I was so incredibly stressed being God’s child.
Can you imagine being traumatized by something that seemed to govern every aspect of your life?
Religion stresses me out. When I was young, I felt the need to micro-analyze all of my actions to conclude whether or not they violated God’s law; there were always internal clashes inside my head that consumed my time, and consumed my energy.
Looking back, I essentially had an imaginary religion friend whom I consulted about what was right and if a little lie counted as sin.
This little voice in my head drove me mad. His opinion made me despise myself, and I felt like a felon breaking the law multiple times in a day.
I spent my weekdays reading books, but I spent my Sundays wondering about heaven and hell. For me, it was a waste of time, trying to settle a non-falsifiable issue like that.
On Sundays, I frequently went to Sunday sch0ol. The younger kids went to some form of class that was divided by grade level, and everyone later convened in the sanctuary in a large group to hear a sermon.
How much does my experience differ from yours because my family goes to a Chinese-American church? The sermons are given by two people, one who speaks English and the other who speaks Chinese. When the choir sings, the audience is encouraged to speak whichever language they are comfortable with. I’ve heard from multiple church-goers that our church doesn’t specify/refuses to take a stance on which type of Christianity they defend. Besides an obvious language barrier, our church operates just like any other church.
But does going to church automatically make you a Christian? You might be labeled as one, but it’s not going to transform you into a believer. Some go to church just go socialize.
I’ve played in our church youth orchestra for the majority of high school, but never once had a spat with anyone over faith or religion. It shouldn’t prevent people from convening and doing what they love.
If you believe, you want to connect with God somehow. Prayer is most often the way.
I prayed selfishly. I’d pray when I wanted something, when I knew that my fate was out of my control. I would never pray when life felt alright. I constantly wavered in belief, but always pretended to believe.
I gave up, letting go of religion sometime in high school. Instead of abiding by pre-written morals, I decided to let my experiences dictate my values. Why not figure everything out myself instead of giving into one-size-fits-all rules and regulations?
The Bible and I agree on many of the same principles, but now my conscience is guilt-free and rid of paranoia, and this I prefer to any holy status.
So now, whether or not a God exists is of no relevance to my life.
I am holding a cup of water. I take a sip.
I take another sip.
Just kidding, God doesn’t exist. Christianity is a lie.
I take another sip.
NO REACTION BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MATTER TO ME. Religion is no longer a dominant part of my life, and I have no time to waste pondering it.
I liked my 9th grade Old Testament bible class, I swear, I really did. The teacher taught us about more than just Christianity, but also about Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. He had a Jewish rabbi come in and speak to us multiple times, and at the end of the year, our class went on a field trip to a synagogue. And that was the last interaction I’d had with religion, until the second semester of my senior year. I enjoyed it because it wasn’t a one-sided approach to the concept of faith, and gave me multiple perspectives to consider.
I highly respect Christians, but that lifestyle is just not for me. Faith isn’t based on someone else; it’s based on me. I am my best motivator.
Who got me into college? Was it God? Was it Jesus? (You never know if Jesus was more than just a carpenter with a Jewfro) No, neither took the ACT and got a much higher score than they expected. That was me, and me alone. It sometimes seems like your fate is in the hands of God when you press submit on the Common App page, but it’s really in the hands of indecisive and capricious admissions representatives at a college.
My mom, on the other hand, is extremely religious, and that has ended up being a good thing for her. Religion is very relevant to her life, and she needs some sort of faith to continue being the well-natured, strong-spirited woman she is. Our differences shouldn’t drive a wedge between us, but there are definitely clashes when we differ over how to deal with hardship.
Maybe the form of Christianity under which I abided during my childhood was a twisted form of religion, and it’s arguably not like that for others, but I felt strangled as a child and the hands choking me seemed to release immediately when I stopped letting the potential existence of a God dictate my life.