said that was for me to decide. i went to every church, mosque, synagogue and buddhist temple i could. spent my days searching for my truth. at the end i was confused about why they were all there. they said the same thing, be cool and others will be cool too. i usually say it bit coarser but this isn’t my page. it felt like that need for an invisible person to watch and make sure i was good was unnecessary to me. when life goes wrong it was probably me. when it goes well it was probably me too.

    i read and fell into philosophical hell. discovered nietzsche at too young of an age. then all around nihilism. once i grew out of that and into embracing my bipolar self i just decided to be the best me at my worst. me and myself don’t get along very well but we are all we have so if i can have my manic days i can survive my rock bottom ones as well. happiness isn’t found in others to me. it is accentuated with them. so i’ll just keep searching for my metaphorical her and take it one day at a time.

    i really enjoyed this journey you shared. thank you for spilling your beautiful guts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing this and thinking my guts beautiful, lol. I’m happy this resonated with you. I find myself feeling existential and nihilistic some days too, but like you, can I’m just trying to be my best self.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing all this with us. I am in the process of writing about my own spiritual journey and plan to publish it in two parts on my blog. I hope you’ll read it. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Of course! I’m glad that you will be sharing also and that my story resonated with you. Please let me know when it’s posted!

      Like

  3. You don’t know where you’re at, I don’t know where I’m at, and that’s okay. We don’t really have to have it pinned down, do we? I used to have it pinned down, I thought, but it got away from me. My story is long. It’s written and on the web, but too personal for my blog. That’s funny considering my blog is mostly anonymous anyway, right? Thank you for sharing your story with us. Maybe we can all help each other write through the next chapter together.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s