Belief

Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching under water
You never can hit who you’re trying for
Some need the exhibition
And some have to know they tried
It’s the chemical weapon
For the war that’s raging on inside

-John Mayer, Belief

Recently, a friend asked me about my religious convictions. I couldn’t give her an answer, and all I could discuss were my experiences with religion that have shaped whatever views I have today. That bothered me. I consider myself to be introspective, and it’s one of the qualities I like the most about myself. But, when it comes to my religious views, I seem to draw a blank, and part of that reason why is because I’ve been avoiding that part of myself.

I didn’t grow up in a religious household-I lived with different family members when I was a child, but we all shared one common thread: you’ll only catch us in church during  Christmas, Easter, weddings, and funerals. During my last two years of high school and my freshman year of college, I became much more involved with Christianity and the “church”, and I got involved in a religious organization on campus. Some people were born and raised in the church, and some were like me-new, eager, and ready to learn. However, things started to change.

I would go to different churches to “test drive” and see what environment I was the most comfortable in. Although each had a different vibe and ideology, I noticed some themes. There was an air of the prosperity gospel; if you did what you were supposed to do as a Christian, then God would make it rain blessings upon blessings. From what I read in the Bible, there’s a few stories of people who went above and beyond being Christian and still went through suffering. It was a recurring message: stick with God through high and low and one day, expect a reward for your pain. But sometimes, when life continues to throw you lemons, making lemonade gets tiring.

The one thing that bothered me the most was the pervasive belief that it was best to believe-blindly, and without question-everything in the Bible. It seemed as if questioning something, anything  in the Bible equaled being “less” of a Christian. I had questions that no one couldn’t answer. I had life views and opinions that were against the Bible-was I too analytical to be a Christian? I didn’t know how to sort and mesh my beliefs with what I was reading without any conflict, and it was unsettling.

While I was trying to figure out where I stood, I experienced another sudden change in my family, and it hurts to even talk about it to this day. I’ve never felt so alone in my life-and when I needed God the most, I felt like he wasn’t around. Where was this God that was going to help me get through the storm? I was angry, dejected, and mentally exhausted from everything that was going on around me.  Slowly, my church attendance started to taper off, and I withdrew from a lot of people and activities. I needed my space to sort through everything going on with my family, so religion was on the backburner. And has been there ever since.

As I’ve gotten older, I realize that nothing or no one holds all the answers to life’s burning questions. Do I believe in God? Yes, unequivocally-there’s no denying his presence in my life. I don’t know if the God portrayed in modern-day religion is my truth, and I’m okay with that uncertainty until I find an answer. I don’t think I’ll have an answer for my friend anytime soon, if ever-as I continue to grow, so will my stance on nearly everything in my life.

Years after Belief was released, I still resonate with it deeply. Maybe one day I won’t anymore.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Belief”
  1. le_per_a says:

    This is a great post. It’s thoughtful.

    For me, belief is a double edged sword. Belief is a beautiful armor. Belief is many things – a person with it can explain a personal outlook.

    I have my own relationship with God, and I don’t rely on the church for direction. I say thank you to him when something goes right. I pray for help and for forgiveness. When I need a bit of buoyancy during a hectic or sad time I will go to a church that has people I like.

    I think belief can be life altering when it becomes part of one’s reality. For a long time I turned away from God because, in this day and age, the resurrection is proven to be scientifically impossible. Good luck turning a few loaves of bread into a banquet for thousands at a soup kitchen. And, honestly, once a leper always leper, unless leprosy is caught early on and medicated there’s no luck changing that card that life has dealt.

    In my reality of understanding belief, I find that reconciling belief and religion is the crux of the matter. To be frank, I don’t think that belief in the bible and practicing religion are the same things.

    If you strip down the story of the bible it becomes clear that ordinary men and women can accomplish extra-ordinary things. It wasn’t until I had personal trials that I realized how powerful it is to strip away the fantastic elements written into the bible and look at the core messages. I’ve found these core messages to be incredibly uplifting.

    Religion (and those who practice it) is what trips me up. People preach ‘God’s word’ and quote the bible like it’s a reference book at the library. Like they are on the receiving end of a phone call with God. According to them ‘X is evil’ and ‘X is wrong’ and ‘You have to do X this way because God said so’. I don’t buy into religion and I stay away from anyone who demonizes people and events under the name of God.

    That’s my personal understanding of what belief and my relationship with God. Thanks for making me think it all through.

    • bellacoils says:

      This comment couldn’t ring more true for me…and this—–>In my reality of understanding belief, I find that reconciling belief and religion is the crux of the matter. To be frank, I don’t think that belief in the bible and practicing religion are the same things” is the reason why I can’t get down with religion the way it is now. Or with the psuedo-holy people who practice it. LOL @ the receiving end of a phone call with God! I can’t stand when people do that! I don’t understand why YOU are telling me God’s word as if I can’t read it myself. That’s another reason why I shied away from religion-the people who claimed to be the holiest (and were the most judgmental) were doing the most heathen things. While no one is perfect, there’s still a difference between being a flawed human being and a hypocrite. And yes, the Bible has some great messages and life lessons that are still applicable thousands of years later.
      I’m at a point right now where I’m trying to figure out how I want my personal relationship with God to be. It’ll take a while but I’ll get there.
      Thank you for thoughtful words…I think your sentiment echoes a lot of others, too.

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