Moving from anger, to forgiveness, to growth.
When I was a child, I once asked my mom, “If God is Jesus’ father, who was God’s father?” My mom simply looked at her curious, inquisitive child and told me to ask my devoutly Catholic grandma, who would probably know the answer.
When I was older, I asked my father how we knew God was a “He.” God never had a physical body, God never had genitals. How did we just assume that God was a masculine spirit?
When I was 12 or 13 years old, I turned to my mom and told her that I didn’t believe in God, anymore. I’m not sure if she believed me when I said it, because I was filled to the brim with tween angst and incredibly dramatic.
I’m not sure if I ever really believed in Heaven and Hell. Thinking back on it, I always believed that spirits simply entered other bodies and came back. Or they hovered in the ether watching over their ignorant family members as they stumbled around Earth.
Actually that’s a lie.
I did believe in the idea of Heaven and Hell when I was a kid. Catholic school and Sunday school always taught me that God was a forgiving spirit, that we were made in His image, and that good behavior was rewarded with a good life.
And then my parents separated. And I moved away and lost all of my friends. I gained weight. I was lonely.
And so I wondered why, when I’d done everything good, God chose to punish me and my family with sadness and loss? With time, I read stories of God testing his followers’ faith with misery, only to reward them in the end tenfold.
I thought that was bullshit.
My mother thought differently. I distinctly remember her praying and reading the Bible as she struggled with her own sadness. Even though I chose to distance myself from Christ, I was happy that my mom found comfort in the word of God. In my teenage years, I still didn’t fully consider myself Catholic. If anyone asked me, I said yes. I was baptized, I went to church on some holidays. So, technically, I was.
In my twenties, I started to reconsider. I now believe that religion should be a choice. While I know that the element of religious choice is a very liberal way of thinking, I feel that someone is more likely to feel connected to something if they throw themselves in willingly. My ancestors didn’t choose to be Catholic. They were Catholic because their slave owners were Catholic. They were forced to abandon everything they knew in order to survive. And while I do believe they used their beliefs to keep themselves alive, and taught their children resilience through the same practice of honoring God, I want to honor them by exercising my right to choose.
But I was beginning to consider other forms of spirituality. Specifically, I was curious about the ways we as humans connect with the earth.
I may have stopped believing in God, but i never stopped believing in the idea of a grand connection between us and the universe. I found wonder in the fact that the menstrual cycle often coincided with the moon cycle, that my joy and depression coincided with the distance of the sun from the Earth. I wondered why elements of the universe existed within the human body, and whether our spirits never really go away. Where does our state of being go when we die? Do our complex thoughts, feelings, and experiences just cease to exist?
Personally, I believe that it’s a nice balance between belief in science and belief in the unknown. Any scientist will tell you that there are plenty of things about Earth and the universe that are unexplained. The more I learn about the great, big expanding universe, the less inclined I am to believe that Heaven and Hell exist.
Maybe it’s rudimentary. Maybe it’s Hippie-lite. But it’s something I choose to explore because I spent a lot of time believing those things to be off-limits ideas. And I figure, why not take the time to think deeper?