As I’ve been reading through a number of the posts and comments here on BBT, I’ve been struck by the number of people who use faith and religion as a source of healing and inspiration. I also sense there might be people struggling despite this quality.
I hope this message comes across with the simple, positive intention with which I write it.
It’s OK if you DON’T have faith.
I was born and raised/indoctrinated Roman Catholic. I had the simple, uncomplicated trust in the doctrine and the stories that any child has, because I–like all children–was incapable of taking them at anything but face value.
But my life experiences and my questioning nature have destroyed not only my belief in Catholicism, but in the existence of a God, as well. The older I got, the more the placid off-the-shelf answers of the clergy rang hollow and hypocritical. I found honesty in those who admitted to now knowing all the answers, rather than trying to rationalize why the real world doesn’t always follow dogma. As comedian Julia Sweeney put it so elegantly, the universe functions exactly as you would expect if there were no God.
To some, this is a nihilistic statement, but to a skeptic, it is a positive affirmation in which we take strength. And–are you ready for this? Brace yourselves–I’m MORE at peace now than I was when I believed in God.
Now that I have left behind a belief system that did not work for me (and has failed countless others throughout the centuries), I now turn to means of self-healing that actually WORK.
I no longer see depression, self-loathing, and shame as the reaped harvest of sown sins. I see them as medical and psychological problems for which there is medicine and counseling available. Whenever I do wrong to another person, I no longer seek the sanctity of the confessional; I seek that person’s forgiveness. It’s more satisfying. I never did find comfort in prayer, especially Catholic prayer (every time I hear the word “rosary,” my eyes glaze over). Instead, I find great peace in the meditative and physiological healing of exercise, namely cycling and, more recently, running. I no longer seek answers in an ancient text which cannot provide them. I seek comfort in my great friends.
The stories I have read on this site have moved me sincerely to tears. I admire the resiliency of those who have overcome trials that would have broken me. To those who are struggling, I have a simple plea: take comfort in good people. It is the most soothing formula I have ever found.