I’ve never been religious, not even sure what that word really means. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in God because I do. In fact, I know I have a great relationship with God, I just don’t really believe in religion or maybe I’m not impressed with religion. Religion for me, limits someone’s understanding of faith as each “religion” has its own unique ideologies and cultures and traditions EVEN IF they claim to worship the same higher being. But despite not compelling to what a religious community (belonging to one) expects me to do, (not that I go around doing mindless stuff, of course I have my values), I know that my God loves me the same as everyone else.
I’ve lost count on how people would tell me off when I don’t go to church like as if rubbing shoulders with hypocrites really make my Sundays better. I do go to church sometimes, the coffee is always good. (I know I’m gonna irk off a number of people with that statement but at least I’m being honest here and isn’t respect for others’ views taught in church as well?) I am very much aware, growing up in a family with closed religious beliefs, that as a “Christian,” I am obliged to go to Sunday mass or worship service, share in charities and actively participate in small groups. Not sure what sort of validation they get from doing so as I feel like their being good followers of Christ or their idea of how a Christian life is led are pegged on their church attendance (this is based on my experience, not talking generally). I don’t go for certain reasons I’m sure most people (who also call themselves Christians) won’t or refuse to understand. I however, worship my God in my own, intimate way, I don’t really need to let everyone in on how I do it because at the end of it all, it’s gonna boil down to just me and Him. I keep a devotional that I read and reflect on every morning, I converse with my God about random things as I go about my day and I’m a fervent believer of prayer. Yes, I pray a lot and I also teach my children how to pray and be thankful for the life God has graced upon us. How fortunate are we to experience this beautiful world.
But it wasn’t always like that. To people who knew what I went through more than a decade back, they would somehow understand how I came to a point where I’ve shaken my fists and screamed at God for far too many times demanding that He listen to me and do as I ask because what I say would get me out of the miserable life He’s assigned me with. I’ve questioned Him endlessly as to why so much shit had to happen to me when I know I’m not a bad person and I feel like I’m being a good Christian — fulfilling my spiritual obligations, going to church every Sunday, tithing, being respectful and trying so much to be patient with everybody even when most of the time I can’t be. It’s so easy to put fault on someone when things turn sour and don’t go the way we expect it to be and in my exhaustion, I did just that. I blamed and cursed God for all the ugly that was happening to my life and even tried to convince myself that I don’t believe in Him anymore.
Despite the thoughtless condemnation, my God’s love was steadfast and unwavering. He never failed to surprise me. What He gave me was always way better than what I asked for and up until know, I continue to be amazed. During those times when my heart was filled with hate and so much anger, I went on to ignore my God for years, failing to notice the colorful blessings He’s slowly painted my life with. In my doubt, the Lord tenderly showed me how to just let go and trust and when I finally decided to open my eyes, I broke down and reached out and it was through prayer that I developed a real relationship with Him. As my days unfold and more of my prayers are answered, I think I have an idea, maybe a clearer fragment on how He wants my life to play out. Yes, I will never fully understand how and I will always be impatient why it doesn’t ever happen overnight (after all, I am only human) but I am assured that God’s timing is perfect.
In between the weight of the world, we tend to forget that there is a God ready to receive our cry with a huge embrace, without judgement and full of mercy. You don’t really need to be religious to learn how to pray or worship or build a connection with God. Religion is a stereotype believers of Christ, of a God, of a higher being, could really do without. What this world needs is to commune and impart and share mutual beliefs that bank upon faith and kindness and compassion and not traditions. I long stopped decrying God’s decisions on my life and instead pray for discernment and the patience to wait because I now know He knows best and I will always be grateful and find comfort in the fact that I do not walk this life alone.