God?

Today I’m sharing something that maybe seen as controversial or may be hard for some people to read. Please know that I’ve tried my best to get my words out in a thoughtful way. I’m human. What you believe is what you believe, and that’s okay. We can still be friends. We can agree to disagree. Here are my thoughts on where my life experiences have led my beliefs.

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For the past two years I’ve worked with families of kids with cancer. What I’ve found is that as kids get sicker, families seek God. Each day I opened thank you notes from families across the country thanking us and praising God. Families of kids with cancer, thanking God, talking about how blessed they are. And I’d just sit at my desk and stare at the letters, feeling strangely proud and slightly confused. When the absolute worst happens, why is God the answer?

Over my two years, I had many intense conversations with loved ones about this. Each time I couldn’t see how any God would let such terrible things happen to wonderful families. To beautiful children. Any merciful God would not have let a dear friend of mine, age 18 and dying of Osteosarcoma, linger for so long, in so much pain. She retained her faith until the very last moment, while I lost hope of ever finding mine.

When I’d have this discussion with the faithful people in my life, they’d implore me not blame God. But if we can’t blame God for the bad, why should we praise him for the good?

I’ve had many people use the phrase “God only gives you what you can handle” and let me tell you, I (and many families I worked with) strongly dislike (see how I didn’t use the word hate? I wanted to, oh I sure did, but I didn’t use it) that phrase. I’ve yet to see a family who can “handle” the loss of a child or sibling. A piece of them is gone forever. This phrase doesn’t lessen pain or provide hope.

Certainly we can’t blame anyone but the individual(s) for human acts of terror. But when it’s something as tiny as one cell mutating (after all, that’s how cancer starts), who do we blame, God or science? Perhaps it’s my lack of maturity to look for someone, something to blame. Although I’m not sure how anyone could see kids dying and not look around and wonder why.

N and I have talked a lot about what we believe and what we want to raise our kids to believe. Neither of these involves a higher power. I’m a good person. I know that in my heart. A heart that doesn’t beat for Jesus or because of him. It beats because of electric impulses in my body. It beats because I grew cell by cell. Just as you may believe in scripture, that is my belief.

Until he met me, N had never been in a religious building of any kind. He hadn’t been in a mosque or a synagogue or a big stone Catholic church. He didn’t know what it meant that I was baptized Episcopalian but that I come from a predominantly Catholic family. He’d never heard the nicene creed and was shocked to see me recite it, word for word, the first time we stood in church together at the obligatory Christmas service. He had almost zero religious influences in his life. Today, he is one of the best people I know. We both agree that religion isn’t necessary to turn out “right”.

And I’m sure you’re wondering (or you know, without a doubt), what if she’s wrong? Well I might be wrong. With all the world religions, all the atheists and agnostics, someone has to be wrong. I’m telling you, it could definitely be me.

But here’s what I’m hoping: If there is a God, if I get up to those pearly gates and Jesus, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, or even my great-great grandmother comes out to greet me, I’m guessing they’ll know I lived my life in a good way. That I tried to help people. That my moral compass was strong and that I deeply loved and truly lived and hopefully, made the world a better place. And I bet they’ll let me in anyway.

So no, I don’t believe what most of the world believes. I’m definitely in the minority in blog world. But that’s okay. I sleep just fine at night.

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  • This is so wonderfully written. I’ve always believed in God and was raised that way but I’m not going to lie, those questions and/or doubts cross my mind too. And sometimes it does feel like everyone in blog world is so strong in their faith and feels comfortable expressing that, writing that, sharing that, etc. Plus, like you said, people can disagree about something and still be friends.

    • Thank you for the sweet compliment. I definitely feel alone/overwhelmed in blog world sometimes. I get that people care a lot about their faith, that it’s a big part of their lives. I just don’t always enjoy it when bloggers relate everything they do back to God. It alienates readers like me who can’t relate at all.

  • I hate it when people say “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Because it’s not true, nowhere in the Bible does it say that. In fact, the Bible is full of stories of people in situations they cant handle. Just… Gah!

    Sorry… Had to say that. But that being said, I’ll never get mad at you for what you believe. This is actually something I still struggle with and ask and wonder about. I’ve been going to church my whole life. I have a theology minor. I worked in a church for 5 1/2 years. I have no idea about the answers to this. Does God make bad things happen, or does he let them happen… I have no idea. When I try to think of the answers, none of them seem to fit or sound right. But I have learned that it’s okay to not have the answers and to be angry at God. I’ve learned that he’s big enough to handle my anger and questions and doubts. I don’t have to be happy with him 100% of the time or to know the answers to the tough questions and to doubt sometimes.

    But I also know you don’t have to agree with me. I never want to stop being your friend or stop reading your blog because you have different views than me, we can all share our thoughts and ideas and faith and listen to them when they are different. I’m not afraid to talk about what I believe, but if I ever seem to be shoving it down your throat or doing it in a way which makes you upset, please tell me. Because I would never want to do that, and that’s probably the opposite of what I’m trying to say. Because if I’m talking about God that’s not in a place of love, then I’m doing it wrong.

    ::hugs::

    • “But I have learned that it’s okay to not have the answers and to be angry at God. I’ve learned that he’s big enough to handle my anger and questions and doubts. I don’t have to be happy with him 100% of the time or to know the answers to the tough questions and to doubt sometimes.”

      This is exactly what I would have said. The question of why God lets bad things happen to good people is one of the toughest questions that we as human beings struggle with, even Christians. I don’t have the answer, nor do I know anyone who does, and I honestly don’t know if anyone ever will. Luckily “faith” by definition isn’t about having all the answers.

      • Abby G.

        I am glad someone pointed out that NOWHERE in the Bible are we ever told God won’t give us more (trouble/pain/etc) than we can handle. They are misquoting the verse about temptation and that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear and that God will always provide a means of escape from that temptation. (1 Cor. 10:13). In fact, if we could bear these burdens, these pains, these hardships of life then why would we need God?

