Sunday, 8 April 2012

H is for ... How do you...

H is for ... How do you...

Almost everyone I know here has it running though their veins. They are born into it. They have grown up with it. They are surrounded by it. They know how to do it. It is part of them, their love, their foundation. How do you believe? How do you believe in God? How do you believe the Bible? How do you believe its stories? How?

I live in Dallas, where the bible belt is tightly fastened. Christianity reigns. Yes, in Europe people go to church, yes people are religious. But no, the numbers do not compare.
I was not really brought up in a religious household, just like most of the people I grew up with. I didn't go to a religious school, I wasn't taught much about religion, I wasn't surrounded by religion. I've learnt a lot since then, but still, I never developed this idea, this belief, this knowledge, which belongs to being a Christian, or a Catholic, or whoever. Obviously, the UK is more Christian and Catholic than any other religion, but ask me to become a Hindu or any other religion and it may be as equally as hard as becoming a Christian, or a Catholic, because I just do not have that foundation. To have this core ability to believe in my opinion is such a gift. You have faith, you have something which bonds you together, which can guide you. It really is a strength.

It is Easter. Churches are full with people in their Sunday best. A pretty regular scene. Yet for me, to see churches flooded with people is not so normal. Whats more, the services here almost seem futuristic. More like a concert. Singers, videos, an upbeat choir. I'm not saying either service is 'right' or 'wrong', 'good' or 'bad', I'm just pointing out a difference. Going to church in Dallas just may be a little more like a form of entertainment than in Europe.
It just may be that this makes a difference. There have been studies that have shown the effects of choral singing can have a positive effect on someone's well-being. I'm not going to refer to any particular one, but if you are interested, I'm sure Google has the answers. Well, it just may well be true. I see people in church, and they really do seem to be gathering positive energy from singing in unison. Hands in the air, singing up to the sky. The music enters you. It vibrates inside you. It makes your stomach tingle. Whether you are a believer or not. We come together together to praise the Lord, and we go away feeling good. If you are a Christian already, this may be exactly what you need: some strength to guide you in your spiritual journey. I feel it too, but I still have this fundamental question to answer: How do you believe?

I went to church today. I listened and watched, and thought. Good Christians should be good people. That's not always the case, but that is what I think the majority of Christians strive to be. I however, am not a Christian, or any other religion, but that doesn't make me a 'bad' person. In fact, I may even strive harder than some Christians to be an all round good person. I feel I have good values in life, and this really does make me the person I am today. I'm not perfect, but I work on my weaknesses, and admit when I am wrong. So, do I really need to believe? Do I really need a religion to hold me accountable, when I can do this myself? Maybe some people do. Maybe they need this unison of people, this support, this foundation to grip onto so they do not lose their way. Would I go to hell for not believing, yet trying my best to be good in every way? Would I be in limbo? So do you only go to heaven if you believe in God, or can good people get in too? This may sound like a silly question, but to me it really is worth considering.

To be able to believe in something as -I don't know - immense, grandiose, nearly abstract, amazes me. In my opinion, you really need to have grown up surrounded by it, or slowly grow into a believer. I don't see how such a belief can be acquired overnight. However it is achieved, to me this belief is almost a precious gift.
Happy Easter.


  1. My sweet Stephanie,
    I love these questions...because they are questions I pondered a couple of years ago. I, too, was not raised in an incredibly "religious" home. My family came to know--and love--Christ later in our lives. I thought I accepted Christ into my heart around eleven years old, but I can't say I genuinely knew what it meant. In fact, I looked at it much as you described in your post--religion was my accountability partner. It was my checklist of good deeds that guaranteed my entrance into Heaven. It was something that made me feel guilty (versus convicted) when I messed up and made me feel proud (instead of humbled) when I did “good.” I had it all wrong.

    I've learned that Christ is not about "religion." It's about a relationship. I love the Lord because he genuinely and whole-heartedly loves ME. And you. And all of us. SO much.
    Not only that, but it is actually LOGICAL to believe in the Lord. Read "The Case for Christ" if you'd like some insight. This nonfiction book chronicles the journey of an atheist who was determined to poke holes in Christianity. He visited Biblical expert after expert and was astounded to learn that Jesus WAS someone who lived...and more importantly, someone who died for us. He discovered that the Bible is based on supportable facts. He discovered that his beliefs don't have to be based on emotions (or "feeling" like our God is the one true God) but can be based on sound reasoning and practicality.
    We don't believe in God because we've been raised in it...because several of us haven't. We don't believe in God because it feels good...because, as someone who has painfully struggled to hold tight to my values in an often valueless world, it doesn't always.
    We believe in God because it is truth.

    I love you to pieces, sis. I would LOVE to talk about this any time. As someone who is genuinely new to REAL faith, I don't have all the answers. But I would be happy to help you find them.

    Hugs! Love you!!
    P.S. Mama M has mentioned often how odd she found Christianity upon first moving to Texas. She wasn't raised in a Christian home and also had trouble adjusting to the "Bible Belt." She would be a GREAT person to talk to about this! She could definitely relate.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I am really interested in other people's opinions, thoughts, beliefs, etc. Everyone has so much to say! Speak to you soon! xx