I have been absent from the wordpress world for the last week…  I’d have to say that things have been getting harder, but that’s a whole different story. I can definitely say that my meds are not helping- and I’m starting to wonder if they’re actually making things worse. More on that later, though.

What I do want to write about is pretty unrelated.

This morning I checked out a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The topic was life after death. I was really interested to hear what the minister would say about such a topic… especially because although they call themselves a religion, they don’t really have a set of doctrinal beliefs- so I wondered what they could possibly say about life after death.

The minister first gave a very general overview of what different world religions believe about life after death. She then talked about her own beliefs concerning the topic, which were very similar to mine… basically, that there is really no way to know.

As I’ve written in previous entries, my family is very religious- and I grew up that way too. I need to point out that they are religious in the sincere way- they truly believe what they say they believe. It’s not just about tradition or appearances.

For my mom, her beliefs grant her huge comfort. The idea that she thinks she knows where she’s going after she dies consoles her in some of her hardest struggles. It used to be that way for me too- I was very passionate about my faith. Yet in the midst of that I always had this fear that I was or could be wrong… and then always felt guilty for having that fear. The ultimate freedom for me was actually admitting what I really believed all along- that I really didn’t know- that there really is no way to know... and that that’s okay, and life is still worth living even if there are no pearly gates. I believe more than ever that this life is the most precious gift, and now I only fear death when I am feeling truly in love with life and don’t want it to end. But even then it’s not really a fear of death- it’s just a love of life. To me, that is comforting.

I think I made a mistake though. Just a few minutes ago I told my mom that I went to the UU Fellowship. I tried to preface it by telling her that what she had heard about UU was probably wrong or very misleading, and explained that it’s not a religion in the sense of the word that Christians think of as a religion. Although different answers to some of life’s biggest questions are presented, none of them are really taught to be the Truth. They encourage you to explore your spirituality and boast that people from all different faiths are a part of their church. They don’t tell you there is a God, but they don’t tell you there isn’t one either.

My mom was not happy. In all fairness, she wasn’t angry either. I know I’m lucky for that. At least she didn’t scream at me, threaten to kick me out. But you should have seen the look on her face. Pure concern and sadness.

It’s not her reaction that upset me (although I obviously don’t want her to be worried or sad.) What upsets me, what angers me, is that her reaction was based on what she knows about Unitarian Universalism- which comes from the world of conservative Christianity and Christian Family Radio. “UU is dangerous! They will indoctrinate you with false teachings!” How ironic considering UU emphasizes not having any formal doctrines or creeds, whereas at the church I grew up in, we all spoke in unison our creed every week. Every week, every day I was indoctrinated. Maybe “indoctrinated” is a strong word- but I was certainly taught that what our religion proclaimed was the Truth. The UU minister this morning openly admitted that she could be wrong about what she thought. That doesn’t sound like indoctrination to me.

Don’t get me wrong- I have enormous respect for my mom and her beliefs. Maybe I’m the cowardly one, sticking to the easy, middle-ground answer of “well, I don’t really know.” But that’s honest- it’s the truth. I recently told my mom that I thought certain things were really impossible to know (in the midst of a conversation about religion) and she thought that I was ascribing to relativity, or that I was saying that the truth really isn’t that important. Again, there’s so much irony in that; it’s because the truth is important to me that I’ve admitted that I don’t know. I can’t pretend to believe something that I don’t.

I guess it also frustrates me because I wish she would have been happy for me. Yet at the same time, I understand why she isn’t. I don’t agree with it, but I understand.

Yes, Mom, there is reason to be very concerned about me. I’m really struggling here. There is something not right in my brain- the chemicals, they’re mixed up. But in the sense of spiritual and religious beliefs, I am healthier than I ever have been.

After seeing the look on my mom’s face today, I know that I can never be completely honest with her about how I feel about religion. Along with frustrating me, it broke my heart she was so sad and worried about it… because honestly, I’m glad that she gets so much comfort and hope from her faith. I admire it. I just wish she could admire the way I address those same questions.

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