        I would like to add that I do hear the phrase “why does God let things happen to good people?”.

        But **no one** is good. The Bible tells us that “no one is righteous, no not one” and that “all our good works are like filthy rags”.

        Even on our best days we still don’t meet the standard of God’s perfect holiness.

        We cannot get ourselves to heaven because we can never be perfect.

        We may not be able to understand the pain we see in this world, the heartache, the suffering. But what we cannot forget is that God did not spare even His own Son.

        Jesus Christ gave up His glory in Heaven to become a man to suffer rejection from his family and his people. Jesus suffered brutality in the form of beatings, whippings, and the cruelty of the torture of cross when He did not sin, He did no wrong. And He did it “for the joy set before Him”. Because when He rose again, He conquered death. He conquered the power of sin.

        Jesus, through His shed blood, made it possible for us to come to God. When we come to Him throughfaith, and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, repent of our sins-our wrong doings, we will be saved.

        That is the only thing that can allow us entrance into Heaven. We can do no good work on our own. We could not go to God, so God came down to us in the God-man Jesus Christ because He loves us.

        God paid the ultimate price out of love for a humanity that did not and does not seek Him.

        When I see suffering, when I just don’t understand, when I cry with my dear friend who has had to bury her baby girl, I hold fast to the hope that God is sovereign. He understands my grief and can comfort and give peace. But He does not answer to me or what I think is “fair” or “right”.

        I can appreciate your honesty and bravery in posting such personal thoughts. It could not have been easy. I pray you are met with kindness and respect and that my words are only read in such a tone-for that is how I mean them.

        Most of all, I do sincerely pray that God calls your heart.

        • I struggle to believe that there are no good people. That’s something I just can’t wrap my brain around. When a child dies, wasn’t that child fundamentally good? Some of these kids are too young to have ever been intentionally bad. Perhaps because of the nature of the work I do, I will never see it that way.

          I do appreciate your prayers, no matter what. So thank you. And thank you for stopping by to share your beliefs.

      • I guess the faith part is the part that I struggle with and it’s the part that is kind of a road block to belief in general.

    • You know, as someone who has never read the bible, I didn’t know that it wasn’t in there. People throw that phrase around like it is so I had no idea. It also speaks to how people twist the words in the bible. That’s concerning considering how many Christians are in the world. I’m also constantly amazed by how many people call themselves Christian and have never read the bible. It’s like, you haven’t read the book that guides your life? I’m confused by that.

      But anyways Emily, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts 🙂

      • That always confuses me too. Like, I don’t sit and read my Bible every single day or anything. But I feel like I have studied it a lot,both for myself and for my degree, and I have read the whole thing. I’m no expert though and there’s always more to learn. But I’ve never understood people who are Christian but don’t read it. It’s the basis of our whole faith. How can you say you believe something when you haven’t studied it or know what it says?

        And people always twist things around. The verse I think people get confused with is one that says “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13… I had to look it up lol.) I can see how it would get twisted around, but it’s definitely not saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” It’s saying that when it comes to choosing between right and wrong, everyone has been there and there’s always a more moral option. And I totally don’t blame you for not knowing that phrase wasn’t in the Bible – we tend to say that phrase all of the time. I would have thought the same thing. 🙂

  • You’re definitely not alone in blog world – I’ve written before about how I’m on the same page as you. I was raised Catholic, but I don’t remember ever truly believing in a God. I’ve always disliked the idea that religion is the only way to have morals. I certainly know I do, and I know people who were raised like N – without a single religious influence in their lives. And they’re still good people. I just can’t stand the idea that everything good in this world is because of God, but if something bad happens we can’t suggest that it was His fault.

    • In some ways I feel like attributing all the good (or really, everything) to God takes away from personal accountability. I am accountable for what I do and say. I can’t pray that I get the job I want, or the house I want, or that life will work out the way I want it to. I can do everything I can to make sure those things happen.

  • As a “Christain,” (what does that really even mean?) I can say I’ve had all of these questions, all of these fears, and all of these doubts and I most definitely still don’t have hardly any of the answers. I guess that’s where faith comes in.

    On another note, I highly recommend you read The Shack. It’s a completely fictional book, but it’s such a good read and touches a on many of the questions you have posted here – such as losing a child, forgiveness, higher power, etc. It may not (probably wont) change your mind about anything but it is still a very well written and interesting book.

    • I’ve heard good things about The Shack and always considered reading it. Maybe I will. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • You have managed to sum up my thoughts as well! Raised in Church of Scotland and my other half Church of Ireland, we don’t have particular beliefs about God but I do appreciate that my parents brought me up to try and be a good person and interested and respectful of other peoples beliefs. Now I hope that is what we will bring up our future children to be.

  • I don’t believe in any higher power either, but I do mark myself as agnostic instead of atheist (because I cannot prove that there isn’t a higher power out there). A lot of people seek religion when things get rough because that’s all religion is (in my opinion)– a coping mechanism. If someone passes away, their family copes by believing their loved one is in a better place. If someone fails out of college, they pray to get through it — to cope with whatever lead them to failing out.

    I know a lot of people who are religious and part of me is envious of them. I see them and think “Wow. They are strong enough to believe in something that cannot be proven true. They are strong enough to shape their lives around a religion that may just be a joke.” .. But then on the other hand, I look at them and feel sorry because, and I’m not saying EVERY religious person is this way, they seem stuck.

    I decided to become agnostic because I was tired of coping by relying on religion. I was tired of living a fantasy life (and I know that’s going to offend a lot of people…), instead of focusing on the REALITY of whatever the situation is. There’s a difference is seeking strength from a higher power, and seeking strength from inside yourself.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head. Religion definitely is a coping mechanism. I too envy people who have faith and perhaps because of that faith, fear dying less than I do. It terrifies me because I’m pretty sure that when I die I’ll just be dead. That’s it. Sorry, this comment response got really morbid. Thank you so much for sharing though. I’d consider myself agnostic too, because, like you, I can’t prove anything. I just don’t know.

