Religion is something I have struggled with my whole life. Truthfully, I have spent most of my life not even knowing or putting much thought into what I believe to be true. Having a child has made me want to know, made me want to explore my faith and spirituality because how can I ever teach her to be herself and stand up for what she believes if I don't know what I believe and can't demonstrate the same?
So after much thinking, pondering and internal battling, here is what I do know about what I believe:
- I believe we create our own happiness. There is no destiny or predetermined path laid out for us in which we have to fulfill to be happy; happiness is achieved through learning to appreciate the good in our lives and not let the bad get us down. Happiness is 90% mental and 10% circumstances.
- I believe no god or higher power exists as a judge of whether we are right or wrong and good or evil, and I do not agree with such being used as a scare tactic to convince people to do the right thing. God is not a being which exists or has ever existed, rather the image of a divine being was created as an example of how we should strive to live our lives.
- I agree with the moral lessons that can be found at the root of most organized religions. Compassion, caring, hope, grace, selflessness, acceptance, love, and honesty are all values I hope to be able to instill in my daughter whether through religious exploration or otherwise.
- I believe the search for spirituality should be about creating a good life and finding inner peace without regard to living impossible standards. For me, faith is not about a greater being -- it is about creating a framework of morality and hope.
- I believe the earth was created by a series of scientific events with no supernatural intervention. I believe in evolution and the science that proves it. Nature in and of itself is a miracle on earth and there is much to be learned from it.
- I believe evil and wrongdoing are a result of human nature, lack of morals and values, and poor judgement. I do not believe we are being tested or that a force exists solely to tempt and encourage sin.
- I believe life's purpose is about the journey, not the endpoint. The ultimate goal is to look back and have no regrets; to live life and die happy. To live for the afterlife is to always be searching for something better which ultimately hinders having happiness today (see bullet 1).
Just before moving, a friend brought Unitarian Universalism to my attention. After further research, I found a Unitarian church in Davenport and was drawn in by this statement:
We believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the
final authorities in religion, and that in the end religious authority lies not
within a book or person or institution, but within ourselves.
Isn't it beautiful? To me this boldly screams, we create our own happiness. It says that it doesn't matter if you believe what I believe, as long as we're both fulfilling our spiritual desires we are both right.
So we decided to give it a try. Last Sunday I willingly went to church without pressure or peer influence for the first time in...well possibly ever. I went confidently knowing that I would not be judged or told what to believe.
Unfortunately, Nora had other plans and her patience only lasted about 10 minutes into the service. My thoughts and absorption of the environment were far from uninterrupted as I suddenly became more concerned with my restless toddler. We will try again this Sunday.