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   We take little things for granted, its a fact of life. When was the last time you realized how thankful you were for something small like shoes, or your fingers? Ever wonder what it feels like to not have little things you have but others don’t? Ever wonder whats it like to be on the other side of the story? I remember at the conference back in January we were asked to take a side depending on the question. If you were heterosexual you went to the majority group side, homosexuals went to the targeted side of the room. Christians and Roman Catholics on one side, other denominations or non-believers on the other etc. Back then I realized how there were certain benefits I had for being part of the majority in some group categories. But I didn’t really see the change or the effect it would have moving to the other side of a group.

I recently came out to publicly say that I am agnostic. Previous to that I would classify myself as a Christian. After all that’s how I was raised, that’s what I knew, that’s what my family is a part of. Many times people would come to me, make conversation etc. and somehow the topic of my religious affiliation would come up and I would answer with: Christian. I got the “Oh that’s great! You were raised with values etc.” because I was seen as a Christian. People seemed to like that. Ever since I began to reply with: Agnostic, everyone seems to look down on me. Now I get “Oh” or “I’ll pray for your soul” or “You’re wrong, you’re unhappy… etc.”. I’ve had people unfriend me because of that, others to argue that my beliefs are wrong and whatnot.

I didn’t think that living in today’s society being part of the non-believers would be so different. It really is different on the other side. I may be agnostic, but that doesn’t mean I lost my values, my ethics and morality. I know right from wrong, I’ve read the bible too, I’ve followed the traditions, I know them. Now to people I seem like a bad influence, a bad person, just because I believe in something different. I haven’t changed, I’m still the same person, with different ideas. I took for granted my “benefits” of being a Christian but now that I am part of the targeted group I don’t mind not having them anymore. Why? Because I’m standing up for what I believe in too. I would rather have no “benefits” than to keep pretending someone I’m not just to please others. So think of me as the bad influence, the black sheep, the outcast, but I’ll smile because I know who I am, and I know I’m not pretending to be someone I am not.

Smile, different doesn’t always mean bad. 

I have a friend who says that our beliefs don’t change but are often oppressed by the rules of society that are instilled upon us since we were born. According to him, the time when we feel that our beliefs change is not necessarily change but the reinforcement of what was always our truth. I have come to be a believer of his philosophy and I agree with it.

Photographer: Chris Brackley

When I look back at my childhood I see the impact that religion had in my life. I come from a strong Catholic background on my fathers side and a strong Christian view from my mother. Interestingly my mother’s side is not very religious, at least my grandpa never pushed religion, he believed that a balance of good and bad is a personal thing. Perhaps that’s were my beliefs originate from.

Religion was never really a thing that was necessarily pushed on me but it was somewhat expected. I attended church with my mom on Sundays, I was taught to pray, to be a good Christian. Can’t I just be a good person in general? That was always a question I asked. At one point I thought that my life was to serve the God I was taught to believe in, to stay in church and continue serving by helping others. Everyone had high hopes for me at church. Then I decided that I wanted to continue with my education, I was going to college.

A part of me always knew who I am now, or who I have come to accept to be. I remember praying once when I was a child, I apologized for not fully believing in the man I came to know as God. It didn’t matter because I continued with it, I attended mass, I tried to learn. Deep down I knew, I knew who I was.

I no longer label myself as a Christian but an Agnostic. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I don’t believe in a higher being. My thing is science, I like to find proofs, to find reasoning and that is what I believe in. I love to learn about religions, I find it very interesting. I may be wrong, maybe there is a tangible higher being. I’m an agnostic, this is who I am, and it doesn’t matter who thinks I’m right or wrong or who judges me because to me this is my belief. I believe in science, and I’m lucky to have a family that supports me no matter what.

Smile, stand up for your beliefs.

Book by: Dr. David Jeremiah

The title of the book was what got me captivated in the first place. Living with confidence in a chaotic world… think about it. We turn on the TV and we hear the news and its usually a lot of negative things going on. Theft, murder, extremists of all kinds, people fighting over the slightest of differences, global warming… the list goes on. You go online and its the same thing day after day. So when you look at things that are being presented everything seems to be in a state of chaos at times. The economy isn’t that great, sometimes we have a bad day, and if its not us its someone close to us.

How do you keep your life straight through all of this?

In my attempt to find some answers I gave the book a go. I have to say it was a very positive experience. I’ll be honest I didn’t expect the book to be as religious as it was presented but it was actually pleasant and welcoming. I read the book and took a look at my life and I realized that there was a lot that I could work on myself. I liked the book! It was uplifting and optimistic about everything that is going on. It’s one of those books that I would definitely recommend to others (actually I already have). So if you ever get a chance to read it, do so I’m sure it will make you think and it will make you feel like there is always hope even in the worst of times. =)

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for this review.

Smile! Read a book that will lift your spirits up!

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