  • I’ve been an atheist for most of my life – I do prefer humanist, since “atheist” only tells you one thing, but that’s because an ex made me nitpicky by saying “atheist” means you don’t believe in ANYTHING. I love that you’re open about posting this. I see so many bloggers writing about their faith, but I think people without faith (me included) still feel a little hesitant to write openly about it because we don’t always get the “all beliefs should be respected” safety. I like what you say at the end – I’ll live my life in the best way that I can, and if there IS a God, he’ll get that. If not, it doesn’t change anything.

    I was raised Catholic, but honestly, even as a child I never really believed God answered prayers directly. It seemed unfair. I believed then that God gave us choices ( I still do, but without the God part). We might not have miracle cures like in the Bible, but we do have science. It blows my mind when some people cite faith as their reason for not taking their child to the doctor, or are against medical research.

    • V

      I completely agree with you Marielle. There is a ‘fear’ or hesitation from non-religious bloggers to discuss their beliefs openly. This makes me sad.

      Bravo Nadine for speaking your mind. After all, East & is your little piece of the internet. Write about whatever you want. :o)

    • I certainly feared the backlash of posting this post. There is so much Jesus in blog world. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes it’s just too much. I worried that a post like this would be a big “hey, try to convert me” sign.

  • V

    Hey ya Nadine. Take heart, you’re not the only one in blogland that feels this way. I spent years researching different faiths and going to different churches. I’ve even been invited to a Mormon Temple for worship. I wanted to see for myself if there was something truly missing in my life.

    After years of thought, bible study and research, I could say with with definitiveness that no, there is nothing missing in my life by not having religion or a believe in God. I am agnostic with atheist tendencies (still on the fence a little there), and I don’t believe for one second that there is anything ‘wrong’ with that.

    This world is full of different faiths, believes and ways of life. That’s what makes our world so great. Furthermore, the freedom of religion, or lack-there-of, in the USA is another thing that makes our home so wonderful.

    I think religion brings out the best in some people and worst in others. To each there own. Let us all believe what we want and live without pressure and persecution from others.

    Much love and respect

    V @ Life+1

    • You are absolutely right about your point – religion brings out the best in some and the worst in others. Sometimes religious people have great intentions but they don’t realize that it’s alienating to those who don’t feel the same way they do.

  • Erin

    It took some lady balls to write this, good for you! THIS is why I read you, sensitive to others options, but not flitered because of them.
    I grew up in Catholic school, and I struggle with the same things you mentioned. I had a very good, gay, friend in high school who had a gay friend who died in a car accident. Seeking comfort, he spoke with one of our religion teachers who told him something along the lines of “maybe God saved your friend who died to keep him from sinning further in his gay lifestyle”. That was it for me, I can’t see the logic there, or why it was remotely appropriate for a teacher to “counsel” a student that way. #rantover
    Anyway, thanks for posting this, very well said.

    • Well that is one of the best compliments I’ve ever received, so thank you.

      And WOW about your experiences in Catholic school. That is truly horrible. The lack of tolerance and love for ALL individuals is one of the major reasons why I could never participate in organized religion. My hope is that they come around eventually to bring forth a more tolerant world.

  • Lauren

    Thank you for writing this. You are much braver than I am. I’m around the same age as you and have been struggling through years of recognizing this same train of thought in myself, though my family and environment I live in (Indiana) has been very un-accepting. Every little inkling or notion of support makes me feel a little less alone, so, seriously, thank you for writing this.

    • You’re very welcome. I grew up in California in a liberal area where many people felt the same way I did. Now, on the east coast, that isn’t the case. I hope you don’t feel alone and I hope you read through the comments on this post to see how many people there are like us in the world and in blog land. HUGS to you.

  • Growing up in church, my beliefs often wavered back and forth and I never took religion very seriously. However, I’ve seen how I think God has worked in my life, so I do believe we go through things for a reason…no matter how senseless (like a child dying of cancer..ugh) they may seem. I never realized how much I needed God until I really needed Him. For example, I was 23 years old, living in 4000 miles from home by myself while my husband was being ambushed in Afghanistan. I had to cling to faith because it was all I had. I will be forever grateful to the non denominational church I went to there for getting me through that. Twice, actually.
    Long story short: I definitely don’t judge you. We all have our experiences that shape our beliefs. I think a lot of the families you work with have to believe in their faith because, if life on earth is all there is, they just lost their child forever.

    • That is what I’ve heard from families. The alternative, that they never see their child again, is too much to bear. I’m glad that God is there for them to bring them peace.

  • thank you for posting this. i feel a lot of the time that I’m alone in my beliefs, or i suppose lack thereof. I believe in science, and what I can see, touch, feel or theorize.

  • I love your perspective here. I do believe in God but many of the points you made are also points I have questioned and believed in. I don’t think being a good person at all means being a religious person. In fact there are many religious people who are far from good people and vice versa.

    • You’re absolutely right. Many of the most religious people I’ve met are actually pretty hypocritical and not always kind and Christian.

  • I want to start this off by applauding your braveness for posting this. I believe you wrote this very eloquently, and I couldn’t have said it better myself nor could I agree with you more. Just recently I had a friend whose little brother was on life support and she told me, “I went from saying I don’t believe in God to begging God to let my brother live”. I do believe, that sometimes, believing in God is a coping mechanism. I’ve also had my fair share of heated arguments with people about religion – my darling mother in particular. She just recently, say six or seven years ago, started going to church again. The church she goes to is a Pentecostal church, and there are certain ways they do things; the women must wear skirts or dresses, they do not cut their hair, and they aren’t supposed to watch television, etc. My mom started off saying that she was never going to trade her jeans in for a skirt, and now all she wears is skirts. She hated having long hair, HATED it. Now she won’t cut it. My mom’s new found faith has helped her cope with things and has made her much happier, and I won’t fault her for that. The only thing I have a problem with is how they look down on other religions, because who is to say that their religion is the right one? Just recently I saw something online that said something along the lines of “I love how many religions fight to prove who is the most peaceful”.

