My Journey To God

My Journey To God

"I refuse to kneel or pray, I won't remember you that way"
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I didn't find God the way most children find God. I didn't grow up being woken up on Sunday mornings, dressing up and sleepily going to mass. I didn't even grow up in a house where church was attended on the major holidays, where mass was long and hot and everyone is dressed up. I grew up in a household where religion was decided upon individually, rather than being forced. The relationship I found with God came through struggle, loss and, surprisingly, music.

In July of 2015, I lost my Nani. My Nani was my great-grandmother on my father's side, and she was the light of everyone's life. She was the smallest person I have ever met, but she had a big personality. She sat upon her throne in the living room, alternating between telling my mom and me about every aspect of her day that week and ordering us around as she "made us dinner." Making us dinner usually either meant us doing all the work or my Uncle Rick coming over with many pizzas. She was incredibly religious. She used to make me yearn for some form of religion in my life. My Nani was incredible, an Italian immigrant who was so forward thinking and strong that she was far ahead of her time.

In August of 2015, as we drove down to her services, The Wonder Years' song from their newest album came on. The Wonder Years had been there for me since middle school. Those lyrics weren't a quiet conversation about feeling depression bury itself in your bones, but they were realistic beyond belief. The song that came on, as we drove down to her services? "Cigarettes and Saints." I have never before felt tears well up in my eyes before the song even started.

"And I refuse to kneel or pray, I won't remember you that way." [...] "I'm sure there ain't a heaven, but that don't mean I don't like to picture you there. I bet you're bumming cigarettes off saints. And I'm sure you're still singing, but I'll bet that you're still just a bit out of key. That crooked smile pushing words across your teeth."

I spent most of the funeral service not praising God but instead cursing him. Why would a God who was supposed to be merciful take away the most incredible woman I ever had the pleasure to know? To love?

But what I learned was the important thing. After I healed, my grief subsiding, I realized that everyone needs something to believe in. It took the loss of someone so close to me to realize that as angry as I was, as hopeless and empty as I felt, all I needed was God. If for no other reason (and there were a lot of reasons for me to seek God), the most important was that every time I step into a church, I feel my Nani. I feel her love, her warm smile, and her spirit next to me every time I close my eyes to pray. Finding God kept me connected to my Nani, making it so I never had to say goodbye to someone who was so important in my life.

And so, here I am. This September I will continue to make my Nani proud beyond the grave by going through RCIA, and by next Easter I will be a confirmed Catholic. I'll never have to let go of my Nani.

Cover Image Credit: Kate Marlette

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To Everyone Who Hasn't Had Sex Yet, Wait For Marriage, It's The Right Move

If you have not had sex yet, wait.

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Premarital sex is not a new concept, no matter how much people like to pretend it is. You can trace scripture and historical texts back thousands of year to see that lust and fornication have been a problem since… well, since we humans have been problems.

They tell you in sex ed that sex causes you to form a bond with someone. They throw some big chemical names at you that are apparently in your body and cause that emotional attachment to happen, then you move on (or back to) how important condoms are and why STDs are so scary.

As a middle schooler or teenager, you can't understand what it means to become permanently connected to someone as a result of a quick, physical act.

If you haven't even had your first kiss, you really can't imagine what it's like to develop such a complex and intimate connection with someone because you have yet to feel the butterflies in your stomach from a kiss. So you really don't know what it's like to have a whole different type of feeling in your stomach.

You never forget your first love. It's one of the most cliche things you consistently hear, but it's true. Ask anyone. I guarantee your parents can still spurt out their first love's name in a few seconds. And most people never forget their first time. I know all my friends can recount that often awkward and slightly terrifying moment as if it happened an hour ago. When you mix those two, especially if you are in your teens, oh boy.

You never forget that. No matter how hard you try.

