One of my favorite past-times is looking back at who I once was. The beauty of life is there. It shows that no matter what, we are never a fixed point. We move on, grow, change, and become someone almost entirely unrecognizable to the person we once were. In some cases, that person would hate who you’ve become. They would have seen your existence as an absolute failure for the effort they, at the time, invested every ounce of energy into not becoming.
Another lifetime ago I was a very, very devout Christian. Of course that would occur when I was cultivated to be such a child. I went to Christian school from pre-k to 8th grade. And the only reason I ever, ever left religious education was because the local faith based high school priced my parents out. They couldn’t afford the exorbitant tuition. So much for spreading the word of God, right? That’s how you do it. You make it where only the rich can attend.
When I transferred to public school I made my faith my entire identity. From the day I started until the summer after my freshman year, I wore this hideous teal hat, embroidered with a “Jesus fish.” I swore that if I made it to Hollywood (as was my want at the time) and won some sort of acting award I would wear that ratty old hat to show that christ provides. Good lord, I was insufferable.
I was also the worst kind, I was a biblical literalist. I believed that what happened in the Bible absolutely occurred in the timeframe in which was outlined in this ancient text. And the verse I believed, with such a flaming ball of hatred, was the sin of homosexuality.
What makes that so problematic is… well… I am a big ol’ nelly queen.
I remember the rage I felt about any kind of queer representation. I vividly remember, saying out loud, that I wish that all “fags” would be killed; or given their own island where they would die out, because they can’t procreate. Which… in hindsight does actually sound kind of awesome. A gay space with no heteros to ruin our fun? Where do I sign up? And, die out? That doesn’t make any sense. Gay people aren’t just born to gay people… if that was the case… there would be no gay people.
My religious story sounds all too familiar. I will not offer you any new detail that hasn’t been said by countless others before or after me. Faith has become a burden. A costume we all don to “fit in” with the rest. For us to “feel worth.” I tried so hard to be a good Christian. I didn’t want to disappoint myself, my parents, or “my god.” I wrote allegorical stories, I listened to faith based music, and I tried to surround myself with others “like me.” Problem was, I was not like them and never could be.
I would pray every night that god would take away my gay feelings. There were a couple times that I pleaded so much that I cried. Yet, here I am. Sometimes I wonder if I just didn’t want it enough, pray as hard as I could. Then I remind myself that I don’t believe in any powerful deity and those antiquated thoughts leave my mind.
Religion has it’s hooks in me until I die, I’m afraid. I was immersed in it from the moment I could talk. It was the only perspective of the world I was offered and I bought into it because it was what my parents shared with me. And how could they be wrong? They knew everything. And it wasn’t just them, it was my teachers and my peers. All of them going along with this bull shit with zero questions. They just believed for the sake of it, and deliberately searching for “god” in everything they did. The thing about looking through rose colored glasses at the world is you’re always seeing red. So, even now, the faith bubbles up in my brain and I have to talk it through. I ask it questions, because there is nothing “belief” hates more than any kind of inquiring thought.
I do think that faith can do good things, but it doesn’t. It has become too consumed with maintaining power. It’s lost any sense of message, except to hold others down and lift up just a select few.
My loss of faith officially occurred after my mother’s diagnosis. It had been on life support at the back of my thoughts since my early twenties. But when I heard what my mother was about to endure any notion that there was “a higher power in charge of everything” was eliminated. Because how could a “loving god” strike down one of his most devout with such a horrible disease? To teach her a lesson? For what? Believing? Is it a test of her faith? That seems like a pyshopathic god to me. That’s like me sticking out a leg to trip someone, offering them a hand to pick them back up and saying “Now, tell me how awesome I am that I picked you up.”
Embracing the idea that there is no reason for what happens, that life is chaotic and meaningless has actually brought me so much peace. Without any meaning, we get to give life the one we want. We are only guaranteed today. So, I will live it the best way I can for the reason I want.
Letting go of faith has brought me closer to myself.
I gotta say, this song does rock. Despite it being a Christian tune. The fact that it was included in the movie “Never Been Kissed” astounds me to this day. The message in the lyrics is finding a version closer to her true self through faith. They included it in a moment where the main character of the film finds herself through her own self-discovery and failure. They may be similar ideas, however the shared space is very thin when considering the broader implications of the actual song.
I also don’t think god brings us closer to who we are, but separates us from our true identity. It tells us to fear and hate anything that doesn’t fit into the crucifix shaped box. And being such an odd configuration, doesn’t allow for too much.