Religion Can Mean Something Different For Everyone

Religion Can Mean Something Different For Everyone

When it comes to religion, just like with all things, you need to follow your own path.
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I'm what my dad calls "Catholic Lite." He describes someone as being "Catholic Lite" when they consider themselves Catholic but don't hold to all the obligations and beliefs of Catholicism in the same way that Bud Lite is still considered a beer but without all the calories.

To me being religious, or Catholic for that matter has so much more to do with being a decent human being than going to church on Sunday's or participating in confession. I don't believe in the nonsense that says going to church makes you better than anyone else and I surely don't believe that only good people participate in the sacrament of mass.

I grew up in a mixed religious household. My mother was Catholic and my father was raised Baptist. When I was really young I remember going to church every Sunday with my mother, grandparents, aunt, and cousins. I also went to Catholic schools through elementary and high school.

Having my entire life be based on religion, I began to ask questions that my parents didn't know the answers to and was taught concepts that my parents didn't agree with. As time went on, we all pulled away from the faith. In part, I think I pulled away because I felt that Catholicism was being shoved down my throat giving me no chance to catch a breath and decide what I truly believe.

A couple of things I was taught that I personally don't align with are as follows:

  1. I don't believe in confession. I don't understand the concept of one man bestowing onto another power from Christ to cleanse me of my sins. I would much rather pray in the privacy of my home to our lord and savior asking for forgiveness for my wrongdoings.
  2. I don't believe that only human souls enter heaven. I believe that all living things are Gods children and I don't think he would deem some of his beloved creatures as having souls more important than another's.
  3. I was once told by one of my religion teachers that it was a sin for my parents to be married when they were of different faiths. I don't believe faith has anything to do with marriage. Marriage to me is about love and commitment. My mother went to mass without my father because that was her choice and my father didn't mind at all. I think that's the way it should be. A spouse shouldn't participate in the faith of his or her partner simply because they feel obligated to. When it comes to having children I would say teach them the things you can both agree on and then when the child is old enough present to him your different religious factions and let him choose which he feels more closely drawn to.
  4. So many religious organizations or faith sects preach acceptance but then turn away those who desire to live life differently than them. For example, I went to high school with some individuals who upon graduation came out as homosexual or bi. Some of them were blessed with families who love them for who they are no matter if everything they do aligns with the faith or not. Others were not as lucky and were turned away by their families. I ask you, what is religious about this?
  5. I believe there is more than one way to pray. I don't think I need to kneel, bow my head, and spew some words I memorized when I was 5 because I was forced to for a religion test. I don't consider that true prayer because when I'm spewing these words I don't really mean them. I think a prayer can be a simple thought or heart feeling.

Going to Church on Sundays and participating in the sacraments does not make you a good person in the same way that not going to Church does not make you a bad person. I guess you could say my religion is based on the "golden rule" that I treat others the way I want to be treated; with respect, dignity, and kindness.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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You May Be In A Rush, But God Isn't

It's okay to be still.

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In the world we live in today it seems like being still isn't a thing. Everyone is always on go with slam packed schedules and planners. You go from one thing to the next all day, all week even with little to no break in between all the chaos. We live in a time where if your life isn't like this if you're not constantly doing something from sun up to sun down then you're lazy, unambitious, and not going to make anything of yourself. Okay, I could be slightly over-exaggerating, but people seriously look down on others when they don't fit into the hustle and bustle scheme of life.

It might seem like you always need to be on the go and getting from one thing to the next, but it's okay to take breaks, it's okay to take time to be still. In fact, many times in the Bible God tells us, "be still." In Psalm 46:10 specifically, we're told that God says this, "Be still, and know that I am God." This is short and sweet, but it is a very powerful command that requires trust and a heart for the Lord.

It is so easy to caught up in family and home life situations and financial situations and work or school situations that can cause an unbelievable amount of stress. When you're feeling stressed, exhausted and overworked that's the perfect time for you to be still. Sit in God's presence and remember who He says He is and know that He is exactly that. Bring all that stress and that exhaustion and that worry and frustration and lay it all down in front of Him and be still. Let him carry your burdens like He says He will do for you, his child. It takes trust to just stop and abandon the norm of being a go-getter but the peace of mind and heart that only the Lord can provide is unlike anything in this world and entirely worth it.

When you are always on the go it's so easy to get in a rush because you become so eager to check everything off of your to-do list. Now, I know you just HAVE to get everything done. Don't rush though. Sometimes being still looks like just taking a step back and being completely present in your current moment. Be fully there. Don't constantly be thinking about what's next or what you've missed already. Be still and know that God has gone before you in each and every day. Be still and know that God will fulfill all of his promises to you, even if your to-do list doesn't get completed. Be still and know that there is nothing you can do to sabotage the plan He has set for you.

It's okay to be a busy person. It's okay to get everything on your long to-do list done. It's okay to have late nights and early mornings. It is. But, don't let that consume you. Don't let that be who you are. Be still in God's presence every day, this is our temporary home after all our eternal home is with Him. So trust His plan for you and his timing, know who He says He is, and trust that He will always be that.

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