This I Believe

Sam - Atlanta, Georgia
Entered on April 1, 2009

I think that religion is a beautiful thing. It can save your life, if you let it. But it can hurt you if you are to serious about it, too literal. Religion is an abstract thing, with no absolutes, and to believe in it, you must suspend your disbelief just a little.

I do not consider myself religious. At all. I am not a Christian, like the rest of my family. I am not Jewish. I do not practice Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism or Jainism. But I’ve researched them. I’ve read the King James Version of the Bible. I’ve studied some in school. I’ve read books on each of these religions and even Googled them. I know more about these religions than some people know about their own.

I personally do not think religion is a necessity. I think that it is more of a privilege, an honor of sorts to be able to believe in a higher power and stay true to that. To put all of your faith into one thing; one thing that you have no real proof of actually existing. It takes a lot of guts. And for that, I have to admire anybody who is truly devoted to his or her Higher Power.

I envy my friends who can pray to a higher power and be one hundred percent confident that someone/something is listening to everything they say, and that they actually care. I wish I could believe that there is something out there. Something greater than any living person. Something that created me. Something that truly and unconditionally loves me. But I don’t. And I think I’m okay with that.

Some people call me an atheist. In fact, when people ask me what religion I am, I usually just say I am an atheist, because I think it’s easier to say that than try to explain what I really think about religion. I think most people that say that they are atheists are just like me. They just don’t feel like telling you the truth, they’re too lazy to really sit down and think about it, or they just don’t care. I am not like that. I do care. I care a great deal.

There are stories that tell of people close to death. They came so very close to dying, but survived because of their faith. Most people roll their eyes at these stories, and most of the time, I can understand why. Some of these stories are completely ridiculous. But occasionally, when I hear these stories, I can’t imagine anybody rolling their eyes at them. And even if it wasn’t God, or whoever their Higher Power was, that saved them, I can’t help but wanted to cry. Not sad tears, bad tears, or whatever you call them, but then again not necessarily happy tears either. If I had to give them a name, I guess they were tears of awe. Tears of admiration. Tears of jealousy.

The last time I talked to one of my friends, trying to explain my fascination with religion, she asked me, if I loved religion so much and if I envy people with faith in their religion so much, then why didn’t I just get a religion. It took me a while to answer. But then, I laughed. She made it sound so simple. Just pick a religion and stick to it. Just start believing in something, no questions asked. I explained how it’s a lot harder than it may seem to choose a religion.

I’ve thought about it a lot since then, and I still haven’t picked one. I even tried to mix and match different things from different religions to try and find the perfect one for me. It hasn’t happened. And I’m starting to think that it won’t happen. I’ll most likely keep trying, as I grow older. But I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to the point where I know exactly what I believe in. And I think I am okay with that. Because although I have no set religion, I do believe that I have faith. Maybe not faith like everybody else has, but it is faith, and that’s good enough for me.

So what do I believe in? I believe that religion is the biggest gift anyone can have. I believe in the power of faith.