I’ve only prayed five times in my life. When my grandmother died, when my parents divorced, when my great grandfather died, when my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and when I had my heart broken for the first time.
And it didn't change anything. It didn't change the outcome. My grandparents still passed away. My parents still separated. My mother may still die from a new brain growth. And my heart still aches.
It really only did one thing for me. It did make me feel better. I felt better after I got it all off my chest. I felt like I had just revealed all of my deepest thoughts to a close friend. And it helped me cope with the loss I had been feeling. After this, I've come to the conclusion that organized religion isn't my thing. And I believe that is 100 percent okay.
All my life I have struggled with my faith. My mother was raised Southern Baptist, my father a Catholic. My stepfather is Jewish while my godfather is Muslim. At the core of all of these religions, I can’t find anything all that different, but at the same time, they are worlds apart. They’re all still my family. And their beliefs will never change that.
As a young child, my parents never threw prayers at me. No before dinner prayers, before bed, nothing. And I never saw anything wrong with that. I still don’t. They let me decide for myself and part of me is still trying to figure all of that out. It wasn't until I went to my best friend’s house in the third grade when I was introduced to this concept of prayer. It was all so strange and new to me. At the time, I didn't understand it. So, I asked her. I asked her what she believed in and why her family prayed all the time. It seemed so trivial and useless. That night she explained to me that her family had strong Christian beliefs. She told me about Heaven and Hell, Sunday school, and Jesus. I was so confused. So, the next day I tagged along. Sitting in that Sunday mass, stained glass windows glimmering above the pastor’s verses, it didn't help me at all. In fact, it made me even more confused. This was all too much for a nine-year-old. I didn't think about my beliefs again for another six years.
For four years I took gruesome Catholic theology courses at my high school. None of which made sense to me. If anything it completely turned me off from the whole idea of organized religion. I liked bits and pieces of their faith, helping those less fortunate. But I absolutely despised the fact that they do all of this in return for eternal life.
I disagreed with their views on homosexuality and divorce among other things. There are just so many things that I cannot bring myself to push aside and follow organized religion.
Granted, I am no religious expert. Far from it. But I do know one thing and that is we all have complete freedom in choosing what to believe. Isn't that a basic human right? Complete freedom in believing whatever we choose?
I want to believe in a higher power. I do believe in a God. And I'm still trying to figure out what that God is and it may be different than your God. And that’s okay.
I continue to respect people from all different religious backgrounds. I am a firm believer in people’s freedom to choose their faith path. This is simply my story, not intended to offend anyone.