    Thank you for writing this. Also, many apologies for the book of a comment I responded with.

    • It must be really hard to have a Mom whose beliefs are so different from your own. I too appreciate that religion brings some people peace, as it did your mother. There will never be any definitive way to figure out who is right and who is wrong. I guess only the dead know that.

  • This is a very well written post, and also very respectfully written of other’s beliefs. I have noticed a good amount bloggers also are religious and sometimes I feel out of place; I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    • You aren’t alone. I hope you read through the comments to see that there are lots of bloggers out there like us.

  • nadine, i loved this post. it’s the sort of thing i wish i could have put into words, but you said it perfectly. at one point, for a couple years, i tried really hard to find god. i didn’t, and it was more of a frustrating and saddening thing than an uplifting thing for me. i love the respect in this post, and that you concede that you could be wrong. it’s really great to know that there are some bloggers who share beliefs i do – it can start to feel a little lonesome in the regard that so many bloggers share a faith.

    thanks for writing this 🙂

    • I kind of thought that working so closely with kids with cancer and such religious families would help me find God too. In many ways, I hoped it would. Obviously it’s done just the opposite.

  • Oh Nadine, sometimes I feel like you just get me. Thanks for sharing this post. I walked away from organized religion / believing in a higher power almost 6 years ago and often feel alone in this here blog lands. Thanks for reminding me (us) that there are other like-minded individuals.

    • It’s been really reassuring to read the comments on this post, to know that there are many of us out there. We just keep quiet about it.

  • first, i think you wrote this is a very well written way. second, I have had a lot LOT of cancer in my life. My little sister, my dad, currently my mother in law, my best friend and now, my dad again. while my mother in law does seem to be becoming more extreme about god (but then again shes’ always been extreme in my eyes) my family hasn’t changed or become more religious (maybe even less?)
    Anyway, I’m with you.

    • That’s really interesting to hear. Obviously there are families that go both ways after a cancer diagnosis. I’m sorry your life has been so affected by cancer.

  • Not too long ago, another blogger tried to write a post similar to this and it came off rude and inconsiderate. I tend to agree with you (and mostly her) but I was offended by the way she chose to write about it. You’ve done a great job of being respectful and explaining your reasonings and beliefs. I can tell you took a lot of time to write this and I respect you for putting your thoughts out there! Well done lady.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I was definitely nervous to publish this post so I read it and re-read it, trying to make sure I wasn’t being disrespectful. It’s been nice to read about other bloggers beliefs and to find so many like-minded bloggers. We’re out there, we just don’t talk about it as much.

  • Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for writing this. Its good to know that there are others out there as well. Its a shame that people don’t often share their thoughts if they are not big believers in religion.

    Short story: My boyfriend and I went to see “God’s Not Dead” not knowing a thing about the movie ahead of time (big mistake). My coworkers had all talked it up as the best movie ever. If you’re not familiar its a big Jesus-pushing movie. It demonizes other religions and encourages believers to share their beliefs. When I told people at work I had seen the movie and that I didn’t like it (I didn’t mention that we considered leaving halfway through) I was met with some very offended individuals. I quickly chalked my dislike up to terrible acting as to avoid being the girl who hated Jesus. But honestly, I wish I hadn’t had to. Ahh… living in the south. 😉

    So again, thanks.

  • This post has garnered some really great comments which leaves me with not much to add, but I did want to say that while you’re in the minority in blog world, you’re certainly not alone. Mormons seem to dominate around these parts but there are lots of us, myself included, who have walked away from organized religion.

    I firmly believe that you can still be a good person and go on to some sort of heaven (if you believe in that sort of afterlife) even if you’re not a deeply religious follower. You put it very well by saying that with all the world’s religious, atheists, and agnostics, someone’s got to be wrong. I think that the most important factor in being a good person is living and leading lives based in kindness and compassion.

  • I think this is so wonderfully and eloquently written and it hits so many points that I agree with. I feel ya. I’ve never been religious, wasn’t raised religious and don’t know that I’ll ever have the “faith” that people seem to find in God. However, I have no problem with religion as a whole or people who are religious. I try to see other people’s points of view, whether it be in business, religion or any other aspect of life and it’s clear that you try to do the same. I couldn’t agree more with your point about crediting God (any God, whatever higher power one may believe in) for the good, but not blaming for the bad. I don’t think you’re immature for feeling that way, it’s a horrible process to watch a child suffer and no matter how young, old, immature or mature you are, sometimes you will always want to place blame.

  • I feel like there’s a whole blog post that could be written here… Maybe something I need to do, but, as I’m sure you know, I believe deeply in God and the promises held within the bible. Lately though, I don’t believe them in the way that “church” has taught me too. Lately it feels like I believe so much in God and His goodness, but don’t believe much in church. And, that scares me a little bit because I grew up hearing you HAVE to do church to be “good”. Which, for obvious reasons, isn’t true.

    Sickness, loss, and is He letting it happen or not… I’ve spent five years (thanks Dementia) thinking about what it means, how I want Him to handle this, and my place in it all. What I’ve come to is we have free will in a world that isn’t perfect and with the imperfection of both us and the world comes brokenness. Brokenness in our bodies and our lives and all. the. things. Brokenness that He could come in and fix right up, but then where does our free will go? Catch 22 right?

    Either way, I adore that we are so similar in our thought process though we end up in different places. (And I wish you’d end up back in CA just for proximity’s sake.. 🙂 )

    • I’d love for you to write a post about this. I really enjoy the way you talk about your faith because you also come off as such an open, loving person. It’s never pushy. I have to say, that is an incredible gift. I’ve actually been watching your milking stool ministry series on youtube, weirdly fascinated by your passion and how sure you are in your beliefs. I appreciate what you put out there, I really do. Thanks for sharing, Amber.

