My long-overdue apostasy
Growing up in a Christian home, I was taught to pray. And so I did: before bed, meals, exams and bus rides.I prayed so much I’m sure to have prayed for world peace at some point.
I carried this habit into my adolescence, growing into a passionate believer of my faith throughout high school. I’m pretty sure I was a big pain in the ass at the time.
I took every opportunity I could get to convert others to my faith. Fully convinced that I was 'saved,' I persistently badgered friends to accept Jesus as their ‘Saviour.’ I gave unsolicited guidance as a 'believer'; presumptuously doling out Bible verses as if they were freshly-baked cookies. I imagine people wouldn't mind having a freshly-baked cookie when shoved under their noses, but the same can’t be said for bible verses, can it?
So before I continue, I sincerely apologize to those who had to endure this brief phase when I foolishly fancied myself an evangelist. I honestly wish I could bake you all real cookies. (READ: What makes Catholicism a happy religion)
I left my hometown for college three years ago. I was itching to leave home and chase big dreams in a bigger city. I was thrilled by the idea of living in a completely different environment and the prospect of ‘saving more souls.’ Undaunted, I prepared for my faith to be tested. And tested it was - wavered it did.
Let’s just say three years of living independently exposed me to a variety of novel experiences. My daring was fueled by the thrill of having no authority figure to check and reprimand me. I soon found myself taking part in what my Christian family deemed ‘worldly behavior’ --- which meant the typical activities of the juvenile. It never got out of hand. I partook in occasional debauchery but was always attentive to my limits; my grades remained unharmed.
However, I crossed enough of my own lines to incite an internal struggle. I had no quiet in my thoughts as my behavior grew inconsistent with my religious beliefs and vice versa. I thought myself a hypocrite. I started doubting the logic and premises behind my faith, then dismissed these doubts as mere justification for my ‘transgressions’. I feared negation of the faith I was so passionately devoted to.
My resistance to the truth was futile. Stimulating philosophy classes finally instigated an enlightened self-examination and introspection became a habit. Inevitably, my beliefs and perceptions in life changed.
I write this now with the intention of coming out of my proverbial closet. As William Ernest Henley would put it, I’m now the ‘master of my fate’ and ‘the captain of my soul’.
This will cause dismay to some people in my life. Most especially my mother, whose unwavering faith in her God I have great respect for. I’m sure to be ostracized from the church in which I have spent countless Sundays in; some members of which I already consider family. But I can’t keep up the hypocrisy of feigning interest during mass, or praying to a god I no longer believe in. It’s unfair to sacrifice the integrity of my own beliefs for others to have their peace of mind. It's been rather lonely, to feel stifled in my own home.
I don't regret growing into the person I am now. I don't believe that losing my faith in a higher being diminishes my value as a person, nor does it corrupt my character and compromise my talents and abilities. Despite my flaws and limitations, I found security and comfort in myself as an individual. I’m happy in this self-reliance; in trusting myself to deal with and overcome my own hurdles; in accepting realities I cannot change.
I have never felt as at peace with this life and its uncertainties as I do now. And when I feel insufficient, there are trusted friends whose help can easily be sought.
Responsible for myself
Needless to say, I no longer pray. To breathe is now my religion – to wade through days in acknowledgment of their absurdity; to smile in the face of what is on my plate; to revel in the now and all that comes after.
For the most part, I take great pride in assuming complete responsibility of my actions. The decisions I make in this life are my own, and so are the consequences. I won’t deprive myself of entitled control over the course of my existence and all the experiences it has to offer in exchange for consolation afforded by an illusory one-way ticket through the pearly gates of eternal paradise, or live in fear of being thrown into the fiery depths of hell. I refuse to yield my fate to a supposed higher being pulling the strings from upstairs.
I am my own God.
Now, there’s no need to feel threatened or spurn a person who lives and breathes in accordance to his own norms and morals, especially when he does so with sensibility towards the society in which he is a part of. A godless man is not necessarily an evil man. He can endeavor to serve others with empathy and kindness as much as a person who subscribes to a religious doctrine can. He has the capacity to love and hate just as much as the next person does.
Cliché as it may be, people often forget that the world is not black and white. We have the liberty to draw our own lines in the sand and we should let others enjoy that for themselves too. So long as a person makes a conscious effort to be a decent human being, as I believe I’ve been trying to, there’s no need to be intolerant of his personal beliefs.
So in the hopes of being afforded this courtesy, here comes another unsolicited, clichéd advice: Live and let live. - Rappler.com
Joanne Abigail E. Dela Cruz is a fresh college graduate and avid fan of Will Ferrell.
Photo from Shutterstock.
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