It’s funny, I’ve never actually said these words out loud “I don’t believe in God”. It’s such a weight off my shoulders even though technically I’m not saying the words to anyone, just typing the words is such a release.
This probably doesn’t mean much to someone who grew up a “non believer” but I am African and was raised in a sort-of- strict catholic home. My mother was a staunch Catholic who basically prayed day and night for our souls- thinking about it now I kind of feel like I let her down slightly which does make me sad, but it wouldn’t be the first time. Basically what I am getting at is religion formed a huge part of my life for 28 years. In high school I was in church at least 3 days a week for about an hour, I frequently went to Scripture Union every Friday evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it, mostly for the singing and dancing. so when did i stop believing?
Looking back at my relationship with God and how I felt about faith I wasn’t that moved by it, I kept waiting for that moment where I would be “born again” and it never came. I only went to church because I had to and I wanted to be a good daughter and thats what was normal, it was part of life just like going to the grocery store. I went to Scripture Union because everybody else did- clearly I was just a sheep, young and impressionable.
Things changed when I was 16 and religion started to seem extreme, this was around the time ‘new age’ evangelical churches emerged and that was the beginning of the end for me. It just all seemed theatrical and ridiculous, people would be falling over at the alter crying confessing to things they hadn’t done, being miraculously healed of illness, friends over night became exorcists, it was just crazy and it didn’t make sense. But I lived in a bubble and life was constructed around religion was all I knew.
Things changed when I left Zimbabwe and moved to England for university I immersed myself in a culture that didn’t embrace religion some of my best friends were gay, I was experimenting with my sexuality, I drank like a fish and partied like a rock star- all the while desperately trying to maintain a 2:1 average mark at uni!
Sometimes I’d sit in my room and think how appalled my parents would be and how they would think I had let my christian values and morals go, but the truth was I was living life and I didn’t feel bad about it. I was experiencing new things, getting out of my comfort zones and making friends with people I normally wouldn’t and I learnt a lot!
To me religion has a way of confining you and limits your thoughts, feelings and experiences being told every day that if you sin you will be punished is ridiculous, because you will sin everybody does we all have faults but you don’t need to beat yourself up about it, life has enough pressures as it is . We should be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, thats how we grow and learn. Now some religious fanatics will read this and think this is just an excuse to participate in “immoral” activity but it’s not- depending on what your morals are.
Though I do feel religion has formed an integral part of our society, without it we wouldn’t have our laws and justice systems. We do however need to take some of these things with a pinch of salt. I also think its a coping mechanism for some particularly in times of crisis, it gives people hope which is amazing. At at the same time it can be crippling, holding people back and keeping them in hopeless situations they otherwise don’t need to be in, chanting phrases like “it is the will of God”- so I will stay with my abusive husband.
I still maintain and hold some of my christian values, not because I am christian or religious but because I believe in being a good person in society and i thinks that’s important.
So now what do I believe? I have no clue, but I do know I can’t continue to identify myself with Christianity or any other religion for that matter- because they’re all pretty much the same and they all think the other is wrong.
But that’s just how I feel….