My Belief is Faith
Appreciating God without Organized Religion
I’ve never really committed to a religion. When I was little, I read the books of the Bible, but I only read the versions made for kids. The stories were simply enjoyable; I never took lessons out of them, and I certainly didn’t apply them to my own life. I went to church, a Methodist one to be exact, for a while with my mother, but to be brutally honest, I don’t think I ever paid much attention. I got confirmed, baptized, the works, but I only did it because I thought it was something my mother wanted for me. It also helped that at the time, my friends were going through the same processes. I thought openly committing to religion was normal and almost mandatory of everyone. All I cared about (being a middle school girl and all) was receiving my own Bible with my name engraved on the cover in shimmering gold letters. And when I did, it felt like heaven on Earth.
… I don’t ever remember bending the binding at all. I believed in God, but that wasn’t anything that comforted me. I didn’t pray on a daily basis, but I prayed for others when I knew things were hard. I rarely prayed for myself; it just wasn’t something that came naturally to me. I actually don’t think I even thought of the idea when going through difficult times.
Now I’m not saying that after one experience, all of that changed. I haven’t gone to church, and I don’t think I’ll start going every Sunday starting from now on. I still won’t pray everyday because it still isn’t something that I think to do. But I believe in God completely. I still don’t follow a religion, I don’t know what to think of the stories presented in religions, and I probably won’t ever follow specific customs. But I believe.
I believe God is good. I believe He created us not to worship Him constantly but to live our own lives to the best of our ability. I believe He wants us to be kind to everybody, and He wants to be talked to through the good times and through the bad. He wants to know us as we come to know and discover ourselves. Each human being does not have one set plan to follow in life, but several, and God oversees us and guides us through the plan we choose. He doesn’t ask for much other than for us to be good people and to communicate with Him whenever possible. Although there is so much we owe to God because He has done so much for us, I don’t think all of our purposes are to spread word about Him, obey his commands, or anything of the sort. In fact, I don’t think God wants to command us at all because I don’t think He has set rules for us to strictly adhere to. I believe each person is meant to live life for the greater good, and that’s what God wants to see. God wants peace and happiness on Earth and has given us life to carry out that task through the different means that we call our own passions. God forgives our sins because He knows that it’s so easy to be lead off the path; He expects us to learn and improve, not necessarily know from the start. He believes in moderation and appreciation and the valuing of relationships in our lives because connection promotes goodness, and God is good.
When I was in the hospital at the end of my senior year of high school, one of my best friends Megan came to visit me. She gave me a letter she had written for me, and I was barely able to read it, but it goes as follows:
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Scenes from his life flashed across the sky and he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to him and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of his life had flashed before him, he recalled that at the lowest and saddest times of his life there was only one set of footprints. Dismayed, he asked, “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.” The Lord replied, “My precious child. I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering when you saw only one set of footprints… That was when I carried you.
When you lie in a hospital for a week, dozing in and out of consciousness, meeting people the day before they pass away, throwing up bile, crying out of self pity, shivering out of pain, and wondering why you, you begin to appreciate everything in your life. You begin to appreciate all of the moments you wish you could have said something but didn’t want to break the beauty of silence with your rough speech. You begin to appreciate the people that come to see you even when you’re at your worst. You begin to appreciate the teachers that put you under the stress that you’ve gone through, and you begin to appreciate being able to handle that stress. You appreciate everything, you appreciate experiences, you appreciate relationships, you appreciate life. You appreciate God, even when you’re not religious like me. You appreciate the ability to have hope. Because hope is everything, and hope moves you forward. You begin to miss everyone, everything, every place, every thought. You miss the past. You look forward to the future.
When I told Megan how much God helped me when I was at my worst, explaining how I didn’t know if I believed in a religion but I knew I believed in God, she replied, “It’s called faith.”