My father’s agnostic, and my mother’s catholic, so am I supposed to be somewhere in the middle? But when I was eight, I didn’t know what the middle was. Either there was a God or there wasn’t. My dad tried to clear this up for me by reading to me from some of his enormous ‘God books’. The books generally asked the ‘common sense questions’, like “If there is a God, how can he let innocent children die every day?”. As I grew older, I began to discuss these questions with my father, and even invent new ones like, “Who decided what parts of the bible should be left out?”, and “If the bible was written after Christ’s death, how do we know the disciples told the whole truth?”, or , “Couldn’t the bible be just a fictional story written to teach morals?”. I mean, if we had any proof that Jesus was the son of God, it wouldn’t be called the catholic faith now would it?
One day when I was pondering, I thought of something brilliant. My family was on a road trip to Michigan, and my dad was driving. I unbuckled my seat belt and wedged myself in-between the two front seats. I took a deep breath and began to explain to my dad how God was like an imaginary friend. I could tell God my deepest secrets because I trusted he wouldn’t tell anyone. And I pointed out that saying, “God punishes the wicked”, and, “Don’t be mean to me or my imaginary friend will beat you up!”, are very similar. Except the first one is a Sunday school regular, and the second one got me teased for weeks. Then I asked if maybe someone once had an imaginary friend named God. And instead of getting rid of him when he grew older, he convinced others to worship him so no one could tease him.
My dad smiled and talked about how some think that their sole purpose in life was to spread the word of God. If it was suddenly proved to them that there was no God, they would feel lost and confused. So I realized I needed to have my own religion. It would be based on the catholic faith, but I would pick and choose the things I believed in.
Now, at fifteen years old, I answer the religion question with “I’m catholic”. But I view God more as a friend, simply because a friend is easier to confide in than an almighty God. But it’s important why I believe in god. It’s for the same reason I believe in Santa Clause. No matter how many times my friends tell me he’s impossible, I still like to imagine a large, jolly man, giving everyone the spirit of Christmas. So I guess you could say Santa is my warm holiday feeling, and God is my imaginary friend, but my belief in them has helped me to have a more pleasant outlook on life.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.