Thursday 9 April 2015

Crisis of Faith: Losing and Finding Religion

In the process of writing my book, my summary for therapy and just random conversation, I thought about my crisis of faith and how strongly I was committed to religion growing up.

Truthfully I'm not sure if I ever really believed everything I was being told. I was always more excited for play time or to go home and watch whatever was on TV. When I was at church it was always just some guy on stage reading from a really old book that people took seriously and recycled the same thing over and over again.

I was taught that homosexuality was bad although after watching a few episodes of Will and Grace I wasn't entirely convinced by the argument.

I was taught that premarital sex was wrong, the number of times it was repeated made me think that it was worse than anything else that was considered a sin. Sure you can murder someone, just don't fornicate beforehand!

I was taught that alcohol, drugs and swearing were to be avoided despite the alcohol in the wine which represented Jesus' blood. Drugs were an obvious one, but sometimes swearing just felt too good not to do.

There were countless other things which I've since let go of because they were just ridiculous to me and I saw no point in following something which was about someone else having control over you rather than following the bible's teachings.

When I went to TAFE in year 11, I met some of the most amazing people and it completely changed my life. There wasn't anything specifically special about them except that they made me feel special. For the first time in my life I was good enough. I was accepted. And I was finally able to just be me.

After all the years I spent in church and feeling like an outsider, it was amazing to finally feel what I'd always longed to feel. Free.

The more time I spent with people at TAFE, the more my world was broadened, thoughts challenged and beliefs questioned. Everything I'd been told had come from a close-minded source and I was in an open-minded environment where it wasn't black and white any more.

During that time I was trying to process a lot of other things which I'd never experienced before and wasn't sure how to deal with. I caught up with my aunt (dad's sister) for a sleepover. She had always been my personal hero and saving grace. I could talk to her about things that I couldn't talk to my parents about and although she didn't always give me specific advice, it was always filled with love and positivity, two things I was short of in my own life.

Around the age of 17, after finishing that TAFE class and spending time questioning family and religion with my aunt, I really started struggling with what I'd been told and how true any of it actually could be.

It felt so wrong to be told that people who didn't have hope for Jesus to return were unhappy and basically doomed for eternity when the people I knew who didn't care about religion were happier than any of the people that I'd known in church. How could that possibly be?!

Everyone else was living life on their own terms and loving it as much as possible. The people at church were living their lives for God and saw anything else as being wrong and some kind of selfish.

The more I went to church with conflicting beliefs, the worse I felt for having done so. How could the only time I'd ever felt accepted be wrong in the eyes of God? If I continued following this religious path which I'd rarely found happiness on, would God seriously be pleased that I was miserable at obeying his commands? None of that seemed right.

I made the decision one day to tell my dad that I didn't want to go to church any more because I didn't believe in it. I told him my aunt had said that religion had divided his family and I couldn't possibly be a part of something that had the power to destroy a family.

My aunt had given me photo albums of my grandparents when they were younger and some of the love letters and whatnot my grandfather had written her. He had been madly in love with her, yet I was living in an almost post-apocalyptic world where I saw my grandfather maybe once or twice a year before my grandmother died and even less afterwards. If a religion and its people were capable of doing that kind of damage, I wanted nothing to do with them.

For a while I searched out answers in different places which made more sense to me. My aunt's influence had lead me to try angel cards and I had been completely blown away with the result. She never pushed anything on me or told me not to go to church, she merely opened her home and a part of her life to me and showed me how beautiful freedom could actually be. It was like a massive breath of fresh air I'd never known before.

I started to get more into spirituality over the years and eventually found a group of people who share similar interests to me. The main difference I've found is the lack of judgement spiritual people have and how much positivity there is. The basis of it is living your best life and doing what makes you happy. Seeking angelic wisdom for guidance is part of the fun.

The feeling of hope and lightness that I've heard people speak of when they go to church is what I feel when I'm around spiritual people. It's happy, it's friendly, it's loving, it's free.

I still have no interest in attending church services and when I meet my parents for lunch on the odd Sunday after the services, I tend to either wait outside or thereabouts until I know they're ready to go and I don't have to listen to anything that demeans my newly found positive nature.

It's great to hope for something, and I know clinging to hope that all the evilness and nastiness will be wiped away one spectacular day and everyone who is worthy will live forever and forever together, but my hope was always that I'd make something big of myself, I'd made a difference in the world and ultimately, that the hell that I lived in would be escapable and I'd finally know what it was to be truly free.

Even though I have an endless list of reservations about religion, my family still attended regularly but I can see that it's not doing wonders for them as people. In losing religion I found myself, that's some crisis of faith.

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