As a young adult that is trying to find my voice in this world, something that I've been struggling with is faith.
As someone that grew up going to church, has been baptized, confirmed, attended Sunday school and even taught her own Sunday school class– I still don't know if I believe in the God I was raised praying to.
I've struggled with truly believing in a religion and it's something I've been ashamed to admit.
I'm not an atheist, but I'm not a devoted follower of a religion.
I identify as spiritual because I do believe there is something bigger out there– but I don't believe in confining to one religion.
I come from a Christian family. I've lost track of how many Bibles, crosses and Jesus-related trinkets I have been gifted with over the years. Because of this, identifying as a Christian was an expectation, and never a discussion.
I think the discussion of religion can be problematic, which is why many choose to avoid it. Whether it's because of stigmas, lack of acceptance or stereotypes, I feel that people who question dominant religions are afraid to express their thoughts and feelings.
I also think that people are fearful of what others may say. Personally, I am confused and overwhelmed by the subject of religion. I feel as if I should follow one religion because it is expected of me and my family does, but I have never been a person to do one thing just because I am "supposed" to.
If I were to go to church every Sunday I want it to be because I want to worship and grow my faith– not because it's something I am forced or supposed to without purpose.
I want to stand by all of the decisions I make, and I have that same desire if I were to follow a religion.
I think it's important to be independent and make choices that are best suited for your perspective, how you choose to live life and make you happy.
I don't associate my struggles with believing in a religion as a result of a negative church experience. The church I have been a member of since birth is progressive and welcoming to people of all races, sexual orientation, and denominations. Many of the people of the church I attended are as kind-hearted, giving and humble as you can humanly be.
I also don't solely associate my struggles with religion because of the bigots that use their beliefs as an excuse to be discriminatory and intolerant to those different than them– although I do completely disagree with their ignorance and think they should keep their damn opinions to themselves. Ironically, I was taught the 'Golden Rule' in Sunday school: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" –– a lesson they must've missed out on.
The truth is, I can't really give an exact reason that explains why I don't faithfully believe in a religion.
I don't question religion because of science vs. creation, because the worst things always happen to the best people or because I can't understand why there is so much evil in the world.
I'm very much a person that is all in or all out. It's not in my character to half-ass anything, and that includes following a religion.
From what I've been taught, faith is something you can develop at any phase of life. Everyone's journey of faith is different.
Personally, if I am going to have a faith journey, I want it to be something that evolves naturally, and not something I was forced into.
At this point in my life, I want to remain open-minded to understanding and learning about all kinds of ways of life– including different ways to have faith.
"Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives." - Brene Brown