Losing My Religion
By Ericka Clay on January 06, 2011
I used to believe that Catholicism was the one true religion. No ifs, ands or buts. I used to practice a faith that was ingrained within four secular walls and detailed, literally, by the Book. I thought everyone else was wrong, that I was right, and that there was no room in Heaven for those whose thinking didn’t sync with mine.
Now let me be clear. I was not a hateful person. I was raised to respect and love others by two of the kindest, smartest people I know. My parents didn’t teach me to shut myself off from others who didn’t have the same views. But my religion did. Even though I wanted to accept everyone I still had this tugging on my heart as if my church had grown fingers and was trying to drag me back inside. Needless to say, I was confused.
So I decided to shut God out because for me, God was religion. There was no such thing as spirituality existing outside the confines of those four walls, at least not to my knowledge so it was either be eaten by the cancer or cut it out completely. I chose to cut it out.
I didn’t start drinking too much. I didn’t try drugs or have sex with random people. I still stayed on the straight and narrow (for the most part) but something inside me felt different. It felt lonely.
I’d live my life, go to school, hang out with friends, and write. And every day I would meet people who were religious and accepting or spiritual and accepting or atheist and accepting and everything started to confuse me even more. And that’s when I started to realize: what needed to change were my perceptions of others, of God and of myself.
I started to understand that labels didn’t matter and neither did a person’s proclivity for church or their stance against it. What matters is how we treat people, what we’re breeding on the inside of our hearts and the hope we have for ourselves and others. I realized that Church never made me shut out those who didn’t think exactly like I did. That was all me.
And now? Now I’m looking to find God everywhere and in everyone. I look forward to the quiet, to closing my eyes and feeling like every single one of my nerves is at peace. I enjoy talking to my husband about God, praying with him and our daughter before we eat and vowing to start listening to the rosary in the mornings, inviting the calm into our home. I like writing and hearing from people how I’ve helped them realize a different part of themselves, a humorous side, a hopeful side. I no longer think in terms of church and pews and stained glass windows. I think in terms of people.
Ericka Clay, Writer