I’ve tried countless times in my life to be religious. Not unlike many people, I too craved that sense of community and a place to go to or a process to participate in either in thanks for good times or to seek support in bad times.
Unlike many, I didn’t grow up as anything in particular. Dad had gone to a Universalist congregation on Christmas and Easter as a kid. Mum played basketball at the Presbyterian Centre and that was about the end of it. As a child, I played violin in a Baptist Church orchestra but that was as far as it went.
In my 20s I discovered through a little family digging that many (although not all) on mum’s side were Jewish so I gave that a whirl. I wasn’t unhappy being a part of the Jewish community, but my career lay outside of it and that caused me considerable problems. I either couldn’t get hired, couldn’t get promoted, or had to endure all manner of snarky comments based purely on my new found faith.
I quit practicing the faith in large part because the burden of putting up with constant never ending discrimination just didn’t seem worth it to me – it wasn’t a burden I wanted to pass on to my future children – considering my interest was fairly new anyway. I still endure job discrimination because of my last name, but until my boyfriend comes to his senses and marries me there isn’t much I can do about that.
Next up came the Eastern Orthodox. Well my boyfriend is Ukrainian so that is where it started. I attended classes for about a year. I liked the deep sense of history and tradition in the community. It seemed it wasn’t muddled by a billion different interpretations/translations like so many other branches of Christianity. It was like Christianity in the original form in which it was intended to be practiced. I also liked the beauty of the churches, so I suppose the faith appealed to the artsy/cultural history buff in me.
My problem came when I moved overseas. The Priest who had been nice to me all that time and who I thought was my friend along with others in the group never answered a single letter I wrote to them once I left. I felt massively betrayed. All that talk of love and community seemed to get flushed down the toilet the minute I wasn’t going to be a financially contributing church member anymore.
So I’m in quite the quandary. The realist in me says that religion in any of its various forms are essentially man made hocus-pocus revolving around imaginary friends and superstitions. So to most I would probably be considered an atheist.
I want to believe, I really do but no one has ever convinced me. Honestly I think of all the Priests, Preachers and Rabbis I’ve ever met – no one ever really tried that hard. It was like the minute you questioned the rationality of anything, they wanted to be rid of you because they couldn’t transcend the bar to belief I had set – which to be frank wasn’t nearly as high as they seemed to perceive it be.
I must admit I still yearn for a sense of a place to go, of a community to belong to where I’m accepted for who I am and not for money or who someone wants to mold me to be something that fits their box. Society seems to all but demand we be “something.” It’s awkward living on the outside. You constantly feel you have to go into long explanations or apologize for being a rational doubter. Yet despite the loneliness, I think at the core of everything one must be truthful – that is probably the only “faith” per se that we can all agree on.