Everything you hear about sex is true: it's amazing, fantastic, life-changing, etc. There's a reason people have done it as frequently as they do, for as long as they have. But every time you sleep with someone, you leave a piece of yourself with them. Every time you choose to take that final physical step with someone, you cannot go back and collect that piece of your dignity and soul that you left with someone.

So, imagine what happens when you break up with someone you've slept with. Or that you just hooked up with. You have given someone a little slice of yourself forever. And you can never get it back. And imagine what happens when you do that multiple times. You give a piece of yourself to five, 10, 15, 20 or more people. Then you meet the person that you want to spend forever with. And you no longer have that whole part of you. You've given pieces away, and you can no longer give those to the love of your life.

So, save those pieces for your future spouse.

If you have not had sex yet, wait. If you have, consider not giving more pieces of yourself away to people who are not your spouse. Sex was created to be between two spouses, nobody else. So we need to try to maintain its integrity.

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I've Never Been to Church, but I Believe in a Greater Being

Written during an existential crisis

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I was raised without religion - not necessarily as an atheist but just had never been involved with a church or any church's teachings. This wasn't particularly any decision on my own part, just how life unfolded from my background. An issue that I've constantly struggled with, as early as when I was in first grade, is how life came to be. Quite often, I've had strong, mentally burdening existential crises land on me - possibly because of the lack of religion in my life. When these crises happen, I think often of religion, and in the possibility of a greater being.

Though I've never spent a day in my life at Church, I've developed my own beliefs in a greater being over the years.

The main reason for this is the irrationality of life. There is no proven explanation for how we came to be. Though we can trace back to a certain point - such as how our person, continent, world, planet, solar system was created, there comes a point when we can't explain any further. Everything comes from something. The first cell split into two cells, which continued to split. But what could have caused the first cell? What could possibly have caused something to come from nothing? There are theories that attempt to explain this, such as a disturbance in the blank universe which created the first cells. But, what caused this disturbance? This is something that I'll never be able to prove or even to wrap my head around.

Beyond this, there are so many other parts in our existence that don't make sense or can't be explained. For instance, in quantum physics, particles will split apart for no apparent reason, but when you put a camera up to watch the particles up close (all factors remaining the same), the particles no longer split. Also, there have been proven variations in the most basic physics laws, such as gravity. But no explanation to explain these small 'mistakes'.

For me, I've considered religion to explain these, and I've also considered conspiracy theories such as the simulation theory. The simulation theory and religion share the idea of a greater being - of a creator. Though I haven't had much experience with religion, I can explain the idea of a creator through the simulation theory. In a nutshell, the simulation theory argues that we are in a simulation - the being simulating our world could be in a completely different universe - perhaps different dimensions, different rules of physics, etc. Whatever their world is, it could be something that we can't even fathom - and it could also be a universe that does make perfect sense. Our universe is riddled with mystery and confusion - what if the greater being's world is one that isn't? To think of this, imagine how in a 2D world, the people living in it would never be able to fathom what it's like to live in a 3D world - what we take for granted. In the same way, we may not fathom what it's like to live in an elevated life. If it's likely that we'll ever be able to simulate life, then we ourselves could be living in simulated life (since that technology can exist). This could offer an explanation for our existence, but we would never know. A similar explanation could also be made with religion.

I read an amazing metaphor for believing in a greater being. Imagine when you were first conceived, and living in the belly of your mother for months. At this point (assuming hypothetically that you're conscious), you would have no idea what's to come next. You may believe that birth is death - it's bringing you into something you've never experienced, and you may think this means disappearing. However, you take a leap of faith and you soon find that birth, in fact, leads you to a new chapter of a life. But of course, you would never have known when you were in the womb, where all you knew was what you were experiencing.

It never hurts to have faith. It grounds you and can help you through rough existential crises. Whatever for the reason for our existence, we most likely will never actually find out - possibly in the afterlife, but no one has lived to tell the tale.

Thanks for reading my thoughts, and musing with me during this existential crises.

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