In the digital world where information is available at the touch of a finger, becoming aware of the world around you is colossal. Especially when raised to believe that everything you need to know can be fit into this nice tidy box called faith.
For many people, it can be a very calming feeling when they know in their heart that someone is there to carry them when things are at their toughest. That there is a plan and should you follow the straight and narrow path, you will find eternal happiness.
For others, it becomes an emotional prison. The straight and narrow path is not only painful, but it is going the wrong way.
The vast majority believe that there can be no morality without religion. Without the strict guidelines of what is right and wrong hammered into your brain by the time you can comprehend, you are doomed to be come a person of sin, destined to be miserable burning for eternity in hell. There is no gray. You are either pure, or you are nothing at all.
No one is perfectly pure, no matter how much they try to prove otherwise. In fact, there are people more moral without religion because they stopped fighting against this impossible idea of what is considered perfect.
Who can say they have never had that moment when they are wracked with inner turmoil over a choice made or action taken, which others would perceive as unholy? The guilt and agony over such choice can tear someone down to their bare bones and leave you raw.
There is bliss to be found on the other side. When you can turn away and see a wide-open field of possibilities. When you can stop judging others, including yourself especially, and just accept them for who they are no matter what they believe.
So many times I was told that it is not my place to judge, and yet I felt like I was under a microscope every time I attended mandatory Sunday congregation. It doesn’t matter which doctrine you fall under, the feeling is the same. You don’t fit it. You can’t possibly fit in because you think outside of the box.
I spent my entire childhood trying to fit into this perfect mold that was supposed to be my salvation.
Even in a time there was no internet, once I felt the guilt of imperfection, I never came back happy. I never came back fulfilled. I was wrecked.
Some would say I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t read the scriptures enough. I didn’t pray hard enough.
I tried. Heaven knows I tried. If a God was there, he sure as hell didn’t listen to me.
And the worst part of it all is seeing the disappointment in my parent’s eyes. How could I possibly turn away from this thing that is so wonderful? How do I explain to them that the place they felt so peaceful was my own personal place in hell?
Am I now doomed to that hell for eternity for my sinful ways? Does it matter that I spend every day substance free? (Aside from life saving ones.) Does it matter that I love my family with all my heart and accept them for who they are no matter what?
It doesn’t matter worth shit.
Why? Because I am not some crazed sycophant that goes to a weekly meeting just to pray to some narcissist whose heaven is supposed to be this paragon of virtue where everyone is perfect and beautiful and terrible.
If heaven is even close to the church on earth, I don’t want it.