That’s me in the corner…that’s me in the spotlight…losing my religion (R.E.M.)
January 22, 2007 was a monumental day in my life. It was the day I renounced my religion. I was one of those kids raised in the old school way of going to church on Sundays, bible study on Tuesdays, explorers on Thursdays…I didn’t have time to get in trouble, I was busy worshipping a God that had always been elusive to me. I wondered how this God the Reverend spoke of allowed my dad to beat up on me. My father made me start reading the bible when I was four. This was a bedtime ritual until I was eleven. I didn’t understand what I was reading when I was younger and he pushed real hard to help me with enunciation. It wasn’t until I began to understand the implications of what I was reading that I questioned the validity of those stories.
I was afraid of God. I was afraid of hell. I was afraid of doing things that would surely get me cast down into the fiery pits of Hades. In light of that fear, I was a well behaved daughter, a good student in school, and a help to my mother. I was the model child. At seven, the abuse began. God became more and more elusive to me. I questioned “His” existence. The funny thing is, I was way too scared to stop believing in case I was wrong about everything. I didn’t want to risk dying without believing and realizing there is a hereafter and I couldn’t go there.
Nonetheless, on the above mentioned day, I shed my christian bred skin, I renounced the white guy with the white beard, hair, and flowing robes and decided to take my chances. For the first six months I walked around in a perpetual state of fear. I was waiting for that bolt of lightning or terminal illness to grab hold of me and say, “I told you so.” As time passed and the fear ebbed, I began to feel an empty space. I wanted to fill it with something that would give me comfort. I studied different religions and couldn’t wrap my mind around something organized and created to exercise order over the masses.
It’s been over five years now and I still walk by churches wondering if I should step inside. I have a degree of curiousity for people that are so enraptured by the God syndrome that they attribute all great things in their lives to an institution that clearly deprives believers of humane thinking. As much as I want to believe again, I find it hard to put my faith into something that breeds apathy and hatred, causes the downfall of civilizations, judges and murders in the name of faith, and chastises me for not thinking, feeling, and acting upon edicts that are clearly derived to give us comfort before we die. To me religion became judgment, religion became a capitalist venture, and religion became something so far removed from believing in a deity that preached love and tolerance.
I miss believing in something. I miss the sense of being connected to something greater than myself or those around me. I miss the security God provided in hard times. I miss praying. I do believe we all carry a bit of God within ourselves and if each of us tapped into that causing us to treat each other with dignity, love, and respect, we wouldn’t need to pray to an elusive idea of salvation. We’d have it right here and now.
That is all.