This I Believe

stephen - Aliso Viejo, California
Entered on December 6, 2007

Before I begin my story, I want to make sure and say that the purpose of this essay is not about religion. If anyone believes it’s about religion, that person’s missing the point. It is extremely important to clearly express our true points of view and what positions we choose to take. Every thought, whether coming from Shakespeare or an autistic child is genuine and every moment of a person’s life must have a purpose.

I had consistently attended a Christian church before I was even born, and it became an influencing part of my life ever since. Like any other young child, I was curious and intrigued by the concept of life, its purpose, and more importantly, death and the life after it. I was confident that the soul of a person must exist after death, and if people’s souls do fail to exist, I concluded that there would be no purpose and therefore no reason for me to live or write this essay.

When I was in elementary, I found my conquest to find the purpose of life fairly easy. The church my mom and I attended was conveniently a walking distance away from our apartment. My belief in Jesus seemed to grow each year as I matured and developed. He was the person I depended on and feared the most. However, I also depended and loved my father, who leaned most heavily on Buddhism, though he wasn’t involved in any of the religious practices.

I knew that those who aren’t Christian are to perish, so I was definitely concerned for my father’s happiness. During middle school, I first started to actually try to convince my dad to come to church with the rest of our family, though he was very busy with working at our smoothie store. I knew he felt bitter about us pressuring him to read the Bible and pray- it was difficult for us also, because although we wanted to save him, we did not want to irritate him and make him more openly opposed to Christianity.

Up until the beginning of high school, I became more active within my Christian community; I went to retreats, evangelism movements, revivals, and week-long mission trips to poverty-stricken parts of Mexico. My faith seemed high and I felt rewarded with the feeling of satisfaction. These events lead me to volunteer to become an Elementary teacher, when suddenly my dad decided to try and convert himself to becoming a devout disciple of God. His spiritual growth was extremely quick, regularly praying for what seemed to be hours and strictly reading ten chapters of the Bible a day. He almost immediately became a leader of our current church and sacrifices much of his time and effort, focusing more on the work of God than his own occupation.

Though my father’s faith grew more and more in a matter of months, mine seemed to fail. After experiencing what I learned was truth, I began doubting my own faith. I realized that faith is not blind. Faith must have a certain reasoning to support it. Faith is something beyond what any middle-schooler could grasp. Frankly, however, I realized that the only reason behind my faith was that I was born into it. I felt as if I had been manipulated. I wondered if I had been born in a Muslim family, whether I might have just as well been a devout Muslim as I was a Christian. I could have just as easily been a Jew, if I had been taught that it was the truth when I was a child.

When I look back at the things I did and said, I confidently, without question, claimed Christianity was truth, when it was solely the only knowledge I had. I realized that other people also have their personal truths, and that there are other worlds besides mine. Though I grew up to be a disciple of God, I wanted to choose to become a disciple myself. I do not want it to seem as if I was obligated to be one. I do not want to appear ignorant but rather practical in my decisions. If I had a choice, I would much rather have had been like my father, who seems to be more effected the most by his relationship with God than anyone else in my family.

We should take a stand for something not because we were raised up in a certain way but because we do with our own choice based on our observations and experiences. What we are taught as children may not necessarily be what we would agree with as adults. Opinions could change. Points of view can be persuaded. Ignorance in addition to arguments made without listening should be avoided to create a better society among others.