BELIEVING!! Oh my god has he lost his mind??!! I know many close to me were and are still thinking this but I haven't. I know that I have not lost my mind, I have just found a way to use it and try to understand it. Believe it or not, it is not a sin or the work of some devil to THINK. I have always had questions regarding religion and I now find it empowering to think things through instead of believing that I am not in control of whats going, which works best for ME. My way may not be the right way for you, but it is what works for me. There is no doubt that all still have questions but some have decided to search for answers.
Even when believing that "Jesus" died for my sins and that he's the way to a place called heaven, I still didn’t know. I can not remember a time growing up, going to my parents and saying to them, something seems to be missing in my life, I need to know more, help me to find my way. My parents decided for me, and introduced me to THEIR faiths, hopes and beliefs. Nothing wrong with that, they just did what they knew. I'm pretty sure that’s what happened with them as well, by their loved ones. That’s how systems and programs work. Religion was introduced to me as a child in cute little children's stories. I was told all about a savior named Jesus, who would take me to heaven if I just did one simple thing, believed in him. The image of Jesus looked nothing like me and the odd thing is, I would later find out that the he resembled people that did some awful things to people who looked like me. Still no one questioned it. I was also told about a very bad person named the devil. The devil was red, had a tail and carried a pitch fork. Should be pretty easy to find if I saw him right? I was told the devil wants to take all the people that Jesus loves and wants to save to a bad place that is very hot. As I grew older, the stories changed from cute to scary. I was told the bad place was hot because it was a lake of fire and was called hell. I was also told that whoever went to hell would burn forever and ever in this lake of fire. FEAR set in and what child who understands how hot fires can be wants to be in a lake of fire to burn forever and ever?! Most don't even want to speak to their children about death, sex or the adult things that happen in life, but have no issue telling their children about being tortured forever and ever if they didn't believe in Jesus. You can guess which road I decided to take and if you guessed I decided to believe in and accept Jesus, you are correct. I would get to be with Jesus AND my family forever and live in heaven, seemed simple enough and alot better than option number two.
So as I continued to grow up, I would do bad things or things would go wrong and I'd find that I would run back to Jesus and ask him to fix it. I also wanted him to know that I still wanted to come to heaven to be with him and that I was very sorry for what I had done. That’s usually how things went and it seemed to work. Still l had questions and then one day I noticed something in church that didn’t sit right with me. I would see the same people in church always going up in the prayer line. I also knew of other people who were believers who seemed to always be in the same condition no matter what. I started thinking these people surely seem like they are doing the right christian things why do they keep having to ask god for help over and over again and why is he not hearing their prayers? I knew I was not the model saint but I did not feel the need to keep asking the pastor to pray for me or ask god to hear my prayers each week. Most things I needed or wanted, I usually obtained mostly through hard work. Sometimes things just seemed to work out for me but I still didn't feel as if Jesus was looking out for me in particular. So this caused me to do a little thinking and searching for answers without having anyone else cloud my mind. That time clearin my head led me to a new understanding.
I now understand why it’s called believing. As the bible reads now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. When I examined this statement, I realized creation shows evidence every single day so how can I possibly agree that evidence to be unseen. Things hoped for; I have hoped for plenty of things in my lifetime and it usually included things that I seemed to not have an answer to. Now as I am older I can clearly understand the difference between faith, hope, belief and knowing.
Fear of the unknown can be and has been used as a powerful instrument. No one may know, but if we just believe it seems to ease the fear, still deep inside we hope that we have made the right choice. I could say I believed but reality always dictated over what I believed. No matter how hot the preacher said that lake of fire was it never stopped me from doing bad things and sinful acts against god, and besides that, I could always run back to Jesus and beg his forgiveness, tell him how much I loved and needed him and make sure I would still get to go to heaven. Thinking back on my childhood Jesus is just like Santa. He sees and knows everything I do, and if I am bad he won't get me what I want. Funny thing is most times no matter how bad I may of been, Santa seemed to always get me what I wanted and sometimes even more! I learned that even being bad, would not prevent me from getting anything for Christmas. Being threatened with Santa knowing I was not a good little boy did not stop me from behaving badly. So even when I am a sinful child of god, surely he knows that I could not be good, which caused him to send Jesus to die for my sins and as long as I believe in him, I still get into heaven!
If I am driving and I see a speed limit sign or the sign reading speeding enforced, it usually doesn't cause me to slow down until I see the evidence of someone actually enforcing the speed regulation. I can believe all I want but in reality clearly the five senses have always superseded any of my beliefs. The same way the hotness of hell didn’t really scare me enough from sinning it doesn't really scare anyone else either, especially without the evidence. Look at the horrible things that happen on this planet to both believers and non believers. Nature, reality and life chooses no sides. No one really knows and until the evidence is revealed people will continue to do bad things to one another. Even with evidence or what can happen, it still rarely deters people from making a choice.
I think ultimately people want the same things, answers and a better life experience. We sometimes get emotionally tied to our personal way and forget that just because it seems to work for us on a personal level does not mean it is the best and only way for someone else. We should grow to understand that some are seeking answers of the unknown and not relying on belief alone. I now feel religion is just another way to divide people into little groups and we must learn to work together in spite of our many differences. This is my story about why I no longer just believe I know there are many others with similar stories and feelings, let go of the fear.....
USAGE: WESTERN AFRICAN, YORUBA.