Faith and Religion: My Personal Journey

In Good Faith

Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.

My family was not full of faith, they didn’t go to church on Sundays, they didn’t do devotionals, and we didn’t talk about God. I went through a short period of terror where I was worried my parents wouldn’t go to heaven and they were damned to hell, but it passed. I could do this post about spirituality, but I’ve been meaning to talk about some of my history with religion, so this seems to be a good post to do it in.

At the age of two, I was going to Awana with my babysitter and sometimes church on Sunday. While my parents didn’t go, this church was a family tradition. My great-grandfather was a deacon (I always incorrectly assumed this was equivalent to a pastor) and my dad used to go to the church as well. While they weren’t religion, they were traditional, so it only made sense for me to go too. I went to Awana from 1st grade (Sparky) to 7th grade (a year over what I was supposed to and this was called TNT). There wasn’t much going on during these years. When we first heard the talk of being saved, I was seriously disturbed. What I remember is rushing home and praying to God to ask him in my heart. I had no clue what I was saying, but I didn’t want to go to Hell. That’s for sure. My mom remembers me coming home and freaking out about it. She said she worried about sending me back because I was so scared. I don’t remember this, but I could believe that it happened.

My AWANA and Youth Group days were pretty great. I met my best friend in fifth grade and we went through Youth Group together too. During this period I didn’t question God or my faith that much. I was always moved during worship time. I loved it when my leaders talked to us. They were like a second family and still some of my favorite people. About this time in high school though I started to seriously question my faith. I think this is an important period for everyone and it should happen because there’s a possibility of bringing oneself closer to God. For me, it didn’t work out that way.

For me, I never subscribed to some of the beliefs that many Christians seem to have that tie in with politics. I can’t think of a time when I thought people who loved  to same sex were bad. I remember the first time hearing about it and I thought it was weird, but I got over that as I got older. There was never a time where I could believe that God would condemn somebody for love when they weren’t taking another life. If a murderer could be forgiven, why not somebody who was gay?

This common belief of condemning homosexuals to Hell didn’t shake me out of my religion. What ended up starting that was the thought of why would God create a world and have people worship Him? None of us asked to be created, we just were. I think of this in comparison to my parents. I never asked to be born, but here I am existing. I respect my parents and am quite happy that I was born (I think, it’s hard to think about yourself not existing because than none of these thoughts would exist and would it really matter?). Though I respect them, I don’t think it would be okay for them to kill me off or disown me because I didn’t make the choice they wanted me to make. Disowning a child is horrible to me. The Bible says when one of his children make a bad decision He cries. My mom would cry if I made a bad decision and went to jail. The Bible also says God has a plan for each and every one of us. It also says humans were given free will (humans versus elves in Tolkien? Anyone?) making it so we can make decisions though there’s a plan supposedly made for us. All of this is confusing and I’m sure somebody who studies the Bible could explain it to me and it might not be full of contradictions, but this is just my basic understanding. So my faith started to waver. Why would something create people so they would only worship that person? Especially considering that being gave people free will. We have the right to make bad decisions but doing that will damn us to hell just like choosing heroin can damn us to death. My analogies are getting mixed.

So overall this is where I am today. I would not go so far to say I’m an atheist or even agnostic. Maybe it’s because of my childhood or the idea of tradition. I know the last time I clearly remember praying is when my brother’s girlfriend had her baby and he didn’t survive. This is important because that’s when I can remember truly having faith. It’s not important in the loss of faith. I understand that God can place hardships because there’s always a reason. That’s something I never questioned.

There’s a lot of rambling here as anyone who talks about religion, faith, or spirituality will do. This is my opinion though and I’m not sure if I’ll ever untangle the web. I probably will send my kids to AWANA because I found so much value to it both in this world and in God’s. What I do hope though is that they will always question (such as my sixth grade question of ‘what about the dinosaurs?’ Did I get a straight answer? Nope.) and understand that love is there and just as long as it’s not harming somebody and they understand that there are parameters. Maybe all of this stuff is just worldly and I should forget about it, but I exist and so do these thoughts.

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