I was raised Christian. My domination is Baptist, and I honestly have no complaints regarding my childhood in church. My grandmother is easily the most religious person in my family. Far from a zealot, but she is the matriarch, the queen and we all obliged to make her happy. What we all know about Black Church is it can be a long day on those wooden benches, but it was always entertaining. From Sunday School with “Sister such and such”, to morning devotion, the hour long sermon, and last but not least the call to fellowship. I did it all from a youth usher, to the children’s choir. I enjoyed that so much I eventually upgraded to the women’s choir. I deeply appreciate the fundamental ideas instilled in me at church. It fined tuned my moral compass and created boundaries around my big heart.
I haven’t regularly attended church since I was 15. Nearly 11 years later, I have no plans to ever resume that ritual. I enjoy going once in a blue moon, it’s the nostalgia of it that draws me in. I love hearing gospel songs and an ambitious sermon, but the questions I started asking in my early teens would never be answered in church. “Why are there 3 offerings in one service?” “If the holy trinity is the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost, then where is the mother?” Most of the time I would be given long elaborate explanations that never really made sense or answered my questions, or simply told to stay in a child’s place.
In High School, I started learning the history of the Bible and how it was written in a dead language in a largely illiterate society. Which of course generated more questions. From that point I began an unconscious search for God. I read a lot of material about human spirituality, reading about Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. I learned that Islam is the most practiced religion in the world, and Hinduism also had a widespread following and it made me wonder. “How can someone go to hell when they never even knew Jesus existed?” I felt my way through some deeply spiritual moments, including sleeping under a blanket of stars on a boat in the Pacific Ocean.
During a bout of depression in my early 20s, where everything seemed too hard for no reason, I began praying and reading the Bible again. It was what I knew best. I found parts of it to be absurd but I mostly found it to be inspiring. When I stopped trying to understand every verse in every chapter in every book, and instead viewed it from a general overview it read like a guide on unconditional love. From Job’s unconditional love of God, God’s unconditional love for his son, and Jesus’s love for the world. Every Bible story has an underlying theme of love conquering all obstacles. 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 is still my favorite series of versus in the Bible. If God is love and love lives and is manifested inside of us, what does that make us? What about the other organisms on the planet? Since God created all that we know and see on this planet and beyond I started to look for God in the animals, in the plants, and in my child. I read more about science, math, and how it is ever present in everything we see.
I came to understand the universal order that encompasses not just humans, the planet Earth, and the galaxy, but the entire Universe surrounding us. So after years of unconsciously looking for God, I consciously came to the conclusion that God is an energy that flows through all living things from insects to stars. God lives in all of us, and we show our best love to God by showing the best love to ourselves and to each other. I am in no way suggesting that anyone should lose their religion and follow the ideals I have. I believe each of our relationships with that higher energy of influence is deeply personal. It should be shaped and defined in the way that works best for us on an individual level. For me, I find peace in believing that all religions can co-exist. That as long as the world keeps spinning and the sun keeps rising and setting that we are in flow with all things. I love the air I breathe, the people I meet, and pure simplistic beauty that surrounds us every day. I found God in the flower that grows in between the cracks on the sidewalk, and in the intricate patterns of butterfly wings. So what does God mean to you?