I had a talk the other day with someone I’ve just recently met, and the conversation of our spiritual beliefs came up and I realized that I hadn’t thought about this in a while. There was a time in my life where I often questioned what my beliefs about God, religion, spirituality were. But honestly I kind of just kept coming to the same conclusions pretty much every time. And now it’s something that I rarely ever think about.
We had absolutely zero religion in my house growing up. Outside of weddings or funerals, I think I’ve gone to church two times in my life. Both times were because in order to stay the night at my best buddy Jared’s house on Saturday nights, we had to attend church on Sunday mornings. I was probably 13 or 14 and all I remember was the song that went “hallelujah, jesus christ is lord,” a bunch of times and going up to the front to eat the cracker and grape juice. I remember asking Jared repeatedly “they aren’t going to give us wine right? I can’t drink!”
As a kid I think I thought I believed in God just because that’s what you heard on TV and movies all the time and that’s honestly the only place I remember hearing about him as a kid. Other than my dad taking his name in vein during a baseball game that is. It just was never brought up and I don’t remember ever really asking my parents about religion or God. I don’t think I really cared to be honest. I was too busy with baseball after all to worry about such small things as eternal life and the creation of the entire planet.
I think my dad getting sick and dying was really the first time I truly started to really look internally at any spirituality I had. I suppose death is a normal time to question such things. It sure wasn’t for my dad. I remember a friend of his even asking a couple weeks before he died if he wanted to read the bible or had questions about God and my dad just quickly turned it down with no interest in hearing him out. The night before my dad died I remember saying out loud “Just let him fall asleep and not wake up.” He had been in such pain and discomfort and was ready to go. I woke up the next morning at 10am and went out front. He was sound asleep. My uncle came over and within an hour, Dad quietly passed away. Didn’t make a sound or a movement. HIs body just kind of turned off.
That moment certainly made me question if my prayer was really heard. I mean it kind of happened how I asked. And it happened to be the one time I’d really asked the universe for something really important. I mean I’d asked to hit home runs in baseball games and for a girlfriend, but this was a real request. A real prayer of sorts. It stuck with me for years as maybe some kind of hint towards something greater.
In the times that I have explored my faith though, I’ve kind of always come back to the same answer. I don’t believe in any religion or a particular God. I’ve just truly never felt it within me. And maybe that’s where the ‘faith’ part of it comes in. Maybe people who do believe just have faith and not a true feeling or sense of God. But I would guess that’s not the case. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be wrong and there’s a heaven and hell and we all get to live in some form forever. I just don’t have the faith that’s how it goes.
For this reason above, I used to be absolutely terrified of death. I thought about it all the time. A major part of my anxiety was always thinking I was going to die. I became a hypochondriac. I was consumed not so much about what happens after death, but rather, what happens just before and during it. The ultimate lack of control at that point. I wonder if in that moment maybe I will find spirituality and faith. Or just frantically begging for it? But I suppose, if it is something I see coming, I’ll just close my eyes and try to give in and be open to the approaching nothingness. In recent years though, my fear of death has waned. Maybe it’s just getting closer to it myself and realizing the true randomness of the universe and that tomorrow I or someone I love can be gone. I think accepting and almost embracing the uncertainty has helped me not to worry about it.
Even though I’ve never been someone who believed much in a higher power, I don’t begrudge or look down upon those who do. Quite the opposite, I admire people who have faith. I sometimes wish I had it. But I think that as long as people aren’t hurt, shunned, or stripped of their rights because of your faith or religion, we have no issues at all even though we have different beliefs.
The one thing I always come back to in any conversation on religion or spirituality is energy. I do believe in energy. I don’t think my dad is up above looking down on my from heaven. I do however think he still lives in my brain and heart while I’m still here. The figurative heart, not the literal one. I still can faintly remember his voice, his hands, his mannerisms, and his words. They live on in my memory. They still possess an energy because those memories can still trigger emotions and feelings within me. And I think that goes for everyone who lives on this planet. We all connect at some level with someone and after we die I do believe some energy from us remains in this world. So while it might not be an eternal afterlife, it is a sort of ‘life after’ no?
I know this is a potentially sensitive topic to write about and for some to read. I want to be respectful about the topic but also honest with my own self about it as well. As I said, it’s something that hasn’t really been a part of my life. It just is not on my radar, which I’m sure sounds crazy if you’re reading this and spirituality is a key tenet of your life. But that’s how it is for me. I imagine my curiosity and exploration of my own spirituality will ebb and flow at times. I want to be openminded enough for if I do have a change in philosophy that I’m ok to go with that. But 42 years in, hasn’t really changed yet. But life has a funny way of sending us on different paths sometimes, so we shall see.