Let’s Talk About Religion.
It’s time for some real talk.
I’m at a confusing spot in my life right now. I grew up Lutheran and went to church all the time. Once my siblings and I got confirmed (in our teens), we weren’t forced to go anymore. And for a while there I didn’t go at all. I still believed in God, but didn’t feel I needed to be present in church to have my beliefs. A year ago I started going again, this time on my own at a new church. At first it was great, and I really felt like the void in my life was being filled. And then as time went on, I stopped going. And now I really don’t want to go back. It’s complicated.
See, I believe that religion is a personal thing. I think everyone has their own beliefs, whether they be about one God or many Gods, or maybe no God at all. As much as I want religion to be part of my life, when I go to church it feels like I’m pretending. Like I’m acting, or performing in a way which the people at my church would approve of. It’s like I have to hide a lot of myself, and just go with the flow of the service and say the things they tell me to say, sing the songs they tell me to sing. I can recite the Lord’s prayer by memory, like many Christians, but I don’t know how strongly I associate with the words. They’re just words to me, and the meaning behind them is completely separate and often gets passed over. I can read from the bible, but don’t really chime in to what the words are trying to tell me. And it feels like I’m faking.
Another problem I’m facing is that I’ve always kind of picked and chosen which parts of my religion I choose to agree with. I believe in God, but I don’t believe he created everything, which seems like a pretty fundamental Christian belief. I don’t believe that you have to choose either science or religion. I believe in evolution. I don’t believe that Noah’s arc ever existed. I believe that God is watching over me and listens to my prayers. I don’t believe that the only options for the afterlife are either heaven or hell. And I also don’t believe that being present in church and singing about your faith makes you a better or more “worthy” Christian.
Now I’m just left at a standstill. Do I need to associate with a religion? Can I have beliefs from multiple religions? Do I get to pick and choose what parts to believe? Can I practice yoga, meditate, and feel connected to some Buddhist ideas, and still be a Christian? Can I even call myself a Christian without believing in creationism?
What do you think?