  • thanks for your honesty in this and it was beautifully written. my husband and i often talk about how we (both identify with zero organized religions or a specific god in general) are still good people despite a ‘higher power’ telling us to live a certain way.

    that’s one of the reasons i started ‘the new wifestyle’ specifically without a religious tone to it (not that there is anything wrong with that) but when i first started blogging everything i was finding was specific to women serving their gods first before themselves and their husbands and that just didn’t speak to me. i felt left out of that community of wives. so basically T H A N K Y O U because we can be excellent people and wives even when not identifying with a specific religion.

  • This is a post that spoke to me, because my boyfriend and I had a talk about this recently too. Both of us were raised Catholic but in the kind of halfway, get through your First Communion and then kind of peter out from there model. We agreed that at the baseline, we’re both agnostic, but he tends more towards straight up atheism and I’m a little more inclined towards an agnostic viewpoint. I’ve always envied people with faith, in a kind of way. I imagine it would make things easier to believe that some higher being was looking out for me, it would be comforting. But I know that there’s probably not. The only things I know I can count on are myself and the people that love me. I need to be a good person because that’s who I want to be, not because of some divine reward at the end of my life. All we have for sure is here and now.

    • My family is that kind of Catholic too. My Dad refers to himself as a cafeteria Catholic. He picks and chooses the stuff he wants to go along with.

      I also nodded my head while reading that you really envy people with faith. I have, on many occasions, been jealous of those who know for sure what they believe. I agree it would be comforting and I wish I could have that. The thing is, my heart doesn’t seek God that way. My head is too logical and just isn’t capable of going there.

  • This was a really beautiful post, so well written and respectful. Sometimes I’m not sure exactly what I believe, but it certainly has more to do with morals and kindness. I agree you don’t need religion to turn out “right.” I really enjoyed reading this and hearing your perspective, and I loved reading all the comments as well.

    • Thank you so much for the kind comments. We’re all doing our best to be the best people we can be.

  • Bryan and I are similar, in that I grew up going to church and have a very religious family and Bryan grew up without any religion at all. My immediate family (mom, dad, and brother) all stopped going to church when I was in middle school and over the next 10 or so years I went back and forth on what I believed in. During this time on and off I visited many different churches and would do some of my own bible study, but about two years ago I finally really settled in what I actually believe.

    I now am on a very similar page to you, everyone believes something different, I can’t believe that people are going to get to heaven and be told “nope the correct religion was X, the rest of you are out of luck no matter how well you lived your life”. At the end of the day I just try to do my best for myself and the people around me.

    Since I have finally concreted down what I believe I have found that I am so much more open to other people’s believes too. I think now that I no longer feel confused I can honestly feel happy about my believes and see others for what good they offer those people.

    • I feel the same way. I’m grateful that religion helps many people, including many people I love. I’ve always been open to religions and blog world definitely has many religions women. Sometimes it’s alienating or sometimes it’s just boring for me when a blogger writes about Jesus 10 days in a row. Still, I enjoy the occasional thoughtful religious post.

  • I’m right there with you, lady. I admire you for posting this.

  • Annie Pigg

    Over the years I have learned that God doesn’t give you things you can handle, but things we can’t handle. I dislike when people use that phrase because it’s anything but true. Parents can never handle losing a child, but so many parents every year lose their children to cancer, a car accident, or drug abuse.
    “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NIV Phil. 4:13)
    Although this verse is overused, I go to this verse in my darkest moments because the only person that could ever love me at my darkest is God.
    All I can say is you have to find God on your own. No one can change your mind because only you have that power.
    I understand where you are in life about God. I used to question God until I experienced Him a year ago. He can do wonders when you decide to serve Him and share His love with others. I’ve even been on a mission trip to Haiti something I never thought would happen because before I had always had mixed feelings about them. Let me just say this, although there was voodoo all around us one thing kept us safe and it was God. If it weren’t for Him, there would be no way that I would be where I am today especially in my walk of Faith.
    I challenge you to read the book of John and not just blaze through it. Really read it and soak it all in especially the events that lead up to the death of Christ on the cross.
    I hope this can help you make a decision for yourself and your spiritual life. If I can answer any questions for you, then feel free to email me.
    annalee_pigg@live.com

    Have a wonderful day! 🙂

    • I actually went on two mission trips in high school to build houses and work in an orphanage in Mexico. For me, it made me question everything, seeing that much extreme poverty.

      I do appreciate your openness and your kind comment. If I ever feel the pull to seek God, I will read the book of John.

  • Love your honesty and your respect for those that have views that differ from you. This is so refreshing. Thanks for putting yourself out there!

  • I’m definitely in the same camp as you. I wasn’t raised under any religion – my dad’s a scientist and a doctor, and my mom’s logical to the bone, ha. God and Heaven and religion have always been things that I have questioned over and over and over again… especially as I find myself growing older. I know that this is so morbid of me to say, but in recent years, I’ve started to think about death a lot. Maybe because I’m at a place where I have so much to lose, so much that I love. And I’ve laid awake at night, terrified, at times at the thought that there ISN’T a heaven or an afterlife out there. Maybe it’s God’s heaven, maybe it’s reincarnation, I don’t know. So I think in many ways, I’ve forced myself into believing in some kind of higher power… I don’t go to church, I don’t read any religious texts (although I’d love to sit down one day and do so, just to understand), but I hope so strongly, so so SO strongly that there is a place out there where good souls go after death. It’s just not fair otherwise.

    • Caroline, I totally struggle with the same thing. I avoid thinking about death because the thought of not thinking, not existing, terrifies me to my very core. I guess your heart has found a way to relieve some of that fear by seeking God. I’ve managed to continue to live in denial by just putting it out of my mind. Although sometimes I imagine coming back to life as a squirrel or some other small woodland creature. The ones around my apartment seem to be having a grand old time. This comment reply got weird but I thought you might still appreciate it 😉

  • I don’t write about it on my blog but I agree with you 100%. Sometimes I feel like an evil heathen on my way to hell but I can’t make myself believe in something I don’t.

