I believe in God.
This leftward leaning, bleeding heart, to-each-his-own liberal believes in Him, wholeheartedly. It's religion that I have issues with.
It's hard to talk about Him without the worry of stepping on toes and making people uncomfortable, so mostly, I don't talk about Him. It's just that recently the church that I attend presented a children's program, and one of the songs that they sang struck a chord within me. It posed a question, asking when you would speak up about your beliefs. "Your silence speaks louder than words". When I heard that line, that's when I started writing this post. I couldn't let the words that I don't say speak for me any longer.
I'm not interested in debating science or evolution or dinosaur bones. Because none of that will change what I know in my bones. I know that there is a greater power than us, I've seen it and felt it in action. This is a truth to me, and it is my truth. It doesn't have to be your truth, and I'll like you just the same if it isn't. Because the God that I believe in doesn't judge, He accepts.
I understand why people have issues with God, but I think that many of them are tied to religion. It took me two years to find the church that I now look forward to going to each week. In those two years, I can assure you that there were many times that I walked out of churches crying and felt further from Him than I ever had. The first time that I walked into this church, I started to cry. The stained glass on their windows were simple words. Peace. Hope. Joy. Love. The exact same words that I see each day when I get home from work--they are the stepping stones on my path to my house. Like most things in my life, I think God was showing me where I didn't belong so that when I discovered where I did, there would be no doubt.
What is it about churches, congregations, religion that makes people believe that they are better than others--that they have the right to run airplanes into buildings and judge and condemn and belittle in the name of God? (Yes, you can belittle people with your side-ward glances at me and those two little golden-haired angels that hover near me. I can feel the sting of your decisions about me when you give my empty ring finger a quick glance. FYI: That is so not what Jesus would do.)
Walking into a church doesn't make you a Christian. It's what you do when you walk out of that church that is the true expression of faith. I know many, many good people that don't attend church, and that's alright with me. I don't think I'm the type of person to force anything upon anyone, but I've been surprised by the reactions of even those closest to me when I mention God.
Two of my friends and I were together and I'm not sure how the topic came up, but one of them said to the other, "Doesn't it annoy you when she says 'I'm praying for you' "? I was shocked. She quickly followed up by saying that she knew I meant it in a sweet way, that I really believed what I was doing was making a difference to her somehow. I made a mental note not to tell either of them that again, but guess what, J? I still pray for you on a daily basis. I'm just quiet about it now, because I don't think God would want you to be uncomfortable about Him. He's understanding in that way.
I don't believe that my faith makes me better than anyone; I'm completely aware of my faults and struggles and areas where I need so, so much improvement. I don't believe that anyone should use the bible or God as justification for cruelty to others, in any form. I don't believe that literal interpretation of anything is necessarily good, and I have a hard time with some of what's in the bible, I really do, but I have a harder time thinking that there is absolutely no truth to any of it.
I do believe that God works in very quiet ways. I do believe that the most important things that He tries to get across are often overshadowed by the pretenses of religion versus the core of faith. "Love your neighbor as yourself"--I think he meant that. Some obscure passages that people use as carte blanche to justify reasons to hate, judge or kill--I don't think they were meant in that way. I think even all those years ago, radicals saw religion as a mean to their end and some of those words were woven into passages that inspire those same type of individuals today.
For those reasons, you can call me a Christian of convenience. You can call me a dumb blond. You can leave me a message citing numerous verses of the bible to try to scare me into being a bible-thumper. You can tell me I'm going to burn in Hell for eternity.
None of those things will scare me or hurt me. Because Jesus saves.
And He saved me.