Religion by Shawna Thomas

RE·LI·GION

rəˈlijən/

noun

I hate religion.

 

I hate that there are a set of rules that causes people to go crazy if they break one of them. Maybe I should have said that, I hate the concept of religion. All of the “do’s and don’ts” do not allow there to be a grey area. The maxim that everything is black and white is refuted over and over again, every time someone breathes. It’s almost as if being involved in a religion takes away a small part of who we are instead of adding to who we need to become. I don’t know.

College tends to be a difficult time for its culprits. This is the time where students are attempting to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Not to mention, that we, have an extreme amount of information shoved down our throats to make us “almost experts” in our field of study- or field of “we chose this major because mommy and daddy made us.” Considering the fact that college already has its downs… being a student with some sort of faith becomes difficult. Being a believer in college is all the more difficult. A believer, in my opinion, is a person who believes in God, the Father-Son-Holy Spirit, and believes that the Bible contains “Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth” inspired and breathed through God Himself. That seems to be a loaded statement, but an important one. As I approach my senior year of undergrad, I have more than enough time to think  about where my faith is and where my head is.

 

It all started here:

It was sophomore year of college, and I took a World Religions class. I didn’t necessarily believe in the common man’s definition of “religion,” but I thought the class would teach me about some of the mindsets of the world’s main branches of faith. So, we went through Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and last but certainly not least, Christianity. There wasn’t one religion I was more excited about than the other. I wished I could regurgitate all the information I learned to explain it. We went through each religion slowly and somewhat intimately. Our professor loved this method of teaching because it allowed the students to get in the minds of those who may think differently than they do. As we moved through each religion, I felt more knowledgeable about life in general, but as Spiderman understands, “with great power comes great responsibility.” The semi-tragic part when I inherited this new knowledge was that I doubted the faith I’ve known my entire life. I never thought a class would have made me slighty second guess who I was and who my God was. This is how my problem began. Growing up in a culture where God was put first and everything we as His people did was dedicated to Him was all I knew. There was no room for me to think about any other option outside of that. I didn’t think that it was a bad head space for me to be in, but the older I got, the more I realized how closed minded their thinking tended to be. That same thinking is how my mind grew out of and also why my brain seemed to moved at a thousand miles a minute. There was so much I didn’t know, and so much I knew I couldn’t comprehend in fifteen weeks, but I tried anyway. During this time, I set my faith on the backburner and I shouldn’t have. I would hear about anti-semitism and how Krishna was one of the gods of compassion and somehow forgot about my God of compassion and healing. It was almost like I told Him I didn’t need Him. During the hardest time of life when there were so many decisions to make, I decided to allow my new knowledge to take over something that was never changing. While I was enrolled in the class, I also enrolled myself into the world. I lost my footing. The deep-rooted beliefs I had were suddenly unimportant. I started trying some new things that I knew would lead me down a path of destruction, and I didn’t seem to care. I went through these periods during high school, but I thought they were over. I thought I was strong enough in my religion that I would ever deter away again. Boy, was I wrong.

———————

College opens up a lot of doors. You find yourself and learn how to be independent. Although I never really had this, Mom and Dad let go of their invisible leash so that we would be able to be functioning human beings of society. You meet life long friends and learn about things that you probably will never use, but it’s appreciated because it’s all a part of the process. The sad part is that nothing in college is certain… nothing in life in certain. I am constantly reflecting on the times I went to my Christian camp where each camper left “have childlike faith” beat into our heads sunrise to sunset. I’m convinced those words will forever be in my mind and in my heart. I would like it if I could get them tattooed to my eyelids, but, I digress. Concepts like these confused me when I was younger. Faith? Faith is supposed to be BIG. Everything I have is supposed to go into my faith. The options range from sports to sleeping to using talents because of this “faith.” But, what keeps happening? What causes me to stumble? Since I am a believer, I should know these things. The Bible makes it plain…or does it? Matthew 17:20 says, “He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Why has college made this concept, this goal seem unattainable? But, that’s what this time is for. I’m twenty years old, and I expect my faith to be a strong as any other believer. I want to be like the seasoned believer who seems to have gone through nothing, except behind closed doors she cries because she didn’t feel any man would want her. I want to be like the seasoned believer who sings in the choir, but goes home and knows that he’s secretly into the male choir director. I want to be like the seasoned believer who preaches behind a pulpit, and finds himself lusting after a woman in the congregation. The point is, I want to be a woman who lives and believes in God. I want to grow during this part of my life, my college life, and be able to learn from all the crazy mistakes I know I’m going to make. I want to kick temptation in the face, while looking doubt in the eye. I want to understand that even calling myself a believer while being in college puts me at risk of hate.

 

Most of all,

I want to be true. I want to be genuine.

 

So, why do I hate religion?

Religion feels like it’s suffocating its victims, causing them to retreat from their purpose. Religion says that there are a set of rules that must be followed in order to be “complete” at the end of your journey. It does not make room for mistakes.

 

I want a relationship with my Creator. I do not want religion.

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