The little girl I was, and the woman I am today, are two different people. One followed a path that she was forced to walk on, and one thinks for herself and sees the bigger picture.
I identify now as agnostic. In a nutshell, agnosticism is the belief that no human being can be certain of the existence of a God nor the supernatural realm. Agnostics neither believe or disbelieve in a higher being and feel the truth can never be known by any mortal.
I view the entire world, not just the supernatural, through that lens. I view a few things as definitive. I feel a strong yes or no belief to certain issues is unrealistic. I like to look at everything in my life from both sides.
It might surprise you then, that I was raised as a Christian. And not only a Christian, but one of Jehovah's Witnesses. They not only believe in a God but believe he is the creator of everything and has had an active part in mankind since our creation. That is a stark contrast from not being certain that he even exists.
So, what happened?
I was practically born into the religion. My paternal grandparents were extremely devout, and my parents lived with them. So naturally, I was going to meetings very young and learning all of the Bible stories by heart. I enjoyed learning these things as a kid. The stories were captivating. The people at the Kingdom Hall (this is their "church") loved my brother and I. We were little ministers of Jesus in training.
I had no idea what I was in for.
After my parents' divorce, my father moved us out to the Midwest, and a few years later my grandparents followed suit. My father left our spiritual upbringing to our grandmother. And she did not allow anything to deter us from the faith.
Not only did we have school five days a week, and of course homework, we also had our spiritual work. Two or three study books were for our Thursday night meetings, two magazines were for Saturday morning field service (going and knocking on doors) and another magazine was for our Sunday meeting. There was also additional material as well that was always rationed in, plus the reading material for our meetings was always changed.
So not only did we have to deal with being the "weird Jehovah kids" at school, but it seemed we never got a break. School on Monday through Friday, followed by homework and spiritual work, then going and knocking on people's doors for two hours on Saturday morning. Then an hour and a half meeting on Sunday morning. Oh, I forgot about the midweek meeting.
It was tough for me, to live that heavily religious lifestyle. I hated talking to strangers. I hated not being able to hang out with my friends from school because they weren't Jehovah's Witnesses. I hated not being able to call my mom to wish her Happy Mother's Day, and I hated not being able to celebrate my birthday. I loved Christmas lights, but I never saw them in my house. More than anything, I hated not being able to think for myself.
My grandma was just doing what she thought was best, and it was her beliefs and it made her happy. However, I realized as I grew that I was not cut out for this life. I was not truly happy doing this. And I began to question if I believed in God because I truly felt it, or because everyone else did.
I wanted to celebrate the holidays. I wanted to be normal. I didn't want to talk to people I didn't know. I wanted to hang around people I actually had something in common with, and not just being religiously affiliated. So, I got my chance to flip the script when I moved back in with my mother when I was 15.
I did things that were normal to everyone else, but that I was just experiencing for the first time. I celebrated my 16th birthday and had my first kiss. I made friends and went to their house to hang out. I got to sleep in on the weekends. The only work I had to worry about was school. I could breathe. It was great.
At 21, I wrote a letter to the congregation I grew up in, stating that I was unmarried and pregnant. I also stated that although it was a lovely organization, it did not make me happy and that I was not worthy of it. I am no longer considered one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
I haven't looked back. Yes, I return occasionally to meetings, and it feels familiar. However, I also attend church on Sunday with my family here. Just because I personally do not believe that a God can be definitely known, I still find comfort being surrounded by those that believe in God with their whole heart. Most importantly, I am happy that I can finally make my own decisions regarding my spirituality or lack of. It is uplifting to believe in something, and I believe in the power of choice.
Do I pray occasionally? Yes. Do I have points where I believe in something more? Absolutely. However, I flip flop so much and I question everything entirely too much to be anything but agnostic. Some people ask me if my healthy life and my healthy child are enough evidence of a creator for me. No, it isn't. The fact that this earth is in such bad shape, and the fact that people are dying and children are starving, leads me to ask what higher power would pick and choose who suffers, and who doesn't.
That is just my belief at this point. Could it change? Of course, it can. At this moment, I am a free spirit who believes in allowing people to think how they please.
I praise Jehovah's Witnesses for their drive and their dedication to their faith. It makes them happy, and I think that's awesome. I just didn't have that love for it. And if it turns out that I turned my back on the truth, then I will deal with that when my time comes.
For now, I will relax on the couch in my Christmas socks on a Saturday morning, and not miss a thing.