  • I agree with this so much. Lately I’ve been feeling like Christianity isn’t for me; partly because of the negative opinions about them (Westboro Baptist) and also because it just seems like it’s not for me. I see myself as more as spiritual and that I should just live my life right. I still believe in God because it’s been pressed into since birth but I feel in my heart that I want to just remain spiritual or convert to Buddhism. I just can’t jump on that whole “God knows everything” wagon…

    • Thanks for sharing, Asia. I once took an online quiz about what religion I should be (obviously the best way to figure these things out). Based on my very liberal social views, it said I should be a Unitarian-Universalist, which is based in Christianity but pulls in principles from other religions. Maybe that’s worth checking out.

  • What a great post! Thank you for being brave and putting it out there. I believe in a God and was raised Lutheran, but converted to reform Judaism a few years ago. It was a really interesting journey for me… your bravery may have inspired me to blog about it!

    Anyway, I really loved this part of your post:

    “I’m a good person. I know that in my heart. A heart that doesn’t beat for Jesus or because of him. It beats because of electric impulses in my body. It beats because I grew cell by cell. Just as you may believe in scripture, that is my belief.”

    I believe in God, but I am also a scientist, and I share your beliefs on that one, too. 🙂

    I love how you were able to articulate your own feelings without being disrespectful, especially in blogland, where I feel sometimes “overrun” by the Christian bloggers. I read any and all blogs that interest me, regardless of religious preference of their author, but it is nice to read something so nicely put by someone who shares similar beliefs to my own.

    Once again, brava! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments. I’d love for you to write about what led you to convert and how and what you believe now.

  • This post really resonated with me. I too was raised Episcopalian and attended church every Sunday until I left for college. However, during adolescence I realized that while I was really good at going through the motions, I no longer believed. I have not attended church since I left for college except when I find myself with family on a Sunday. My husband and I are expecting our first child in December, and I am fully confident that we can raise our children to be good people without religion in their lives. It is just not something that we need or want in our lives. So there are plenty of other bloggers out there who share your beliefs (or lack thereof), we are just a little less vocal about it. Kudos to you for having the lady balls to write about it!

    • I think it’s sad that bloggers like us are way more scared to share our beliefs than people of other religions. When a blogger is Mormon, they often say right up front that they are. When a blogger is Christian, you can bet that there’s something about Jesus in their description of themselves. But if I was like, Hi, I’m Nadine and I’m an agnostic/atheist, people would be turned off. We’re here but we are still for sure in the minority.

  • I am a believer in God not just when things are going bad but when things are going good, I don’t ask God to fix things I ask him to help me deal with things

    • Thanks for sharing, Jo-Anne. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things and if you find strength by turning to God, then I’m glad to support that.

  • Beautifully written. I see blog posts all the time by people so confident in their faith, and while I admire those people, I’ve always been much more skeptical. Your post puts into words how I feel, and I applaud you for having the bravery to post it.

  • Thank you so much for writing this. As I struggle with my own health, I often hear about it’s only because I can handle it. A good friend of mine just lost her 8 year old son, that is not “meant to be”, what is a grieving parent supposed to say to that?

    • There is no right thing to say to a grieving parent but there are definitely many wrong things. That’s horrible.

  • Val

    Oh sister, let me tell you…I love this post. I’m an agnostic who has always said she has faith and prays, but doesn’t believe in organized religion. Today, I was reminded why I don’t. I went to a funeral for a close friend’s young husband and the super religious inlaws spent the entire service telling people how the late husband was “in a better place” and “luckier than us” and “it’s all okay because he’s seeing amazing things in heaven” and “true believers know that he’s in heaven” and on and on. And it just straight up pissed me off. It’s not okay because you believe he’s in heaven. He’s a 29 year old father of 2 with a 6 week old son who died suddenly and tragically. It’s not okay and he’s not better off and neither are we.

    Made me ragey. End rant.

    • Sometimes a persons death is downright absurd, upsetting, and just NOT OKAY. Anytime someone young dies that’s definitely true. I’m sorry to hear of the death of your close friend’s husband. I have no idea how someone could say that “he’s in a better place”. I’m sure that his child, who now has a single parent and will never have a chance to know his dad, will not feel that way. It’s a tragedy.

  • Lauren

    This is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written! I am part of a local secular mom’s group and it has been so refreshing for me to have like-minded people to share things with. I, too, believe in science and that people are good not because of religion but because of values instilled in them. Living in Alabama, it is challenging to be in the minority and to often be treated as a heathen for not being a Christian. Kudos to you for being brave and true to yourself. Love this post and love your courage!

    • It must be challenging to be in the minority. I’ve experienced that a teeny bit moving from raging liberal California to the east coast. Still, I’ve found that there are a good mix of beliefs here. I’d imagine that isn’t the case in Alabama. I’m glad you’ve found a group that shares your beliefs!

  • Oh Nadine, I’m so thankful that you shared this part of you with us. My faith has always been a really big struggle; but lately I’ve just been trying to be a good person. It’s really helped with my “guilt” on not being a “perfect Christian”. There are times that I read my bible and there are weeks I go without it – and that’s okay. There’s no perfect answer to anyones beliefs; other than the fact that we should ALL be treating others as we wish to be treated and making this world a better place one day at a time.

    • I have never read the bible. I’ve actually found that many many Christians have never read the bible. I really think whatever helps you sleep at night, whatever makes you feel like your head is on straight, that’s the way to go for you.

  • I think it’s great that you wrote this and you did so very eloquently. I think, if anything, you have inspired those of us who read it to look further into our faith (or lack of faith) and try to answer some of those hard questions that we all struggle with from time to time. I fully respect you for your views and I think it’s great that you are confident in them and content in life.

