When I was a child, probably around 4th grade, my parents told me that I had to explore religion. They suggested Sunday School but said I could choose any religion I would like and attend whatever equivalent of Sunday School they offered. I wanted to be Jewish because our closest family friends were Jewish and I adored the culture but, unfortunately, I don't believe it works that way without marrying into a Jewish family. At the time I was pretty ignorant about any Eastern religions so that left Christianity or Catholicism. I decided on attending Sunday School at a local Presbyterian church that had a lot of professional musicians and put on a couple musicals each year. I knew before I attended that I didn't believe in God and that I was definitely not a Christian but I agreed with my parents that it is important to learn about religions. So I learned about Christianity through musicals and Sunday School.
I've never liked the word God. I wouldn't even say it out loud when reciting the pledge of allegiance. I'm sure that statement offends many people and I mean no harm. I just don't like the word. The word implies to me that God is human-like, has a gender (He), and is an all-powerful individual.
I struggled with the word and, because of that, considered myself to be an atheist. I did not believe we go to heaven after death and I never believed in some man in the clouds deciding our fate. I especially hated the saying, "God doesn't give us anything we can't handle." Um, there are people all the time who can't handle what life deals them. I've seen it first-hand many times. So, no, I don't believe in God.
Growing up I used to pretend I did believe in God to see what it would feel like. I would try praying, especially when I was mad at my parents, and prayed to God to take me away or tell me I was adopted. I would sometimes look for God in the clouds or in the rustling of the leaves when the wind blew through the trees. He was never there.
Then something changed in me this past year. I learned that I cannot control everything (always going back to perfectionism). I think I often stepped in my own way instead of letting my abilities lead me to where I wanted to go or, even better, where I should be headed. The point is that I don't determine what happens in my life. What I do have control over are my actions and what I allow into my life.
I don't determine what happens in my life. What I do have control over are my actions and what I allow into my life.
I started stepping out of the way and seeing what the universe had to offer. I did this by taking it one day at a time and having no expectations about anything. At least I've tried. I did this by listening more to others and really paying attention to my gut. If I wasn't sure about the next move, I didn't make one. I did this over and over. Or, rather, I didn't do anything over and over. This concept is completely new to me. I've always been overly ambitious which I have now realized has been to my own detriment. I move so quickly that I don't always take it all in and I don't let the universe unravel my path at its own pace. I was always trying to hurry it along. Patience is a virtue that I do not possess.
I began to pray. To pray for clarity, serenity and patience. I prayed out of desperation and I prayed because it couldn't hurt. I didn't pray to God. I was reaching out to something bigger than me. Something inside of me. Something that I believe is inside all of us and connects us as living beings.
I was reaching out to something bigger than me. Something inside of me. Something that I believe is inside all of us and connects us as living beings.
Slowly but surely, the answers started to appear. I'm still waiting for a few more but I'm listening. I've started seeing "signs" again like I did when I was a kid. Things that happen that are far more than coincidences but not quite divine intervention. I believe its me stepping out of my own way. Letting life show me what's going to happen next. Call it what you will, but this is my version of faith. I have more faith in myself now that I ever have and I have no idea what's happening next. Faith is the key to believing that everything will be alright. Faith is knowing that I can survive whatever happens next.
SIDE NOTE: I'm a work-in-progress and these are all skills I have learned that are making my life better and hopefully turning me into a better person. I still have a long way to go and don't want anyone to think I have it all figured out or that I have checked anything off my self-improvement list. This process is life-long. I still fumble and fail to follow everything I've learned but, when I do, I try, try again.