Friday, January 13, 2012

Belief Takes on Doubt: A Personal Stance

A friend shared with me this YouTube video that was apparently all over Facebook night before last:
I'm Facebook-free since 1988, so I was oblivious.
If you have seen it, what did you think of it?
Let me be up-front -- I'm not advocating for any particular religion, sect, denomination, or belief set. I'm merely sharing with you my story.

See, I was raised in the United Methodist Church. That means organized religion. That meant church every Sunday growing up. That meant Sunday School every Sunday beforehand; choir from preschool until I graduated from high school; mission trips from sixth through eleventh grades; Methodist summer camps from second grade through graduation from high school; various ministry volunteerisms, such as acolyting from second through twelfth grades, and other church activities.

My family and my church are not the hands-in-the-air, moaning and swaying and passing out, convert-or-die types. Rather, we're merely devout Christians. I didn't participate in all of those activities because I felt forced or pressured, but because I was interested and curious.
In 9th and 10th grades, I definitely questioned my beliefs, my parents' constant and unwavering beliefs, and whether God was listening to me. I think a lot of this uncertainty was due to my best friend at the time, who put a lot of doubts in my head. She was very persuasive and manipulative, and I was feeling pulled in several different directions. Hey, I was 15 or 16, chock-full of raging hormones, and trying to find my place in a very aggressive high school.

My incredible experiences in college (e.g., meeting the love of my life, earning my goal GPA and graduating in 4 years, and my membership in Alpha Delta Pi sorority), as well as what I think of as a new life and a fresh start, reconnected me with God. I so rarely doubted that God was listening and helping me through every difficult test, every knee-knocking presentation, and every harsh conflict with my apartment roommates. My parents, my sister, and Ian's close presence also helped get me through a lot of the tough stuff :)

So... What's my point in all of this?
Well, if you watched the YouTube Video, you likely saw that the man who posted the video posted this message underneath:

"A poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it's core Jesus' gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover the truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair..."

I enjoyed the video, and I definitely found it enlightening and refreshing.
However, I'm a firm believer in the mission and teachings of Jesus, but I was also raised to believe that the church and the Bible deliver those teachings and that mission to Christians everywhere. What I'm saying is that I believe in both entities and that they can coexist peacefully.

The friend who sent me this video has a lot of questions and doubts about God and religion in his own life. We frequently discuss the differences between our beliefs and the ways in which we practice Christianity, but we don't often agree when it comes to this difficult subject. Sometimes, I feel a twinge of that old doubt creeping back in, but I remind myself of my personal beliefs. I'm not one to shove my faith on others, and I try not to allow others' doubts to cause me to question something in which I deeply believe. 

P.S. Please weigh in! Did you love/hate the video? Do you ever question yourself or your belief system? Do you worry that others' interpretations might affect yours, or that theirs might be correct and yours incorrect? I'd like to hear what you think!


Amanda Jean said...

I haven't seen the video, but I think questioning ones beliefs is all apart of growing up and truly figuring out who one is. I'm not religious, but I am spiritual, I believe in a higher power, just not necessarily a set religion. Sometimes I worry that I'm wrong in thinking this, but then I decide that I am who I am, and that I was made this way on purpose, so I'm expected to be just that, myself!

Girl Emerging said...

Good to hear from you! I completely agree -- I think most people are spoon-fed religion, particularly as children, so questioning what you're taught is not only natural, but probably a healthy expression of maturing. I also agree that people are made to be who they are, and that each of us was created uniquely for that specific purpose. Thanks for reading! I hope you'll stop by again :)

Colleen said...

I loved the video. I thought it was beautifully spoken and it wasn't coming from a hateful place. I'm Catholic, but I often found myself questioning the reasoning behind the church. Now that I'm older, I have a very strong relationship with God/Jesus/Mary/the whole shebang and while it's rooted in Catholicism, I can appreciate why someone does not agree with organized religion.

Girl Emerging said...

I definitely wish I could word things as well as he did in his video. I also wouldn't mind being a YouTube sensation, especially about something I really believe in! Hey, I guess we're all cut out for different things, right? We can't all be YouTube stars and rant about our college ;)

Colleen said...

Yeah, because I'm not really big in intellectuality and I wish I could just take classes about how to post videos on YouTube and/or how to be a flight attendant.

PS - My mom IS flight attendant and I wanted to punch the 'youtube sensation' right outta that girl

I'm done now ;)