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  • Writer's pictureLily T

Opinion : First time at Church

Updated: Jan 22

Last Sunday I stepped foot in a church for the first time. After partying with a friend and staying up until 5 in morning she mentioned she was going to church and for some reason I was in the exact mindset I needed in order to finally get myself to go. I said goodbye to my Dad and let him know where I was heading and he jokingly told me he was worried and that I should be careful.

I did not grow up religious in the technical way most people would think of religion, my parents didn't believe in any "higher power" but they both believed in routine. I came across Buddhism when I was in high school and I found many of the beliefs matched my own. I still agree with many of those beliefs, but I wouldn't consider myself a Buddhist. I was very turned off by the idea that many religions held, that their religion was the correct religion and the only "real" way of life. The lack of humanity I sometimes saw from deeply religious people for others with differing beliefs or no beliefs at all, was never something I felt I could get behind. In many ways I still agree with that. I don't think that believing in something higher than you should be the sole reason to be a good and decent human to yourself and others. That being said I also understand that sometimes religion helps people to better themselves or to find a purpose in this life, and that it why religion can be such a beautiful thing.

Believing in something and practicing that every single day is (in my opinion) an important part of mental well-being for humans, and whatever that ends up being may be good enough. For example, it could be as simple as having a consistent activity you participate in with friends, alone, or with a community who enjoys it just as much as you do. I have always struggled with routine but my Dad is a prime example of a routine based life. He enjoys many different sports, all of which he claims are a form of therapy for him. He consistently goes swimming in the ocean with his good friend, trail runs with his dog, and plays Ultimate Frisbee with an amazing community. Those routines make him an innately "religious" man. I am also religious, but in a bit of a different way. Like I mentioned I struggle with routine, but I do have genuine beliefs about higher power. That being said... I just cannot with good conscience say my beliefs of life and higher power is the "correct" way of thinking.

I talked about all of this with the Pastor as church. He was understanding and shared his beliefs in a nonjudgemental manor, which I appreciated. I think the intention someone has when talking about difference of personal belief is a very integral part of having a conversation rather than an argument. After talking with him for about an hour and half after service we came to the conclusion that we were talking about similar ideals, similar goals, and similar human experiences. All of which were the main things that bring humans together in the first place. Of course there are major differences, after talking he still was firm in his belief of heaven and hell, which makes sense. If I had gone there expecting to change those beliefs I would have come out of that church feeling the failure of it, he is a Pastor after all and those beliefs are ingrained in his life. Raw human nature is childlike, open, forgiving, gentle, and simply beautiful. The issue of that nature changing cannot be based on religion, or the lack of, but instead on societal issues that are both systematic and oppressive in different ways for every individual person.

One of the most important things that I heard from him was that he also believed that religion could not "fix" the worlds problems. War, conflict, climate change, hatred, racism, oppression, misogyny... the list could continue. Although I was happy that he agreed with me that religion was not the "one answer" to fix that, it of course didn't help anyone in figuring out what that thing (or more realistically... things) would be. I think we all wish it was an easy solution, but at the same time some of us see different things when we picture peace on earth. There is no one answer to fixing things, there never will be. All we can do is our best to take care of ourselves and others around us. A routine and or religion may help, that's to your discretion.



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