|My “before” picture|
When it comes to religion, I am apathetic.
For some reason, as a 20 year-old, I am possibly arrogant to think that I understand religion well enough to make an informed decision, but being apathetic is the only logical way to mesh my lifestyle with my past experience with religion.
Based on my upbringing, I should have been be a dedicated perhaps even fervent Christian, but somehow that destiny changed.
I was raised by an imperfect father and an almost perfect mother, and as a child, I often lay awake in the wee hours of the morning listening as my mother poured her heart out to God, praying that her children would grow up to not only enter heaven’s pearly gates, but that they would make a positive impact upon others during their life.
I must admit that I can never forget those prayers and they sometimes still haunt me as I explore and enjoy the “wicked world”.
All my years growing up, I never watched TV, or had extended interaction with influences not controlled by fellow Christians.
My school years from pre-school to high school graduation were spent at the church private academy setup a lot like the Little House on the Prairie where I received an excellent education and was sheltered from the problems found in public education.
All things outside my little religious world were simply explained by my mother as being bad and doing them would result in a ticket to hell. I’ve always had a rebellious streak and whenever my mother would take that position on anything, it only heightened my interest in understanding the issue in question.
However I kept my thoughts, emotions, questions, and ideas securely locked behind an almost stone mask because I knew (from experience and by watching others) that most people could not be trusted and would only end up bringing me pain.
This closing of my outward expressions resulted in the loss of closeness and relationship with my parents.
As I entered my teenage years, I tried several times to throw myself wholly into religion but always ended up becoming complacent and almost stagnant.
At the age of seventeen, I had my first part time job and all the glitter and mysteries of the world were placed within my grasp.
By that time, I almost hated religion as it seemed to require everything just for the hope that heaven would be the reward for a life of restrictions, rules, and self-denial.
Two years down the road, I made my decision to leave.
The lifestyle offered by the church no longer contained any interest or meaning for me. The church’s standpoint is total separation from those who choose to leave, so I knew I would lose all my nineteen years’ worth of friends and even some of my family.
But to me, staying meant wasting my life as a “wannabe Christian”, when I could be enjoying life in the world as a “real sinner”.
So as I sit this Sunday evening, not in church attendance, I have to wonder what all church goers are seeking and receiving by pursuing religion.
Is it hope, self-satisfaction, moral duty, or is it the belief that God and man can experience life together?
I do not mean to insinuate that religion is non-beneficial, because I have seen the change it can make in some people’s lives.
The simple fact is that I have been overdosed on religion and my withdrawal symptoms include a total lack of interest.