I grew up in a Catholic family. My parents were pretty active in our community, and I think it was a good way to grow up. We had a lot of family friends and were surrounded by people with positive morals and like-minded attitudes.
We weren’t the strictest of Catholics. While Sunday-morning mass was routine, we also grew up learning to recite a lot of lines from ‘The Life of Brian’. Mass was something I never really got. Yes, it’s steeped in tradition – still, it never spoke to me, and it never engaged me. I was lucky that my parents were understanding about it, and helped us appreciate the underlying message. A blind and fundamental approach to religion could be dangerous; we had to apply it to our own lives. I saw plenty of people that were good at celebrating and singing about God, but not so good at living out his ways.
During my late teens I stopped attending. Church just didn’t click with me … If God was everywhere, then we could connect anywhere, right? I would do it on my own terms.
After that, my idea of God got a bit blurry. Like many, I questioned if he actually existed. A lot of bad goes on around the globe – the media does a great job of blasting that into our living rooms; I wondered how He allows those things to happen.
On the other hand, how could there be so many religions with aligned ideals, and they all be so wrong? They all believe in some sort of divine power. Despite not being so religious, my beliefs evolved to be more “interfaith”. The more I learned about different religions, the more I understood that they all have valid messages. They also may have aspects that I didn’t appreciate – I aligned those with my concerns about the Catholic Church. I also learned more about the history of the Catholic Church, (OK, I admit, some of it was via Dan Brown, but he was presenting others’ findings in an entertaining manner) and wondered just how much of today’s religions have been tweaked and interpreted by humans who may not have had the purest of intentions.
Still, years of attending church and Catholic schooling never taught me how to have a relationship with God. How to speak, how to listen, how to connect – he is everywhere, but where? There were no answers for those who questioned why or how? I prayed occasionally – then, less and less frequently; normally for someone else; usually when something serious was wrong. I wasn’t convinced it was working. But I never tried to find out why.
On my journey to find myself, and discover my own purpose, I sort of stumbled back onto God and my faith. People I spoke to referred to how their faith helped, books I read were more religious than I expected, and messages from religious figureheads spoke to me more often. I found more and more information about how the different religions were alike.
I was uncovering my soul – the bit that linked me to a higher power. The part of me that existed before I was born, and will continue on after my death. I became more aware of the workings of my mind, my subconscious and my heart. That energy I feel inside is my soul. Those moments of intuition, creativity, inspiration … it’s all my soul. And it’s through my soul that I connect with God. Once I understood and was open to it, I began to feel it. After that, how could I not believe?
It was unintended, but I began to get answers to many of the questions I had struggled with for years. I’m hardly a theologian – but God is definitely a bigger part of my life now. I consider myself not a religious person, but a spiritual person. Whether it’s God, Allah, the Universe or some other higher power, they’re all the same to me.
This world is full of miracles staring us in the face. There are so many scientists trying to make sense of nature. Isn’t it common sense that there’s just too much technology here for it to be a result of some freak incident.
The hardest thing for me to accept is that there is a higher power at work behind everything that happens. It’s all happening for a reason. More often there’s a message – the universe saying there’s something to be learnt. It’s a really difficult one to accept when there’s so much hardship in the world. I’ve written previously that we wouldn’t be here if we were perfect. When we’re not hearing the message we need, then I like to believe we’ll get a wake up call in the form of some divine intervention.
Finding God does not mean a bunch of new rules to hide behind, and looking to scriptures for the direction I need. I’m living with a sense of purpose now, and freedom, courage and energy that I’ve not known before.
This is faith that I’m talking about – I’m writing to share and provoke some thought, not to persuade or distress. I respect that many will disagree with me. My faith is something that will grow, change and mature, just as I do – just as any relationship does. I’ll admit, there’s a lot I still have unanswered. I don’t proclaim to have evidence to prove all of this. It is faith, after-all.