I love how I’m living in a society where people of all genders, cultures, backgrounds and religions are able to love one another. I know that our world is still not quite at that point where everyone can freely love the person their soul has chosen without fear of persecution, but we can proudly say we’re coming along in leaps and bounds and slowly are streets are safer now than it was back then. Freedom of love is becoming a movement and more and more people are coming around to the idea that the new ‘normal’ isn’t what it used to be.
It’s sad that love is still something so many people have to fight for, it’s a right but in so many countries it’s considered a luxury. We’ve still got a long way to go, but let’s first celebrate the progress we have made as a human race.
I know that sadly there are still people being killed for who they love, this isn’t right, but today I want to concentrate on some of the positive things.
I met my partner at University. University I have found is a great hub of lots of different people with different beliefs and varying backgrounds where we have the opportunity to learn more about people we may not necessarily get to meet elsewhere.
I was born and raised in a community where religion was a big part of our life. Being Catholic (or some variation in the Philippines) we were baptised/christened practically at birth, we went to Church every Sunday as well as other days during the week. We participated in Church events, we prayed, we followed by rules good Christians are meant to. I grew up believing that being Christian was the only way to be a good person.
Then when we moved to the UK, our religion wasn’t as heavily influenced in mine and my sister’s upbringing. In fact, we still attended church for a short amount of time, before my Mum decided to attend Jehovah’s Witness’ gatherings, which we were brought along to. I never really understood that religion could be chosen and learned, rather than born into.
There had been many times during my life I had questioned my own beliefs, but ultimately here is where I stand:
I believe that we are all able to find a path to enlightenment, I believe we can all be good people based on the choices we make, I don’t believe that a person who does a bad deed is going to ultimately end up in hell, I do believe in rehabilitation. I believe we can make up for our sins by doing good, I believe there is God, and we have angels who look out for us, I believe God hears our prayers, but he does not interfere with how we live our lives. I believe that God existed once, he was a man who did good and tried to lead people into a safer, happier, better life but that we weren’t ready for it yet. Do I believe God walks among us? Probably not, I believe spiritually he is in all of us, helping to guide us into a better way of living, a better side of us, it’s up to us to choose whether we want to follow in his light or not. I am dubious of the bible, I struggle to believe that the God I love would promote hatred over other beings. I don’t believe God actually taught his people to hate people for being Gay, and when I said this to another fellow Catholic, they told me I knew nothing about God. Whilst that was one opinion, I still consider myself as a Catholic. I hate, hate, hate the whole idea of organised religion, because the most pain and suffering I have felt at the hands of people have been from ‘good Catholics’. They were the most judgemental and hating of me, that’s okay, that’s their prerogative. But I have met so many good and loving people of different religions and I accept everyone has their own beliefs, which we’re all entitled to, and I will not be the kind of person who stops someone from believing what makes them feel better and happier, even if it’s not something I agree with. So, I believe in God, but I believe the words of hatred we find in the bible was written by someone who misinterpreted what God had said. I believe the Bible is filled with opinions of closed minded people.
I have a guilty thing to admit, though.
I feel scared wanting to say it…but here it goes.
Whilst I am open to hearing other peoples beliefs, and I enjoy hearing people talk about those religions I don’t understand or don’t know about.
I am both frightened and put off by people who have no belief at all. Atheists. I am trying to change my view on this. I want to live and act the way I preach. I want to welcome anyone and everyone in my life. It’s just I struggle to understand why Atheists don’t believe in any God, who do they pray to? If they don’t pray, then how do they recover from life, of constant trauma and pain? Honestly, if I didn’t pray for half my life I don’t know if I would have recovered from some of the truly horrible things that have happened to me. I know I’m not a by the book Catholic, but I find so much comfort in praying and feeling like God can hear me. I know not everyone believes in God but having been brought up to worship him, I still struggle to feel comfortable when I find out someone doesn’t believe in any God or spiritual being. I don’t know why, ahhh I can hear how crazy I sound already.
So when I met my partner, religion wasn’t exactly something we touch on. In fact, we talked about pretty much every aspect of our lives and ourselves but the only thing we didn’t really talk about was religion. I figured he knew where I stood with my faith as I had my bible on my table.
It wasn’t until much later when we had been together a few years that I realised my partner was an atheist. In story telling over the years, I would mention God and how I felt he helped me through some struggles, I never considered his silence was because he disagreed with me. The thing is in this day and age religion shouldn’t be a big deal in relationships, especially if like me, you don’t attend church every Sunday.
But as time progressed and our relationship blossomed, conversations of the future began to crop up, we’d talk about having kids, how many we would have, what we would call them, how we would raise them.
“I’d like to christen our kids.”
I said to him one day, he thought about it for a moment and then shook his head.
“I don’t want to force our future children into any religion, I want them to decide for themselves.”
He replied simply, his answer caught me by surprise because he’d never really shared his opinion over religion. I didn’t think it would be a big deal for him. This conversation eventually lead to an argument, where I tried to protest my need to have our future kids christened but promised not to force them into any religion until they were ready to decide, at which he pointed out that christening them was forcing them into a religion and that his compromise would be if we waited until they asked to be christened and only then could we christen them.
I’ll admit now that this one conversation alone created many other occasions when religion came between us both to the point where we considered ending our relationship.
The thing is until we had that conversation, religion never really played any part in our relationship. We never thought it would make us fight but once it did we figured religion was the problem. But it wasn’t, the problem was our view over each other’s beliefs. We eventually reached a compromise that would make us both happy and that we believed would be something that our future children would be proud of.
We also learned how to coordinate our lives around our differences, he was more accepting of my love for God, and I learned to understand that whilst he didn’t believe in God, it didn’t mean he had no faith at all, his faith lay more in humanity than in a spiritual being.
The thing is, religion is a big part of peoples lives but it shouldn’t be all of it. People from different religions should be able to have, as happy, and healthy relationship as anyone else, if anything the differences in faith just means that there is more to learn about each other. Love doesn’t know religion, colour, race, gender or diversity. Love is for everyone and anyone willing to give and receive. I think I played into the problem that so many people do, believing that if someone doesn’t agree with the most important thing in my life then it means they’re only meant to be a friend or passing acquaintance, but in reality, my love for my partner has not lowered since our faiths made us see our big differences. If anything I love him more for being able to stand strong to his beliefs and for not making me question mine.
All in all, that’s all we want for our children, whatever religion if any they choose, I just want them to be happy and have made the choice based on what they felt was right for them. As long as they’re not hurting anyone or forcing anyone to follow in what they choose, I will be happy to raise non-Christian children if that is what they wish, because my partner and I feel it is more important to have our children grow and discover in an environment where they feel it is safe to do so.
We may differ in our beliefs but my partner and I love and respect each other enough to know that by trying to change each other it will only make us loose the parts of ourselves that made us fall in love in the first place, our relationship isn’t based on religion and we feel it’s more important to be good people doing good things rather than the holy or spiritual facts that for the time being is irrelevant in our discovery of our own path.
I hope that you someday find someone who will join you in your adventure to your happy ending and that no matter what race, religion, gender or race, you will love them truly and deeply just the way the world intended.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!
Peace and Love