    I just have one controversial comment, and it’s regarding your statement that IF there is some sort of God, they will know you are good and let you in anyway. I think that’s where our culture misses the mark; that life is about being a ‘good person’ and living a good life. “IF” the Bible is true and “IF” there is a God, then it’s not about being a ‘good person’. IF Christianity is real and true, then we have been provided with all of the instructions to live our lives and it’s not to be ‘good’, it’s to share the good news and live a purposeful life, serving God and serving others. So, maybe I’m wrong, and if so, we’ll see what happens! But I really hope I’m not wrong, and at the same time for your sake, I really hope you’re not wrong!
    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

    • I do appreciate your controversial comment. I understand that for some branches of Christianity, converting people and spreading the word is a key thing. To be honest, this is the part of Christianity that I absolutely cannot get on board with. Perhaps this is because each time that someone has tried to convert me or “witness” me, it’s been in a really pushy way. I guess I just cannot believe that if Christians are right that all the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddists, and non-religious but good people, etc. in the world will be unwelcome by God.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts though. I appreciate it and I’m grateful that you shared opposing views in a polite way.

  • This post really resonates with me. Both of my grandfathers were Mennonite pastors of the more liberal variety rather than the head covering almost Amish conservative variety. However, that still means that I spent a large majority of my childhood being surrounded by organized religion of some sort. My parents took my sister and I to church until we were about 4 and 7, and then decided that too much of what was happening was hypocritical. My parents never made us believe anything. Rather, they gave us access to information and let my sister and I decide what we wanted to believe. I remember trying to read the bible when I was a teenager just so that I could get perspective and thinking that the stories being told we’re no different from what most people have in their own moral fiber– to be good and kind and treat others the way you’d like to be treated. I also find these principles to be the same foundations of all religions I have studied. The only difference is the higher being or whatever that the individual believes in.

    For me, there is no higher being and I feel confident in knowing that I lead the life I do because of the choices I have made, not because of a higher being that may or may not exist. That works for me. I think for some people, when bad things happen, they need something to else to help them explain why the bad thing is happening. They need some sort of source of strength. They need to have some sort of faith that good times will return. I think that is human nature– the difference is where we decide to put our faith, on a god or in a general premise that sometimes bad things happen and that happier times are usually alway inevitably going to return. I’m definitely agnostic, bordering on atheist and often feel that in the blogging AND real world that I’m a bad person if I do not believe in god. I feel that I can’t share my opinions with some of my friends or they will judge me. And I have a hard time with that judgement because it seems to be hypocritical of the religion that they associate with. At the same time, I try not to judge them because each person deals with events in their lives in different ways. How we cope is different and if some people need a higher being to explain it all, then so be it. I just don’t need that, and it’s ok too.

    Thanks again for writing such a fantastic post that really connects with people like me. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts on this subject!

    • I like that you say “I lead the life I do because of the choices I have made”. Sometimes I think religion is an excuse for people to not have personal accountability. Like everything is in God’s hands and not our own. That being said, I totally agree with you that how we cope is different and whatever brings people peace is fine by me.

  • Even though my views are different than yours, I really like the way you formed this post. Everyone has their own views and beliefs. I am religious, I believe in God, I want to be a Godly wife and mother, etc… but I don’t go to Church. I don’t feel that I need to go stand in church every Sunday to prove that I am a good person and that my heart is in the right place (for me). I applaud you for sharing your views in a world where people are so close minded, yet your post is so open. One of the many reasons I Heart you.

    • Sometimes I’ve found that the most close minded people are the most religious. I don’t complain or say anything about someone writing about God constantly but then I was terrified to post this because I was certain it wouldn’t be met with the same kindness in blog world. Thank you for your comment. We CAN believe different things and still be friends.

  • Maira

    My respects to you Nadine, it´s not easy to talk in public about religion and I’m sure it takes a great courage to do so, especially if it’s not in a positive way about God. I’m a 100% with you in this, I was baptized in Catholic church but I consider myself agnostic by choice.

  • Watching my Mom suffer and succumb to her brain cancer shattered any last shred of “faith” I had left. It’s all about science and kindness over here!

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom. I think once you witness something like that, it would be hard to believe in anything at all.

  • I appreciate your honesty and bravery in this post–in a world that so often seems that ANY belief (in God or in certain ideals or whatever) is often ridiculed or mocked or blamed for something or other, I think it’s important that people continue to speak about these issues that are some of the most important in our lives (and that often get swallowed inside us because of fear of what others will say).

    I do believe differently than you do, and I’ve always found it a fascinating aspect of the human condition that there are an infinite number of ways to worship and believe and live. As for me, all I can say is that I believe in God because I have often felt a higher power than myself that has guided me throughout my life in decisions big and small. Even when tragedy has struck in my life (as it strikes in everyone’s), I have always taken what I could consider an “eternal perspective” about it. To me, that means turning to my knowledge that there’s a life after this life, that everything that is unjust or unfair in this life will one day be made right through the atonement (suffering and sacrifice) of Jesus Christ, and that ultimately, families have the potential to continue to be together after this life. I lost my first nephew (my mom’s oldest grandchild) when he was almost 3, and in my church, we believe that all children who die before the age of eight are automatically saved in the kingdom of God. Bad things will continue to happen to everyone either from circumstance or from the choices of others, but I figure there’s many ways to approach the situation and “why” it’s happening. For me, I believe that God is a perfect, just, loving God who knows the end from the beginning, and my limited world view is flawed (so for me, I appreciate being able to rely on someone else who knows a lot more than I do).

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to write a novel–I just wanted to share a perspective that’s a little different. As always, I love the honesty in your blog posts, and I appreciate how willing you are to continue to let your vulnerable side show—it’s one of the reasons that I love your blog so much.

    • I was fascinated to read that your church believes everyone under age 8 who passes on gets into heaven automatically. That is certainly something I’m happy to hear. Kids are too young and too new to have “sinned” or to have been truly bad purposefully. Thank you for sharing that.

  • Rebecca

    I love your honesty, and I love this post. I feel exactly the same way.

  • Brave, beautiful, wonderfully honest and genuine post. I totally agree. My philosophy in this life is, “Don’t be a dick to people.” Pretty simple.

