If you’ve known me for years, you know that religion, or the discussion of, is something that makes me massively uncomfortable. I was baptized and raised as a Catholic, attending parochial school for all of grade school. The amount of hypocrisy and self-suppression, the shaming and bullying pretty much crushed my spirit. I used to be a little girl who loved Advent and preparing for the birth of Christ. I sang at masses, made rosaries with my grandmother and went to mass weekly with my parents. We moved, and all that changed. I was in a new Catholic school where the message of Christianity was lost. Other religions were glossed over, usually with a hint of sarcasm or disdain. You were reminded daily that you were an unworthy, filthy sinner and you should never pursue your creativity or ideas and self respect was non existent. My friends and I likened going to mass as being programmed robots, who simply uttered words with no feelings behind the prayers. It’s no wonder the minute I graduated and went to a public high school, I left that church and Catholicism in general, far far behind.
I love to read, I love to learn. I want to learn about other religions. Buddhism has a lot of appeal to me, but I admittedly do miss the idea of Christ and some of the ideals taught to me at my first Catholic church. I cannot support the Catholic church, not just due to the many scandals surrounding it, but also because of the damage those representing it did to me and my sense of self. Buddhism is great, I appreciate that Buddhists respect other religions, but during my study and attempts to meditate, I still felt something missing. So, my tradition of eternal learning and development continued.
I have a very good friend at work who has overcome many obstacles. He is a man who overcame a terrible heroin addiction to become one of the finest doctors I have ever met. He credits his recovery to Jesus and lives his life with so much grace and hope. I was talking to him one day about my spiritual wanderings. I explained how I have done so much work on improving my body and mind, but I knew my soul was neglected. He asked if it would be OK to say a prayer over me, and I said yes. Since that day, I have done my very best to have daily conversations with Jesus and to allow him more into my life. I am re-reading my Bible, this time by choice rather than the pages assigned by a teacher. There is so much to be found when you willingly seek Jesus, rather than being forced to. Are all of my problems solved? Has my borderline personality disorder disappeared? Of course not. But I sleep better, I find myself handling stress a bit better and the amount of hope I have by placing faith in Jesus has multiplied tenfold.
If, much like me, you have a problem with the idea of organized religion, but still honor and respect Jesus and His sacrifice. you need to know about an amazing young man by the name of Jefferson Bethke. His YouTube video “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus” is a huge sensation, and people either love him or hate him. Personally, his video (and several other videos he has posted) totally hit the nail on the head for me. I try to watch one video a day, kind of like a devotional, and I am near tears each time. Bethke effectively communicates how Jesus’ work affects today’s people, from the perspective of a man with a less than spotless past-which makes it that much easier to get behind the message.
My mental “issues” cause me to constantly play a message of self loathing in my head. I tend to believe that no one loves me. But in reading the Bible, spending time to develop my spiritual self and surrounding myself with Godly people, I realize there are two men that I will always be able to count on, who will always love me unconditionally: my daddy and Jesus Christ.
Will I get flak for writing so openly about my beliefs and developing spiritual life? Maybe, maybe not. I’ve always been (possibly too) honest here on my blog and that will not be changing anytime soon. Do I necessarily understand and agree with everything in the Bible? No. But I prefer to see the God who loved us despite our sins. I encourage you to never stop exploring, never stop learning, seek out the knowledge your heart and soul cry out for.