Religion has always been a touchy subject for me.
As a child, I was forced into Sunday school classes, which I hated with a passion. Even as a child, I didn’t like not having my own opinion, my own say in things that involved me and my life. I didn’t like getting up early on a Sunday to go to school to learn about a book that I was so convinced was a work of fiction. I lived logically, and the bible just wasn’t logical to me. It didn’t make sense to me, none of it made sense to me.
I didn’t understand why I had to memorize prayers, or why I had to recite them, or why I had to go. Church, to me, was a waste of time. Praying didn’t help anybody. HOW COULD A HIGHER BEING, IF HE ACTUALLY EXISTED, HEAR ME AND CARE ABOUT ME ENOUGH TO LISTEN TO ME.
But then I believed. In middle school, a friend of mine took me to her youth group and for the first time, I was exposed to Christianity. It was…different. I wasn’t asked to recite 10 Hail Marys, or confess my sins, or even believe in God. I was taught how to live through guidance that came from that fictional book, and if I was lucky enough, I’d establish a relationship with God, with Jesus. Something personal that I didn’t have to explain to a priest behind a waffle-esque screen. It was suddenly mine and I could control how I believed and how I lived…and the best part? If I didn’t want to get up early on a Sunday morning to go to church, I didn’t have to.
My faith was finally forming, bricks securing a foundation built on trust and lenience. Built on my experiences and my own prayers. It was something beautiful, and it was mine. And I believed in God and I spoke with Jesus, and I was able to express that through worship and music and friendship and happiness. I lived my life the way I wanted to, with guidance from God. I lived for me.
Unfortunately, I’ve since lost that faith. Throughout high school, it faltered and finally broke once I graduated, once I didn’t have a youth group to go to. Once I realized how agnostic I’d become. I needed to see proof, scientific reason–and until I do, I’m unbelieving.
As a woman who’s seen every side of Christianity, I see where it goes wrong, too. I’ve seen friends of mine crumble under it. I’ve seen them so disappointed in themselves, because all they could think about was what God saw them as. I’ve seen this religion fail people, and it honestly hurts to watch.
I have a friend, well…ex-friend I guess now, who is struggling with this. She’s trying so hard to gain her faith back that it’s ruining her as a person. Everything she does is for this God that she is trying to impress, trying to gain forgiveness from. A God that, honestly???? Probably doesn’t exist. She’s pushing people away in her effort to find her faith again and it breaks my heart because she’s doing this all wrong. I support her and her desire to do this, but I wish she could see it my way. If this God is so unconditionally loving, then why does it matter what He thinks of her? Why is she trying to impress Him rather than those around her?
I hate comparing her to other Christians that I know, but I tend to do it. There are people who take their religion and form a lifestyle through it, not around it. They speak and live for themselves, in a way that would make their God proud, instead of living for Him. I can’t cohesively put my thoughts into words right now, but there’s a difference between living for God and living through God. There’s a difference between genuflecting for God, and reflecting God for other people. Some people absorb God’s light for themselves, and others radiate it through to others.
I just hope that if I were to ever regain my faith, I’d live through it rather than for it.