  • high five! this was very very well written. so well that i don’t see how anyone could possibly be offended by it. for me, i’m with you in that minority. i was raised catholic, i’ve tried following/believing in god and it’s just not for me. in fact, i feel so strongly against it all that i come across very offensive when i talk about it. i hate listening to people praise jesus and the extents they take it to, it angers me. even when i see it in the blog world, i roll my eyes and keep moving and hope to never come across that blog again because well, some people over do it and it’s really annoying. i don’t like when people shove religion in my face. if i put my feelings of religion in my about me or in my sidebar blurb, i bet i would be told i’m grossly offending those that believe. but from where i stand, i’m grossly offended by those that post their beliefs everywhere- blog, instagram, twitter, facebook status after facebook status. i wanna tell them to swap out their bible with some science books, and stop living life for someone you’ve never met and stop following all the “rules” just because you think you have to and just live life for real and for what it is! ugh, i’m getting all worked up now hahaha. i really just can’t stand religion and i can’t deal with the delusional people that are so obsessed with it. sorry not sorry / kanye shrug lol

    • You managed to write the most brutally honest comment, so congrats. I had to giggle at a few parts. I struggle with how much people plaster Jesus and scripture on everything in blog word. It’s alienating to those of us who don’t believe and sometimes, I too have an eye roll. I definitely understand that a blog can be a way for a blogger to share everything they love, jesus included. What bothers me is when someone takes something totally unrelated, say, an outfit post, at makes it about Jesus. Then I’m like, COME ON. There is a line. It’s off-putting to think you are reading a post about one thing and it turns preachy half-way thru.

  • JC

    I really like this post. I like to learn about other views, since i’m kind of flailing around wondering what I actually believe myself. You may be the minority, but your belief is for you and no one else anyway. Or at least that’s my belief. Live & Let Live.

  • I agree with you 100%. I’ve struggled with whether or not I believe in a god my entire life. In middle school I declared myself a pagan, I had a brief fling with Episcopalianism but we parted on good terms, and now I identify mainly as agnostic, because I can’t prove one way or the other whether there is a god or a dozen gods or no gods. My grandmother is best described by the term “religious zealot” and she’s a Southern Baptist, so she believes pretty much everything is a sin. My mom has become increasingly religious as she’s gotten older, and she’s Catholic. I could never stomach much religion. Maybe I’m just a natural skeptic, or too logical, but I could never believe in an organized religion. The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve seen religion used as a weapon, and that makes me even less believing. My main belief in life is that everyone is equal and equally deserving of respect, and I unfortunately don’t find that in any religion I’ve personally experienced.
    I am fascinated by religion as a concept, and I’ve studied several religions. But none are for me. I often feel like I’m alone in the blogosphere for not being religious. I’ve often wondered if there is a religion that would encompass me, but I’m currently pretty comfortable in my agnosticism.
    It’s incredibly brave of you to post this, and I’m so glad you did.

  • I think this is a beautifully written piece, and I admire how well you expressed yourself. I’ve been a regular church-goer for years, but have always been plagued with doubt – I suppose that, come my death, I don’t want to find out that ‘He’ does exist, and I’ll be punished for not believing enough. That said, I agree 100% with what you said about being a good person, doing your best to live a good life – I think that counts for a lot, and is more than many ‘faithful’ believers can honestly say they do. We’ll probably never know all of the answers for sure, but I think it’s great that you are so clear in your thoughts on the matter!

  • Elizabeth

    I have read through the comments on this post and I have to thank everyone for being respectful, no matter their stance. I grew up in a church that I loved and am still seeking my own faith – not my parents’ faith. I have a bitterness toward the word “religion” because it is man-made. I think it’s important for Christians to understand and learn the Jewish culture since Jesus lived in it. Here’s an excellent website I came across in trying to understand what I was reading in the Bible: http://theonlinebibleschool.net/courses/141-contents-jewish-roots/241-3-take-my-yoke-jewish-roots.html
    A previous poster mentioned her non-denominational church helping her through her husband’s deployment. I truly believe that church is good for having a community to lean on in good & bad times. Also, someone mentioned some religious people not depending on doctors/science/medicine because they believe God will save them. I don’t doubt that He has the power, but I also believe that He created those doctors and people who discover medicine to cure the illness. All in all, it’s okay to have doubts. At least we are discussing instead of glossing it over.

  • So well written and well thought out. If only others were so respectful.

    As a child I was certain there wasn’t a G-d. I was raised in the Catholic Church, but from an early age I questioned everything. (Why they let me teach the Confirmation Class 2 years in a row is beyond me – other than they didn’t have anyone else to do it.)

    Slowly I began to see things that made it clear to me there was something bigger than me, than the royal Us. My relationship with G-d became a complicated one because while I wanted to be a good person and do good things, there was so much corruption hypocrisy going on in the Church it was a joke. Other religions weren’t much better from what I could tell although Reform Judaism comes close to my particular believe system.

    I find myself considering myself a Recovering Catholic, but looking for a church to raise my hopefully some day to be kids. I think that much like my mother let us make our own decisions about how brother and I would practice our Faith, I now ask G-d for peace (if that means cure or finality) and can see the beauty in life when that comes for someone. I have Faith and practice that, but I don’t have a particular one if that makes sense.

    I may have to explore this further in a post of my own.

  • er much like my mother allowed us to figure it out, I want to “give my kids a religion” and let them decide for themselves what it means to them.

  • Great post! I grew up going to church but always dreaded waking up to go. Could have been my ADD but I never got anything out of it. I just sat there for the hour until it was time to go thinking of anything and everything else. I know my parents don’t approve, but I don’t go to church anymore, except Christmas (when with family) or because of a wedding. This might sound cheesy but my church is nature. I feel the most connected to the spiritual world walking among it’s creation then I ever did sitting in a church listening to someone i hardly know talk. I believe in being a good person as well. If our souls are the only thing left after we leave the world, as long as it was a good soul, I will be happy. This really spoke to me so thank you for writing it!

    Cheers,
    alyson

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