I don’t remember how it came to be that two 8-year-olds were talking about the existence of God during a bathroom break; I just remember that I was one of the 8-year-olds and I happened to be feeling all existential. I don’t remember the entire conversation, only the part where I looked at my friend Erica and asked, “what if there isn’t a God.”
Erica promptly pulled the nice janitor in on the conversation and the two practically performed an exorcism on me right then and there. “How can you not believe in God,” they yelled.
Having grown up in the south to an atheist mother and agnostic father, my only understanding of God were the lessons that my grandmother had tried to teach me. If I don’t get baptized, I am going to Hell. And most importantly, it is not okay to question God, religion or the Bible.
My mother was firm in her insistence that I didn’t discuss church or religion with my friends. I guess it was best they not know we were heathens. It was our family’s dirty little secret. Keep in mind that this is the same family that was known on occasion to attempt levitations at Christmas parties and consult psychics for professional advice.
Just to make sure I wasn’t a total outcast, mom got me a nice leather-bound edition of the King James Bible for Christmas that year. My name was etched in gold lettering on the front. I read the first few chapters of Genesis, then skipped straight to Revelations, which lead me to a morbid preoccupation with the end of the world.
I’m certain that mom meant for me to become holy by the process of osmosis. Maybe if I sleep with the Bible under my pillow it will all make sense to me. Otherwise, how is an 8-year-old supposed to tackle the Good Book alone?
For the next decade, I wrestled with my faith. I even toyed with the idea of becoming a theologian. I majored briefly in Philosophy and Religion and I went to a couple of Christian churches. But the most interesting religions to me were the Eastern philosophies like Buddhism and Hinduism.
Ultimately, I decided that no matter the deity, I couldn’t get my heart right with worshipping anything. I just had too many questions.
If it is possible to firmly decide you are uncertain about God, then that is exactly what I did. I was not sure about much of anything, much less who created the universe and why. It almost seemed arrogant to claim otherwise. This approach to my spiritual journey ensures that at least for now, there are no limits to my wonder.
I can discuss religion and God in a completely open minded way. I am not ruling out anything. And for now at least, I am satisfied pondering the endless possibilities of not knowing.
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