The ideas of religion and spirituality are one of the most heavily debated and controversial topics, often being the driving force behind wars, family break-ups and a myriad of other awful events. It is also a source of comfort, of safety, for many of millions of people across the world.
I have always had a difficult relationship with religion, at least with Christianity and it has sometimes warped my perspective of other practising Christians.
I remember religion becoming a big part of my life around about the time my mum separated from her second husband. She found going to Church, praying, and leaning on other members of the church helped her heal or at least helped her enough where she could get through each day.
We went to Church every Sunday, sang gospel songs – but cool gospel songs, very Christian pop – and had teas and biscuits with everyone else after the Sunday service.
I loved going to Church. I loved the sense of community that enveloped every single member of the congregation and how we all helped support and guide each other. Everyone looked after everyone and there was no sense that I, or anyone for that matter, didn’t belong. I even got my own children’s bible and I spent every night praying to God to help me, to help my mum, my sisters and to guide us along the right path.
I do remember one day, I had been reading and praying all morning. Clutching my own cross necklace and kneeling beside my bed, just talking to God. Suddenly, the most amazing feeling came across me, a sort of weighted comfort and lightness and hope was in me. It confused me and also even scared me a little because I was still so young but I remember running down the stairs to my mum.
She was so happy for me and I explained the feeling as best I could. I remember her smiling, taking my hand and saying that He heard me, that God had sent his Holy Spirit and that He was listening. It was still confusing for my wee head to wrap itself around the idea, but I remember feeling safe and secure and that was enough for me.
However, as I got older, I began to feel confused and I struggled a lot with my identity within the Church. I was beginning to realise that I might be bisexual, which was a terrifying idea in of itself, but I was becoming more aware of some Christian attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community.
When Googling how to be bisexual and Christian, I was bombarded with these ideas that I was a terrible person, that I was going to hell, that I should even be killed for simply loving another girl.
I didn’t understand and even having early conversations with my mum didn’t help. Her belief was that homosexuality was a sin. But she was a big believer in love the sinner, hate the sin, and didn’t think it was right for same-sex couples to be married in a Church or any other sort of religious building, even if they were if they were part of that faith group.
(I would like to note that my mum does not have those same views and is very supportitve of my identity. She recently attended the local pride, in Elgin, and even got a rainbow watch strap that she said was in honour of me.)
I began to remove myself from Christianity and refused to attend Church, completely shutting down the idea that there was this omnipotent, benevolent and all-loving being. How could there be such an entity that would encourage these beliefs? How could there be such an entity that would allow people to use His name as justification for outright hatred and violence?
I was angry and I still am.
My movement from Christianity forced me to find a new belief system, and while I have not done a deep dive into it, nor do I know the correct terms, I begin to find myself drawn to the umbrella idea of spirituality.
As I understand it, spirituality is about the universe, nature and the energy that connects everything and everyone around us. It is finding balance and answers in the understanding of the deeper parts of ourselves, consciously or subconsciously.
However, I want to strongly argue that there is not one singular answer for a Creator or a system or rhyme or reason to the order of our world. Maybe everyone is right. Maybe no one is. But I do not want to be restricted by one answer.
I do not want to throw away something that I know happened to me, purely because it is not consistent with the rules of that denomination. Life is too short and the universe is too wide. I am going to follow my own religion.
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