My life continues to amaze me. While I never would have imagined myself in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, everything has so far worked out in the best way possible. I have nothing I can complain about and very much consider myself to be a blessed person. That said, I do not attend church. I don’t have a church home and am not seeking one. I realize that this is controversial both where I live now and where I was raised, but since this is my blog I feel like I should be allowed to discuss the topic of faith freely. So here goes.
No doubt, not even a little. But I have very serious qualms with the way religion has bastardized the beauty of faith. So here are my thoughts on the subject:
I believe in God because water is somehow less dense in a solid state.
I believe in God because the chances of being born a healthy human are drastically lower than the actual percentage of people born without birth defects.
I believe in God because the sun comes up everyday, without fail. And because we are so perfectly spaced away from it that we don’t burn to a crisp or freeze to death.
I believe in God because I have been outside in the woods and seen Him there.
I believe in God because people have been saved at the last possible second.
I believe in God because there is always a silver lining.
I’ve noticed many people commenting on the fact that people my age just aren’t going to church anymore. The numbers are dwindling for twenty-something attendees, but not for the reasons the church might think. It’s not necessarily that we no longer believe in God, we just don’t believe in God on the church’s terms.
Now, I realize it’s a little presumptuous for me to speak on behalf of everyone, so instead I will take a more personal approach.
I don’t have time for a God whose followers believe that “love thy neighbor” somehow excludes Muslims, gays, blacks, or anyone else who could be considered “other.”
I don’t have time for a God whose followers expect enlightenment in the next world but who seek materialism in this one.
I don’t have time for a God whose followers would adamantly oppose abortion but who do not adopt the otherwise “unwanted” children out of the system, then want to reduce the taxes and welfare necessary to provide that system in which they live.
I don’t have time for a God whose followers would mock one another without first taking time to learn about each other.
I don’t have time for a God whose followers, despite knowing that we are all basically the same inside, would consider anyone else to be lesser.
I don’t have time for a God whose followers opinions get valued solely because they are rich.
I don’t have time for a God whose followers would look upon unwed teen parents at their baby’s dedication/baptism and say things like “Bless that little baby’s heart.”
I don’t have time for a God whose followers actually want to be a part of “white flight.”
I have been so blessed. I am an Filipino American female who was raised white in an upper-middle class family in the United States. I am blessed because I am a woman, which somehow reduces my Asian “otherness” here. I am blessed because I was raised by two wonderful people who did the best they could to protect me and offered me everything they had. I am blessed because I have never experienced a day without love. I am blessed because bipolar disorder, depression, and alcoholism have afflicted my family and yet somehow I remain (mostly) unscathed. I am blessed because things come easy to me, and when they don’t, I have the support of my loved ones. But most of all, I am blessed to have known and loved people who did not share these experiences with me. I am blessed to be close to people whose lives have been torn apart, who did not have money to rely on when the car needed new tires, whose parents couldn’t overcome their demons. I am blessed to have known people who had to work for everything and still find the cards stacked against them. I am blessed to have loved people whose hurt has taken them to a place of addiction and who have pulled themselves out, despite the tar pit of depression constantly threatening to drag them back in each and every day. I am blessed because God has introduced me to a world far larger and rougher and more beautiful than the one I was born into.
I don’t want a church home because I can have a spiritual relationship with God without the negativity. I don’t want a church home because I no longer believe that someone being “a good Christian” actually equates to them being a good person. Maybe I am liberal, or agnostic, or who knows what. It doesn’t matter.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
I am working so hard to be that person. I am trying my best to be honest about who I am and where I am now, because I believe honesty saves lives. I believe that knowing that others struggle the same way you do is empowering, and that humbling ourselves to recognize that the life we live is only one bad investment away from a life on the streets is critical. That remembering that each of us is usually doing the best we can with what we have is key.
So here I do not blame anyone. We are all the product of what we know and how we are raised. But my eyes have been opened by meeting, caring for, and loving people who are different than me. The 3-year-old in a mini Clansmen outfit doesn’t know to hate black people, but he is taught that that hate is true and right and more often than not grows up to agree. My issue with the church is that we are too homogenous. We deflect the “other” and reinforce our own opinions by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people. Even if I found a church that I liked, it would be because they think like me. Instead, I’m going to work to be the best person I can, to open myself up to people who are different and try to empathize with their experiences. And through that I will just further see the beauty that is our human existence, and because of that beauty, I will continue to believe in God.