Can You Feel God?

Rebecca - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Entered on February 16, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

For as long as I can remember, I have gone to a Unitarian Universalist Church. Most students my age aren’t always focused on religion, but I find it fascinating. I ask people to describe their faith to satisfy my sociologist-like curiosity. My church is complicated. I appreciate the religious freedom I am bestowed with, but now I see every religion as “a path people take” and nothing as “the path I take.” Even though I feel unbound because of the religious freedom, I also feel I’m lacking something in my spiritual life because there is never anyone telling me what to believe. Being Unitarian Universalist is a big responsibility. It would be easier if something just jumped out at me and made me feel whole, but I’ve been taught never to consider one religion “the best.” I’m supposed to create my own faith, but I don’t even know where to begin.

I discussed religion with a friend that goes to a very strict Christian church. Our conversation started by me explaining what Unitarian Universalism means to me. He asked how we could accept all religions when they are so different. I told him it’s not that we practice all religions, we accept all religions as a valid path of worship. I also told him my personal belief that no religion is perfect, that I was going to find my own faith. He got really angry because he thought Christianity was perfect. He said everyone feels God differently, and he could hear God, and experience God. I asked him what it was like, but he couldn’t find words to describe it. For me, God is an experience, and maybe I hadn’t even experienced God yet, because I have no way of knowing how God feels, tastes, or sounds.

If there are no words to describe the “God feeling,” then everyone must feel it differently. He said the rest of religion was just something he did. He goes to church on Sundays because he’s supposed to, says grace because he’s supposed to, but worships in his own way all the time. This was profound to me. I go to church, and you go to mosque, and you go to temple, but every religious being comprehends something greater, God or no, all the time. It’s not something they stop. Everyone experiences God in their own way, so how can anyone say the Muslim way, or the Jewish way, or the Christian way is better? There is no proof of the existence or nonexistence of God, or whether one religious path to God is better. That is a matter of faith, not fact.

So which path should I choose? That’s the question that affects me constantly. My faith in God doesn’t let me experience God in a way I am conscious of. I don’t think I would know God if God happened to me, so I continue searching for faith. My biggest fear is: how do you find faith when the only thing you’ve ever been taught is that faith is right for the people who practice it?