Like many Catholics, my first experience with religion was one I don’t even remember: baptism. Ever since I was young I’ve been told a multitude of rules and customs to follow in order to achieve every Catholic’s goal, to go to heaven. At some point, I stopped listening to what my catechists had to say during class and what the priest said during their long sermons and began to doubt what once was the center of my life. This doubt began to spiral into me questioning my religion as a whole.
My experience with religion “[began] very early”, I would pray with my grandma most nights, sing church hymns, I even went to a religious preschool with mandatory mass on Wednesdays. I was young, so my mind was easily influenced and molded by those around me. Whatever an adult said had to be true, right? I believed the world I lived in was perfect and nothing would change that. I was happy because I believed all the “good” I was doing would bring me one step closer to God and His kingdom. The one thing I can say about all this now that I’m a little older is that being around the church at a young age shaped me into the person I am today whether I like it or not, much like Barry Lopez who was forever affected by the words he received when he was young from an old woman.
At some point, like many people I grew up with and gained more knowledge about the world around me. I began to question the things in my life that once seemed perfect. I realized that my mind had been “carefully pruned [like a bonsai tree]” to think a certain way. Children are a big part of Catholicism, they are seen as gifts from God, gifts we should want. I remember growing up I always dreamed about having a big family with lots of children, now I think I would be happy with a dog and that’s about it. The more I thought about it the more I realized having children isn’t the only way you can find happiness. I think a big part about why I wanted such a big family was because it’s something those around me said I should want, this just goes to show how the Church inadvertently made me think the way I did. According to the Bible, “‘if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’”, meaning that God gave us free will and the right to use it. Even though we’re all suppose to have free will, the same people who preach the word of God contraindicate that teaching, they instead insist that being Catholic is the right path of life. It can be seen in the media and even politics how people of the church push their teachings onto others without caring about their personal beliefs. Those who push their religion onto others are the people who make people see religion in a bad light. They are the ones who made me start to question. As I began to see more problems, slowly my faith in my catechist and the teachings of the Bible waned little by little.
“Lost and Found” on Vimeo
My mind was much like this room, cluttered with so many thoughts and confusions.
I have no problem with religion at all; I in fact believe in some sort of higher being although I am a very logical type or person. The constant push of the people around me is what I think was the last straw. Every week I have bible class, thus every week I have beliefs shoved down my throat that are backed by faith I barely have. Religion is mostly backed by faith, almost never by logic. There are some instances where yes the Bible can be proved with logic, but for the most part it’s filled with explainable miracles that aren’t necessarily bad to believe in. What I hate most is that most religious people will tell you to put your faith in God and something good will come out of it instead of acting. Faith can only take you so far. Throughout your life you will face many challenges and difficult situations, putting your faith in God to solve all your problems is not the best solution, what’s best is for you to act. People of the church always have a way of saying “it’s God will” or “it’s all part of His plan” something along the lines of that to justify something bad happening, it makes it seem you’re being punished for the greater good when maybe something bad just happened because it happened. In the end the people who were suppose to strengthen my belief in God are the ones who made me begin to doubt it.
Religion is a learning experience, it’s not something someone can tell you the right and wrongs of. Most people who leave the church come back to it later in life after they have time to think about it for themselves rather than have someone tell them what they should think. My relationship with God isn’t something others should have a say on, so maybe in the future my faith will be reaffirmed, but for now I can question.