And Also with You

I am very hesitant about discussing this topic. But it’s also a big part of my life, so I feel I wouldn’t do myself justice, as the blog being a reflection of my thoughts and opinions, without at least mentioning it at some point. This topic? Religion and spirituality.

This because I am one a huge proponent of a very distinct separation between church and state. When I hear other people talking about church in an everyday context, I am suddenly on edge. Especially if they’re people I don’t know very well. I despise people who shove their religious beliefs down other people’s throats. I’ll be the last person to pray in public or even feel comfortable using “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Growing up in the conservative Midwest, I’m sure you can guess that I’ve faced this situation fairly often. I can’t drive down the interstate without seeing at least three billboards about the sinful nature of abortion. Heck, I remember a pro-life group bringing cupcakes to school. Or a speaker, originally supposed to discuss drunk driving, which turned into an all-out church service. I was about to run out.

Even with all of this in mind, spirituality and religion are very important to me. Such a complicated mindset, I know. But I’ve always thought of religion as a very private, personal aspect of life. You avoid in everyday conversation, just like politics. Not unless you want to start a fight. And for someone who avoids conflict like the plague, I’m already walking away.

Admittedly, I haven’t been to church since who-knows-when. I do actually enjoy church. I like having a peaceful time to reflect and focus my attention beyond my own little struggles. I grew up with religion always close by. We didn’t necessarily go to church every Sunday, but we did say evening prayers. I’m actually thankful we didn’t routinely go to church. I see far too often people that go to church constantly and yet live a life that is anything but holy, as if a church service will redeem them. Yes, I am a poor church attendee, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe and appreciate spirituality’s importance in life.

And spirituality looks different for everyone. I believe every religion has an importance in life. There is one no better than the other, just different modes of touching on a greater power beyond the physical world, and I think that’s beautiful. I love learning about other people’s beliefs, how the interpret the world differently. Religion is so ingrained in our ethnicities, cultures, and histories, that it’s just another side of our lives to think about.

So, liberal and spiritual. Someone who was raised in a Christian household, but also appreciates science and knowledge. Someone who is very doubtful about a majority of the Bible. Someone who is monotheistic, yet still practices yoga and meditation in accordance to Buddhism. In recent years, I have definitely found myself gravitating toward the individual journey of spirituality versus the strict guidelines of organized religion, and according to recent trends, I’m not the only one. I feel like religion too easily becomes a purpose fulfilled through external perceptions. In some cases, yes, that’s just being a decent person. Spirituality is just another aspect of our overall well-beings. Whatever activity gets you connected to a higher power, whether that’s going to church, reading the Bible, praying, meditating, or just taking a walk through nature, take the time to do it.

Why am I rambling on about all of this today? My goal for this post is to show a way I wish others would discuss these topics, in a way that by no means perpetuates guilt toward believing certain ideas over others. Just simply sharing some of my own observations as I continue to discover things for myself. Because it’s really up to you what you choose to accept or not. Spirituality shouldn’t have to be sold to you. It’s out of personal motivation and an inner desire for something greater. It’s not a one-size-fits-all activity. In America, we have such a wonderful privilege of practicing whatever religion we choose. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to shout it from the rooftops. We have to keep an open mind and open spirit.

I discuss spirituality because it should be something you feel comfortable about, but comfortable enough that you don’t have to constantly bring up and preach about at every opportunity. We can each just live our lives, and if that turns into asking religious questions out of pure curiosity, in the right time and place, we should discuss it. Religion can go from a peaceful activity into an all-out war at the drop of the hat. With that kind of power, we have to learn how to use it wisely. But we also can’t figure that out without ignoring its existence completely.

So if it’s something I feel like discussing again in the future, I will. You’ll never hear me throwing out Bible quotes or anything, but from an objective standpoint. Because spirituality is important. But just as important is the way we address it.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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