It's been quite a year for me. It started off with my boyfriend telling me he wasn't sure if he still believed in God or not. Where we come from, everybody does. If they don't, they don't say so, because it's expected of you, and you will be shut out of the community if you don't agree with their strong one-way religious beliefs. It wasn't the kind of place you'd really call diverse.
I panicked. I loved him, I wanted to marry him, and from what I learned growing up, he would be damned to hell and I would be shunned in my hometown if I were to stay with him anyway.
Now this wasn't any small puppy love. We'd been together for several years and I couldn't imagine my life being any better than with him. So we talked... and talked, and talked, and talked. We discussed, listened, and expressed to each other from the bottom of our hearts what we believed and why it was important to us and how we could make this work. We looked at several different materials, supporting belief in God, and otherwise. Over time, once I shook what had been so adamantly penetrated into my brain as a child, I came to realize I'd been following the wrong path. Religion doesn't make sense to me, and it's not what I want to do anymore. I want to mention I mean no disrespect to any kind of believer out there, as long as you know what it is you believe and stick to it. Following something you're passionate about is admirable when it isn't forced on anyone and you're not out to discriminate those with different views. And now I've found mine.
After I had that moment, that I finally knew, "this makes sense to me, and I won't go for hell for it. It's okay to consider something other than what I was taught", it was a HUGE relief, I've never felt so light.
When we came to an understanding of what our lives meant now, my boyfriend and I got engaged, and are now married. I've never made a better choice in all my life.
Now as we live our new life together, our world looks completely different. Luckily we have each other to help each other through it. Ever since this decision to live for myself, and for the ones I love, I've come to realize how much my sense of self was being squashed down as I was growing up.
I still find myself praying quietly when something goes wrong, then remembering to shake it off. And I have to say, this INFURIATES me, because when I pause and reflect within myself, I know that I 100% am sure in my beliefs right now, and the reason that I find myself praying and reciting little religious phrases that became a part of my daily life has NOTHING to do with my beliefs, and EVERYTHING to do with the way I was brought up.
and now Christmas is rolling around. A whole holiday for me to smile and pretend I believe in the same thing as my family does (because they'd never understand), and try to find Christmas carols I can sing to myself that have nothing to do with Jesus.
I want my childhood back. One where I'm encouraged to be me without the chains of a God that isn't there. I want to live the free life I was told I had, and I want to go back and free my family too.