This I Believe

Kate - Jenison, Michigan
Entered on February 6, 2007

I believe…that I don’t care where the world came from. I don’t care whether there was “Big Bang” or a “Master Watchmaker”. I just want people to get along.

Call me shallow. Lacking depth. I don’t care. You see, I’m married to an atheist. And he makes a strong, logical case against the idea of a Supreme Being. He points out how much wrong religion has brought to the world: wars over religious beliefs; intolerance of anyone who doesn’t fit the “Christian” mold; blind obedience to less-than-noble clergy– the list goes on and on.

And yet, I have four siblings who are all deeply religious. And they point out the good parts of religion to me— sermons about kindness and love, avoiding temptation, practicing forgiveness.

And I am stuck in the middle, and I hate it. I’m tired of the back and forth e-mails supporting one view or the other. I hate the awkwardness of family visits where people I love have such vastly different world views. Who am I to side with? Which position should I choose?

I know what you’re thinking. “You don’t have to choose”. But you see, I’m a developmental psychologist, and a strong supporter of Erik Erikson’s belief that a primary task of life is to “know oneself”—to form an identity. And part of that journey is figuring out what I believe about something as important as where we all came from, and whether our lives are guided by a “Higher Power” or not. And I am currently in “moratorium”on this issue — still exploring and never quite able to commit one way or the other. This is an anxious, lonely place to be.

I have tried church. I really have. But every time I think I’m making it (i.e., doing what I “should” do, feeling how I “should” feel), the minister says something that pisses me off or confuses me to no end, and I’m lost again. I sometimes wonder if I will ever truly “find Jesus”. And if finding him means acting as intolerant, rule-oriented, and dogmatic as I see so many Christians being, I’m not sure I want to.

But then comes my mother’s voice. “You don’t have to be that kind of Christian. You can go to a liberal church. You can interpret the bible as you see fit. Embrace the goodness of Jesus—the kindness, the love. Ignore what you disagree with”.

Oh, I like that! But unfortunately, then my sister’s voice comes to me: “The Bible is the Word of God”. Not sure I want to argue with the most powerful being in the universe (God, not my sister). J

And so there you have it. And that is why I’ve decided that I truly don’t care where the world came from. I just want people here on this earth now, today, to start treating each other with kindness and respect. To show kindness wherever they can, to whomever they can. To live a “good life”.