For a long time I was confused by the word faith, I thought it didn’t apply to me as I wasn’t a devout church goer, my spirituality was in my heart, I didn’t think faith utilized a person like myself. Growing up I was never raised in a church but went to church on Easter, I remember packing my Grandmother’s clutch with a plethora of hard candies that I would never eat in completion and yet I was determined to pack as many of them full as I could. I remember the mention of God, I remember putting a cracker in my mouth and sipping some juice, but beyond that and the clutch of Grandma’s that was packed with hard candies I don’t remember much else.
Throughout my life I found myself back at church through intervals of age and hardships. These intervals coincided with relationships that sometimes pushed me to be more in touch with my spiritual self and sometimes challenged me to question the validity of me wanting to go. The end result was always the same, I respected the person or persons and their viewpoint but I maintained my spirituality because it kept me grounded in life. But I never felt comfortable claiming a religion because I’m naturally a skeptic, I want to be showed things in life, proven things, I wanted to see it with my own two eyes. I realized that some things just can’t be proven, the logical sensible side of me wants to prove everything, but I’ve seen too many things in my life that can not be explained. I’ve learned through experience that emotions can be willed into positive power and turned into goodness. I’ve learned that faith exists not for a God but for us as humans to get through life with a sense of positiveness to push forward and hopefully do more good.
At a recent church attending I was asked what religion I am with a bout of gusto and wide smile and I smiled back accordingly and said “none”. I was faced with the face of judgement. I just smiled and said “My only goal is to be a better human and continue to be happy.” The woman didn’t know what to do with that because in so many churches that’s not what is taught. Being a devout _________ is what is taught, putting Jesus and your faith above everything else is what’s taught. No one knows what to do with a woman who goes to church from time to time and doesn’t claim a faith. To me the ultimate testament, what life is all about is being a better human with every day that passes and finding happiness in that journey. That’s where I’ve always felt an outsider in the church, or community of God. I’ve sought it out in moments where I’ve needed the bond of community outside of my friends, to help me connect spiritually to answers or feelings. I don’t believe that’s solely what the church is for, I think it’s there at all moments in life to stand by those whom need it and to allow them to do good for others. But I personally find comfort in the teachings that are talked about in church because they fall in line with the basic morals and groundings in my life that I have always lived by and I find comfort in that. How to grow, how to love, how to forgive, how to help, to teach, to learn, to be a better human.
I think the beauty in people that are truly in peace with religion don’t judge based on the attentions that stories in the Bible give but the lessons behind them. It is not in my ability to believe but my ability to learn and be a better human. I’m not sure if I am the person to devout my life to a man named Jesus or to any God, maybe I am too much of a logical skeptic for that, but the grace in spirituality is that it has enabled me to grow, have faith in the process of life and the humans around us even if sometimes some of them let us down. The beautiful thing about having faith in life is that it really just means having faith in yourself and moving forward. There is no shame in believing and no shame in those that don’t believe; the beauty is the middle ground of finding purpose in the love and drive that they both put forth in life.
Since the days of hard candies and clutches I’ve come to understand the real meaning of faith, that the practice of faith is internal. If you choose for it to lay inside of the teachings of a certain religion, then I say do you boo. Do you. Why should anyone knock down someone for utilizing their own methods of practicing to become a better human? I wouldn’t tell someone else to stop going to therapy or stop reading a self help books, would you? But for me, my eternal faith lays in my ability to see and understand other humans and allow those understandings to create a better person in myself with each passing day. The internal skeptic will always remain, but her ability to be taught is ongoing and that’s all one can ask for.
Forever curious, Oni~