Something to believe in
My religion is great — religion itself is just as good
I can always count on a few things when I come home to Blacksburg for summer break. Among these things are sunset hikes, Cabo Fish Tacos and always church on Sunday. It doesn’t really matter how late I’ve been out the night before or how many other things I have on my agenda — my parents like going to church with me on Sunday, so that’s how it pretty much always goes. I like it, and every time I go I tell myself I should really do this more often (or, at all) back at school.
So yes, if you were wondering, I would qualify myself as a Christian. I believe in God, read the Bible on occasion and pray (especially frequently when life gets rough). Maybe it’s because I was raised going to church, but after almost two decades of Sunday school, youth group, Christian retreats and camps I am convinced there is a God up there, somewhere, who loves me. Contrary to how my parents and some others interpret the religion, I have grown to think the most powerful thing about Christianity is God’s unconditional love for all of us — and consequently, learning to love others so compassionately like Him.
Like any millennial, I’m sure, however, I’ve had my doubts. As a naturally skeptical person, I often question what’s real or not and have trouble completely blindly trusting something that hasn’t really been proven to be true. By no means do I consider myself a devout Christian. There’s the I-only-go-to-church-twice-a-year-on-Christmas-and-Easter Christian and there’s the I-go-to-church-twice-a-week-and-mission-trips-each-summer Christian, and I’m somewhere in between, maybe leaning towards the former. I think that’s why I am allowed to say what I’m about to say, as in, I’m not sure an evangelical devout Christian would agree with this, but this is what I’ve come to believe — Christianity is great, but religion itself is (almost) equally important.
I pretty much stripped this right off of my final paper on the Dalai Lama’s autobiography for my Buddhism class this past semester, but it’s something I have believed for a while. For me, as a Christian, going to church is a refreshing experience, meditating on the Bible is calming and I always pray at night before I sleep because I like to. Even more so, my faith has always been the one consistent thing in my life when times would get rough. When faced with high school drama, family issues or college stress, I’d pretty much always fall back on my faith. In times of sadness and chaos, it is nice to know that there’s someone up there that still has your back. Believing in something greater than oneself can help put life into the perspective that is often missing during these times.
But I’m not trying to say religion is only important in times of need. I think believing in something makes us more accountable humans too. One major influence of most religions is causing many believers to practice compassion and love, and in turn, presumably, these acts will one day be rewarded (either by eternal life in heaven, the end of the Buddhist cycle of samsara, etc.). Thinking there is someone or some greater spirit upstairs watching over us and holding us accountable positively influences the way we live our lives and treat others.
Also, and I’m not trying to get too deep here, I think believing in something greater than ourselves gives us more of a purpose in life. We are no longer pursuing success, money, status or all those other come-and-go material things — instead, we are pursuing our spirituality. I think if you were to ask most religious people a list of their priorities, their religion would be pretty high on that list. For their faith, religious people are willing to compromise diets, put countless hours into church and worship, go on trips to third-world countries, practice obscure rituals and the list goes on. I’m not sure these same people would be willing to do these things for just a job or even a close friend.
At least for me, my religion has gotten me through some tough times, and it keeps me hopeful for my future. It’s a constant reminder to love others and keep an open mind about things. In my head, my God is someone who loves unconditionally, works hard and diligently, withholds judgment on others and, of course, always has my back. No matter how you interpret it or what faith you decide to pursue, I think it is important to have something to believe in.