It took me years to feel brave enough to say this openly, but after having this conversation with SO many people who feel the same, I realized the people who can relate FAR outnumber the people who might be offended by this. But I promise, I mean no offense. I just want to share my story in the hopes that it helps or inspires others on a similar path, or to offer the chance for anyone who’s interested to get to know me better.
2020 was a significant year for me (among the reasons it was a significant year for everyone) - I’ve officially been a non-Christian for as long as I’ve been a Christian. I want to dive deeper into what led me here. I just ask that you don’t jump to conclusions that I’m some evil heathen simply because I’m a “non-Christian”.
I was born and raised Catholic. I went to Catholic school where 8 years of my life were spent immersed in the Catholic religion, being taught and following the Catholic dogma, eating the eucharist, confessing my sins, and faithfully attending Mass every weekend. I was fine with it. I didn’t really question it for awhile. I don’t remember exactly what woke me up in the first place, honestly.
Maybe it was the kids that picked on me and outcasted me in grade school, and I realized they weren’t living by any Christian standards I’d been taught. Love your neighbor is pretty basic, isn’t it? He who is without sin can cast the first stone? I got to learn the true meaning of a hypocrite thanks to them.
Maybe my awakening was slow, like questioning things one by one, like what makes this priest better than me? What or who gave him the authority to absolve me of my sins? And when I found out that pre cana was a thing required before a Catholic wedding - from what I understand, it’s more or less marriage counseling prior to the marriage… by a priest… who knows nothing about marriage… How does that make any sense?
Maybe my awakening was the eye-opener of being exposed to sooo many other beliefs and faiths and followings when I got to high school. The Lutherans who didn’t believe in the Virgin Mary the same way I did in my Catholic upbringing, which was a shame because that’s one thing I still to this day love about the Catholic church - they honor Jesus’ mother. I felt an empowerment for women because of that. Then there were the Baptists who seemed way more hardcore and black and white about their beliefs, like how you absolutely WILL NOT go to heaven unless you accept Jesus into your heart. If you were a good person all your life but didn’t accept Jesus? Nope, going to hell. If you killed someone but later asked forgiveness and accepted Jesus? Welcome to the Pearly Gates, come on through! Or the people who were non-religious, with no religious upbringing, never been to church. They treated me nicer than my Catholic classmates all through grade school. Then I had a few friends come out that they were gay. One was sent to Christian counseling to coax the devil out of him. The other lost friends over it - the religious friends, I might add. How can you stand here and call yourself Christian, someone who is supposed to love one another, leave the judging to God, but basically throw stones and dehumanize or demoralize or disempower a person who simply, innocently, takes interest in people of the same gender? All of these things made me see the hypocrisy even clearer. And I also saw diversity. How can one religion think their line of thinking is the RIGHT way and the ONLY way, when there are hundreds of other faiths out there thinking they’re right?
My atheist uncle once said “War over religion is like fighting over whose imaginary friend is better.” And he’s not wrong. None of these people had any way of proving that THEIR way was the RIGHT way. Had they been to heaven and back to report what was over there? Had they had a first-hand conversation with Jesus, who said, “Yes, Suzie, it’s okay for you to outcast your gay friend and make him feel horrible about something he can’t help, you’re doing the right thing by hating him and abandoning your friendship.” Did God take a seat at your dinner table one night and say, “Now Johnny, Tarot cards are bad, they invoke the devil, I highly recommend you avoid them at all costs.” Come on.
Now, I’m not saying I’m against the Christian faith. I just learned that my freedom of choice and exploration was more important to me than sitting in a pew every weekend being told what to believe from one organized school of thought, when there are unlimited possibilities and thoughts out there in this vast Universe. And I’m not saying Jesus Christ didn’t exist or was wrong or anything like that. In fact, I think his message is profound, and important. If only more people would listen to him and follow it… And that’s why I choose not to label myself as a “Christian”. Because the “Christian” faith I grew up around, with so much hypocrisy, judgement, gossip, hate, jealousy, etc., was not what I imagined Christianity to be. That, and I don’t like labels. I believe we’re all connected to that One Source Energy, or “God”, and we don’t need a label of religion to prove that or find that.
Through that freedom of choice and exploration, I followed my curiosity down many rabbit holes. On this journey I found so much excitement and joy and enlightenment - something I NEVER got while sitting in a church pew every Saturday night.
And that’s the difference between Religion and Spirituality. Religion is taught to you. It’s an organized set of beliefs that you subscribe to. But spirituality is personal. It’s something that can’t be taught, but instead discovered. And then it’s something felt, deeply, and gives your life more meaning and value, which opens you up to a whole new sense of joy in your experience of living.
I’ve walked this road for a long time, but just now I’m finally speaking my truth. I was afraid to openly say that I’m not a “Christian” in my hometown, for fear of judgement and anger and whatever backlash might come from that. But I finally realize it doesn’t matter. I know God doesn’t hate me because I don’t claim a label. Because hate doesn’t exist where there is God.Uncertain about your own spirituality? Questioning your faith or religion? I’d love to help. That can be a scary place to be, and it doesn’t have to be! I provide a safe space where you will never have to worry about being judged, and I am equipped and prepared to help you uncover your spiritual path, and connect with the best faith there is - the one that YOU cultivate on your own. DM me on social media @JamiChristine11, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and find out what spiritual life coaching is all about!