Photo by Thomas Vitali via Unsplash
I have struggled with faith my entire life. Beyond being baptized by Pastor Wells at the Hollis Ave. Congregational Church when I was a baby, my upbringing did not involve church or religion.
I had that one Italian grandma who was a devout Catholic that would tell me what saint she was praying to and why. She had a crucifix by the door and would make the sign of the cross and then touch it upon entry.
We had one Bible in my house and I think I was more fascinated as a kid with the film-like pages than the actual contents.
Beyond its absence from my life growing up, my religious issues have mostly been cerebral. I think it comes from two things: an inherently analytical mind and a degree in English.
The former makes me question everything, the latter instilled in me the tendency to see The Bible as nothing more than allegory. Tell me you truly believe that there was actually a talking snake, an ark, and a parted sea and you will lose me forever.
Sometimes, it’s best not to think about everything all the time. Nonstop. This is especially hard for someone who is a recovering overthinker.
When you’ve come from that place, letting things be and letting some kind of higher power do what it does is freeing. And terrifying.
Things happen that we just can’t understand. The statement I find most infuriating is when something awful happens and someone says it’s God’s will. I can’t stomach this and it will make me flash angry at God whether I believe in him or not. How dare you exert your will over mine?
I found this especially true when I lost one of my best friends last year to a brain aneurysm. She was a believer and had many people in her life that were churchgoers. I braced myself for the moment someone told me her leaving this world was God’s will. I saw it as nothing more than a travesty.
The same feeling emerged in August when I lost another friend to another massive brain bleed. Still, in quiet moments when the world seems heavy and I can’t make sense of life, I feel compelled to seek direction from something beyond me. Recently, I see this need increasing.
What I’m looking for is comfort and the need to trust in something bigger than me. The hard part is figuring out who or what that is.
In those moments, I understand why people believe in God. It makes sense to me that people pray. There are moments we all feel lost and confused. We’re looking for an outcome in our lives that leads us to the life we know we’re supposed to be living but can’t always see the path there.
Having faith in something is beautiful. There’s a sweet surrender there that holds the letting go that I’m searching for. We find that where we can. For a lot of people, that letting go is called God.
For other people, they assign a vaguer spiritual idea. The Universe. The Power. The Divine. The Source. The Presence. This works but I understand that people want to know exactly who they're talking to and call it by a proper name. God.
I have friends that pray and they’ve told me the sense of relief they get from it. They put what they want and need out there to God and ask God to direct back to them what that is. They give up control of what that looks like and have faith that what comes is what they’re meant to have.
This, to me, is a liberation I’ve never known. I understand why people call it glory.
I’m on the cusp of something spiritual and I don’t know what it is. I’m not ready to call that God. I don’t know if I’ll ever be there. Perhaps if I could move beyond the fire and brimstone it would be easier. Perhaps if I can find the truly accepting and loving side of religion, if that was more prevalent, I could feel better signing up. It’s going to take a heavy amount of thought and learning but it’s about time I did some of that work.