Part 1 HERE
I like bumper stickers. Those who have seen the butt of my van know this to be true. It's a place to make a statement, just like Tshirts. This one is my favorite, and it keeps me centered when it comes to religion and belief.
When I hit my thirties, I went through another personal struggle. I blame the internet a bit for this. When you first start connecting online, it's a lot to take in at first. The information, the people, the range of thought and opinion- you get really sucked in. If you're in a place where you're not sure what direction your life is going, it's easy to be pulled in many different directions. What I knew for sure is I wasn't happy, and I didn't know what to do about it.
I met some great people over the years online, several I still call friends today. Several I've only met once in person, or not at all. Others come in and out of life but leave a lasting impression. I had many religious discussions and arguments on the Truth Seekers message board prior to the podcast beginning. I had decided at this point that I was definitely searching for something, but I also knew I couldn't just pick a religion and join a church. I didn't go completely off my rocker as in Eat, Pray, Love (I have many issues with her story), but I knew I was searching for... something.
Eventually my journey brought me to Buddhism. It's sort of a "safe" religion. You find what you need on the inside, within you. A friend bought me a book and CD with some meditations on it, and when I was away at a greeting card convention in NY (yes they have conventions for that!) I tried it out. Have to say it was amazing. I don't think I ever felt so centered and totally in the moment. It was being in the moment and yet again being aware that started bringing me inner peace. I learned to let go of the emotions that do not matter. Put my ego in check, you might say. Now, I no longer meditate regularly, really I don't at all. I have learned how to be by myself and be quiet when I need to. Shut off the computer and the world around me and just sit for awhile. Yeah, I'm a freakin' Zen master. ;)
As I look back through this journey, I have discovered that really, there never was a place for religion in my life. Deep down, I was always skeptical, and I never fully allowed myself to believe in a God. I think it's more accurate to say I was looking for something to prove me wrong in not believing, and I never found it (insert Poison's 'Something To Believe In' here). This isn't to say that I'm not open to it should the proof come to me at some point in my life, but for now, I have to say I'm good putting the search to rest. I love talking religion and learning about other religions in the world, because it is a part of how societies function. I always want to understand why people believe what they believe.
Today, I know without a doubt that I don't need God or a religion in my life to be happy. I make my own happiness, and I try really hard to find it within me. I have a community of people, both friends and acquaintances that I stay connected to enough online and off, and that brings me contentment. I give back to my community in several different ways, and that brings me fulfillment. I have a husband and two daughters that I will continue to share my life with and love deeply, as well as a very large extended family, and that brings me security. It's just the worship part that I can't bring myself to do.
If you think about it, I'm living my life the way God wants and intends everyone to live, and in that respect I am worshiping Him.
I mean, if I believed in that sort of thing.