Religion: choice or forced-belief?
Amanda Chappell, Section Editor
One thought that has consistently been on my mind since I “left the nest,” and became the sort-of independent adult I think I am, is the previous presence of religion in my life, and how it is no longer a prevalent existence. From the age of eight until 18, I attended church regularly, oftentimes more than once a week, because it was instilled in my mind early on, that it was a necessity in my life.
I never thought twice about that, because I respected parents enough to not question their decisions for me and my siblings’ wellbeing. Of course, I was young, and could not comprehend life decisions such as what I believed in, so I went along with it and lived my life as a conservative Christian.
By the time I was in high school, my parents weren’t as adamant on attending regular services, but I had already been brought under the wing of several church volunteers, that at this point, I now spent 3-4 days at the establishment, constantly volunteering my time and energy into the church. I thought nothing of this, however, I thought I was doing what I was supposed to as a member of the church, and a “Child of God.” When really, I got too caught up in trying to live up to what I believe my “mentor” expected of me.
When I was in the transition from high school graduate to college freshman, I consulted members of my church, regarding the new church I would call home, in Lacey. I was given a few options, and tips to find the “right” one, but the idea slowly became less important. Three months had gone by, and I hadn’t cracked open my bible or stepped foot in a church… I didn’t feel the need to.
By the end of the first semester, I wasn’t committed to religion anymore, and I rethought everything I used to believe in. I concluded that I was taught lies. I was told to put my faith into a being that I had no proof of existence. That didn’t sound right. I dove into all the other hate that had been preached by people I considered my mentors, ones who I looked up to. Before, I was ignorant to social matters, and only adhered to what the church told me was righteous. Whereas now, I understand what it’s like to accept those who are turned down by these megachurches and prideful speakers.
My depression began around the age of 14, when I had made an important decision in my life. I was miserable, scared, and begging this supposedly omnipotent present for my happiness back, because “He” was the one to control that, according to the church, it will be “in His timing.” Since then, I still deal with my hard days here and there, but I found happiness within myself, not in the hand of an old guy sitting on a cloud.
My point here is this: I wasn’t forced into religion, I just didn’t know any better – it was what I was used to. Until I became an adult and had the chance to decide for myself, it was my life. But, too often, parents are not giving their children the opportunity to explore their beliefs at the right time. It shouldn’t be until college that a person understands their beliefs, it should be experienced in their teens.
The ability to speak and stand-up for what you believe in is a wonderous thing, and it shouldn’t be dictated by who raised you. I think it’s important that we encourage younger minds to explore their beliefs, to challenge what they’ve been taught, and find out what feels right to them, not their families.