Being raised in a predominantly Catholic country meant that the religion played a major role in our day to day lives, from simple traditions to expressions in conversations, its presence was almost always felt. Most of the schools here had religion as a subject. So, even if the household was not strict in terms of observing religious traditions, we still had to go through them at school (except for those who belonged to a different faith, of course). Practices had to be observed and prayers had to be recited even though some – or many – might not have fully understood the words they were saying out loud. Certain values, beliefs or traditions were taught to us with an unspoken understanding that we would accept and practice them wholeheartedly even though we might not have fully agreed with them.
I will be the first to admit that I am a non-practicing Catholic. We attended mass regularly in elementary and high school because according to my mom, she wanted some sort of structure for me. When I was in college though, she stopped asking me to go and decided to let me choose what I wanted to believe in. I truly appreciated this because at this time, I was already beginning to question some things, and I did not want to grow resentful to her or the religion because I was “forced” to do things I did not completely believe in. I know the religion is not perfect – nothing is, for that matter – but I thought (and still think) there was something out there that was better-suited for me.
For a while I toyed with the idea of atheism because I also do believe that you and you alone are accountable for your life – your reactions, emotions, feelings and choices are, no matter how many excuses you come up with or people you blame, ultimately your decisions. Plain and simple as that – no need to redirect whatever mistakes to some ethereal being. However, as the years passed and life became more complex, I started to realize that some things in life could not be explained. I don’t know if I’m just impatient to wait for the explanation, but I simply could not fathom the whys or hows of these things. And you know what? I was okay with this. I was okay with not knowing. I was okay with accepting them. Then I started to think – maybe, maybe there was something bigger out there that made the world turn, something that accounted for the unexplainable, that made things fall into place without you knowing how or why. A God? A Supreme Being? A Life Force? I don’t know, I still can’t decide.
I would like to think that in an ideal world, you should be allowed to choose your faith. You should not be forced to believe in something just because it is what the majority believes. You should believe in something because you choose to, because you know you can uphold it, defend it and stand by it. Again, I would like to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with Catholicism per se – I just feel that it is not “the one” for me. I am lucky to have open-minded parents and friends who allow me to choose my beliefs. I am still undecided. I am still struggling with that decision. Yes, it is difficult, especially in challenging times, but I simply refuse to commit to something I do not believe in 100%, which is why I’m not in a hurry. At this point in my life, though, I live by the golden rule (or at least try to), and I say my prayers (especially those of gratitude because it’s too difficult to contain!) to Someone Out There. I don’t know who he/she/it is yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will find out some day. For now, the search goes on. 🙂