When I first started attending services with George and his son, I noticed Junior really did not enjoy Sunday services and would rather be anywhere but church. This went on for a few years and after he made his confirmation I asked him if he enjoyed going to church. He answered no.
After further discussion, he revealed he goes because he was afraid ‘God’ would be angry at him and he would not go to heaven if he did not attend church services. I asked him if he knew the difference between ‘faith’ and ‘religion’ He responded, no. I went on to explain my understanding and how I live my life when it comes to God.
I believe ‘faith’ is God made in that our higher power watches over us and is there for us when we need Him and wants the best for us. We all have a purpose here and it is up to us to live our best life and discover what our purpose is, for the time we are here on earth. Religion is the rituals developed to worship this higher power. I went on to explain that man has judged, persecuted, enslaved and killed for the sake of ‘religion.’ However, ‘faith’ appears constant, forgiving, non-judgmental and peaceful. Faith is not dictated by exact location, time and ritual but merely a sense of calm and being. Not to say church is not important and should not have a space in our lives. But, we should be there because it helps us to be our best and give us a sense of peace and purpose while there.
I ended my thoughts by telling him that I did not believe ‘God’ wanted him to sit in this building to be unhappy and that church was wherever his heart and mind was at peace and where he could be his spiritual best. He felt better and I was able to relieve the guilt he had been feeling. He does pray every night and we still have discussions about religion, but we let him off the hook about attending services each week. He will attend from time to time, but it is his idea to do so.
There are hundreds of religions around the world. Each with its own nuances and spin on the ‘higher power.’ But all have the same theme of a higher power. Even though I consider myself to be a ‘Christian’ I do not believe all other religions have gotten the message wrong. I believe as humans we all have a piece of the puzzle and it is only when we leave this earth we know the truth. Because of the atrocities committed for the sake of religious beliefs, I have reached my own conclusion regarding the meaning of religion.
At the end of the day I just try to be the best version of myself. I am not perfect and do find myself making judgments about others or showing annoyance about a situation. But I try to identify those moments and change my mindset. For me I work harder on my faith and let religion take care of itself.