I am not a religious person, and I never have been. As you can imagine, this statement doesn't win me a lot of friends. But, I don't feel "lost" or "uncertain" about my spirituality. I absolutely believe in the greater good, in something bigger than myself, and above all else, I believe in love. The problem is, until this past year I kept looking for "it" where most people do, in church. This is not to say that people cannot find peace and happiness in a church. In fact, I have great respect for religion in that it has the ability to bring out the best in some people. It provides comfort and strength to people when they have nowhere else to turn. It just doesn't happen to be where I've found mine.
I try not to get wrapped up in the idea of heaven and hell being real, but I certainly think about it from time to time. I think that I, like most people, would like to believe that heaven exists. Of course everyone would like to believe that losing a loved one can result in something positive. And, I will admit to having read, "Heaven Is For Real" and taking great comfort in the author's idea of heaven. I absolutely believe in the existence of Hell, because I've been there. For me, it isn't a fiery underworld dictated by a fallen angel. It's being thrown in the face of your biggest fear, and the feeling of helplessness and powerlessness that goes with it. And as awful as it is to realize that you are experiencing what no one would argue is indeed "hell on earth", it also happens to be the very thing that brought me to my current state of spiritual peace.
This is where my belief in love above all things comes into play. When I felt lost, with nowhere else to turn, and I was begging and pleading for someone to tell me "why", I got an answer that I didn't expect. I will never know the "why" of any situation, but somehow that doesn't seem all that important anymore. I don't believe that there is some vengeful, wrathful god handing out punishments, deserved or otherwise. I feel that examples such as these are the reasons that religion sort of loses me. I believe that life just happens, and it's what happens DURING the tough times that give you strength and peace. It's the people around you, lifting you up and giving you a portion of their own inner strength that keeps you going. PEOPLE are what matter, and their love and support during times of great pain is more spiritual than any sermon I have ever heard. For me, "God" is making a warm meal for anyone who just needs to know that someone cares. It's hearing words of encouragement from those around you when all you can see is despair. It's offering money, food, services, or just an ear when someone truly needs it. I believe that there is nothing that we can do as human beings that means more than loving each other. No rules, no judgements. Just love.
Many of you will see a parallel between my beliefs and parts of religious belief, and I wouldn't deny that for a second. I welcome ALL support and ALL prayer. It makes me feel good to know that people would take time out of their day to pray for ME. Because prayer is important to them, and they take comfort in it's power and ability to restore their faith. What could ever be wrong with accepting that? So, I say thank you for your prayer. Thank you for sharing your faith with me. It matters to me because YOU matter to me. And I will never be lost as long as I have you.