Having Faith in a Religious World…

I’ve been thinking about this subject a great deal over the past few years. In our world, religious beliefs surround and sometimes divide us. That saddens me because the truth is that no matter what religion you may claim be it Christian, Buddhists, Islam, etc. our religions share very similar basic ideas. However, being humans we are stubborn to a fault and anything that may seem different we fear; fear creates in us a flight or fight response. That is when we either hide or lash out at what we perceive as the enemy.

I often wonder why we lash out. Is fear of the unknown so terrifying that religion has become the boogieman beneath the bed or in the closet? It’s not as if this subject is new. History is rife with religious persecution from the Burning Times, when thousands died, to the Holocaust, when millions died. Ask yourself this: Would the being you worship–no matter your religion–approve of the slaughter? Of the fury that leaves generations scarred and angry.

My own reasons for the consideration of this topic sprout from the personal battles I’ve experienced over the past six years. In that time I have said good-bye to many beloved people an aunt (who knew the real me better than my own mother), my mother, and an uncle all of them siblings. Two jobs have laid me off and an accident left me with enough metal in my left leg to set off a metal detector. I’ve also become a published writer, though struggling, and am finalizing a bankruptcy.

Now I know that some people out there are wondering what any of this has to do with the subject of spiritualism and faith. My own personal spiritualism and faith has helped me survive these battles. If you note I do not use the term religion. The reason is simply that I look upon religion as a man-made construct in which a few can exert control through the many by interpreting spiritual text. Over the centuries, religion and politics have gone hand in hand in an attempt to crush enemies and gather wealth.

Don’t misunderstand this comment. I speak only from personal experience. As a child, I grew up in an area of the Bible belt where hellfire and brimstone was the flavor of Sunday mornings. I witnessed people who were what I term fair weather Christians, men who beat their children and wives only to attend Sunday services, praise the Lord, and all was considered forgiven. As soon as they left the church, the cycle would start all over again. People sometimes forget that children have eyes and ears, adults give them far less credit for they see.

I’m not attacking Christians by stating this in anyway. Some of my best friends are true Christians. I respect them and I love them because they follow a path of forgiveness, acceptance, and love. Is that not what Jesus preached?

My mother, Goddess rest her soul, raised my siblings and I to believe in a higher power, but she also raised us to understand that faith was a personal choice. She stated that a higher power surrounded us and that attending church was not required to communicate with this power. As long as we were kind and understanding, we had nothing to fear from the Creator. She did not force her beliefs on us although certain things made her squirm as we got older and began asking questions as kids will do.

An example of this was when I asked for an Ouija board and she denied me explaining there were certain things children should not seek out. Such things were not to be dallied with they were not toys. While living beneath her roof there were rules as are expected and this was one that she sat before me. When I was older and on my own if I chose to explore that venue then that was my choice, but that I must educate myself thoroughly, she explained. My mother was raised a Christian, yet she stepped away from the church at the age of 16 when a preacher called her out and demanded she be baptized or she would go to hell. Yes, folks it happens whether we like to think it or not.

In my 20’s and on my own I discovered that the world and people in general could be far crueler than I had ever imagined. There was I discovered an empty spot inside me that needed filled. I tried various churches, did massive amounts of reading, and I was still at a loss as to how to fill that hole. Shortly before my father’s death, I experienced what I can only describe as an angelic visitation. It is a huge confession, as a writer, to admit I have no words to describe this experience. Never before or after have I seen or felt anything as this particular incident and even now nearly 20 years later words still fail me.

It was at this point in my life I realized there was far more to existence than the day to day. That experience opened my mind, my heart, and my soul in a way that I never dreamed possible. I found faith in everything around me and this eventually led me to Paganism. Before my mother passed, I told her, fearing what she might think, but knowing I could not always hide in the shadows. Although she did not completely understand my choice, she accepted them.

My faith and spiritualism does not require a single face with no room for interpretation for it to be powerful. It holds me close and comforts me when things seem grim. It gives me strength and determination when the waters of life become stormy. My belief assures me that those I love still exist. It eases my grief with the balm of hope. That I will see them again is a given whether it be in this life or the next.

In closing, I say simply that just because I do not believe what you may believe does not mean that I am wrong. Faith as my mom said is a personal gift that our Creator has laid on our doorstep. It is up to us, as individuals, to accept that gift with the same love our Creator gave it to us. All we have to do is open the door.

To all those lost souls out there I say open your eyes, your hearts, and your souls. Accept your fellows in humanity completely even if you may not understand the path they’ve chosen.

Blessed Be. 🙂

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