With great emotion, a stranger enlightened me about how his new found love for Christianity had turned his life around. Over the years, this conversation between him and my mom (that I eavesdropped on) has greatly impacted me, and helped me form my belief that only an individual can decide what religion he truly believes in and would like to follow.
As a little kid, I did not think for myself and just listened to what my parents told me to believe in. As I grew older, my brain began to filter what they told me, and I blindly accepted less and less of what they said, religion being one of these things I filtered.
My dad’s side of my family is completely Catholic, except for me and my brother. Throughout my life, I have heard and learned a lot about the Catholic Church, but never believed in certain aspects to the faith. For example, I never accepted the idea that the Pope is the leader of organized Christianity chosen by God. All along, my mother has shared my views, and had doubts about the Catholic Church. She often went to the local Congregational church on Sundays and dragged me along every now and then. I felt caught on the fence between the Protestant and Catholic churches, although it seemed to me that most of my family would be more satisfied if I remained Catholic.
One day, I found motivation to switch to my mom’s church in a place I would have never expected to find it. As my mom, brother, and I flew to visit my grandparents in Illinois, my mom and I were seated next to a kind, talkative man. In the beginning of the ride, he and my mom exchanged small talk here and there, which progressed into a regular conversation. He explained that he had been raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, but never felt like his religion was his own. While he was traveling in Israel, one night, out of curiosity he started reading the New Testament. That night, he claimed to have been spoken to by God and had the epiphany that he was supposed to be Christian. After this transformation, he was shunned by his family and never forgiven, but claims that this transformation improved the quality of his life.
This story pushed me onto the Congregational side of the fence that I had been stuck on. I can tell that my dad’s side of my family looked down on my decision. I, similarly to the man who I met on that plane ride, do not regret my decision because I did not feel comfortable practicing a religion that I did not personally believe to be correct. Since I joined my new church I have prayed religiously before bed and am confident in my new faith. From this I have learned that a man is the only one who knows what religion he belongs to.
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