Bad Christian: Your Journey Ain't Like Mine
I don’t follow religion but when asked, I always say I’m Catholic because technically, I am. However, I wasn’t completely raised in a Catholic household or any denomination for that matter despite my family’s religious background. But I was aware. Aware of God, the Bible, you know the basics. I lived in a house with two (non-denominational) reverends growing up, so not being aware of those aspects was completely out the question. However, God, religion and the likes were never forced upon me. But I never questioned it until high school.
I’ll never forget when teacher in my freshman English class brought up God. All of us 14-15 year olds were shocked because well, you’re not really supposed to talk about God and beliefs in public schools. But my teacher didn’t care. He asked us bluntly if we believed in God. We all said yes. He then asked why. Silence. He followed up with asking us if did we believe in God because we wanted to or because our parents taught us to? By no means was my teacher an atheist and I can’t quite remember where the conversation itself even stemmed from. But what he taught us that day was to seek God and anything in else in life for yourself. Don’t believe just what anyone tells you to believe. That always stuck with me.
Fast-forward almost ten years since my freshman year in high school, I started searching for God myself. Church wasn’t working regardless if it was a Catholic church, AME, or nondenominational. It just didn’t click. And perhaps that’s because my mother didn’t force church on me as a kid. Growing up, she herself had to go to church every Sunday plus Sunday school and more being that her mother was the reverend of the church. It also didn’t help that church service was held right in my grandmother’s basement. My mom told me that she decided early on that if she were to have kids, she wasn’t going to force them to go to church every Sunday and do what she did. In later years, she told me that she had regrets about not raising me in the church. Well…. I didn’t.
I don’t know what sparked my interest in spirituality and pursuing God but I know I wanted a change in my life. And if this God person was going to be part of it, I’m going to discover Him or her for myself in a whole different way. So I sought out books, researched online, and even attempted church. But I came up short. So I stopped and figured if it’s meant for me to follow God, then I will. Until then, it’s back to the drawing board. A year later, I found myself still wanting that change and was at an all-time low with myself. Suicide was looking like best option because nothing else was working. I wasn’t an atheist; I know there’s something out there bigger than me. But I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of God due to religion and public perception over the years. It made me uncomfortable. It made me feel that if this God figure is real, he clearly has favorites and I’m not one of them. So many things that are supposed to go hand in hand with being a good Christian, I found myself on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Still, I picked up my books that were recommended for me to read by my reverend aunt. I had read them before but this time I was going to let the words of God seep in. And that’s how it happened. I simply allowed myself to be open to God and (S)He opened up to me. However, this does not mean I’m saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost. Actually it’s quite the opposite. I’m a believer and child of God but I am not a Christian. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
It sounds so cliché, but there are some labels I’m just not into with religion being one of them. Why can’t I just believe in God, pray, and do the right thing and that be it? Why must a label be attached to it? I think I’m also scared of calling myself a Christian and all what it is supposed to entail because I’m nowhere near that. There are just some things in Christianity and all religions so to speak that I just don’t agree with according to MY life experiences and beliefs.
My journey is just that: mine. I’m not perfect. I still do things that may be morally unacceptable to others. I still have character flaws, the mouth of a sailor, and PLENTY of moments when many people can catch all of these hands. I still struggle with faith and contemplate suicide more often than I should. I don’t necessarily open up the Bible due to our love/hate relationship. I don’t always pray when I should and some days, I just let the devil win because I had enough. There’s no one way to God. There’s no straight path either. I’m a work in progress but God ain’t quite through with me yet.