If God and I have any relationship, our Facebook Status would be “It’s Complicated.”😩
I hesitated quite a few times about this post because of how sensitive the topic is. Up till recently, I wasn’t sure if I believed in God. As in the Christian God. My wonder began when I first joined my Secondary School Friend, Jeremy on a mission trip. Which I didn’t really know was a mission trip, per say. It’s amazing, really, how Fate works. 1 instagram post of him volunteering with kids, 1 comment of mine and the next thing you know I was on my way to Batam, with a group of people I didn’t know at all, and just met a week prior. Mind you, before this, Jem and I weren’t even good friends. I don’t know if you can even say we were friends. More like acquaintances, because on a scale of 1 to 10, the amount of social interaction we had together was like a 2. And now he’s one of the closest guy friends I have in my life.
I didn’t think that it was bigger than just joining a nice potential friend from school on a volunteer trip. And to be frank, it’s because it was Jem- someone I felt I could trust, without knowing him completely. But I emerged from that trip with a greater respect, understanding and interest in Christianity. Their efforts to spread the gospel and evangelize the children in Batam was really beautiful to see, and very touching for me. That didn’t make me a believer. It still doesn’t. And this is the part I felt was debatable up till last night- if I don’t believe in acknowledging the only God, but I believe in everything else, does that make me a believer?
“No.” A friend who brought me to Church said. “It’s the foundation of everything we believe in. So you simply don’t believe.”
I once told my friend that I’m a believer in all, but I worship none. Everyone says I can’t do that. But in a sense – I go to the temple, and I pray. I go to Church, and I pray. If I ever walk into a mosque, I’ll pray too. With the same sincerity and belief, I do that each and every time. If believing wasn’t about following a set of instructions, or taking a strong side on the Liar, Lunatic or Legend debate. If believing was not more than acknowledging the presence of a single God but just believing, in the most raw sense of the word ‘Believe’, well then, I am a believer. Otherwise, I’m not. Simple as that.
I once said that having a religion doesn’t suit me. And before anyone from any religion starts talking to me about how their God loves everyone and accepts them as who they are – it’s not anything to do with each religion that would make me feel this way. I built myself from scratch in the years where I was 15 to 18, on the basis that I would care for people I feel connections to, and not be afraid to step out and speak up about things that are unjust or unfair. Having a religion, any religion, is an indirect acknowledgement that someone out there is wasting their time pursuing a belief that doesn’t exist. And I know there shouldn’t be a clash here, between caring for people, and having my own religion. Jem balances that perfectly well. Most people balance that quite well. I’m the issue, really. To not be able to understand people as I do now- that’s important to me. And difficult. It would tip my scales, and I don’t think I can manage being as understanding as I am now.
It’s funny though, I’ve always hated the word ‘Neutral’. A friend once taught me that being neutral, never taking a side? “What’s the point in your existence then? What voice do you have to be heard?” But the entire basis of my thought process is based on neutrality and practicality of allowing myself to be an enemy of no one. As well as to prevent myself from making mistakes. It’s in everything I do- the friendzone, the job choices… Truth is, I’ve never been afraid to stand up and be brutally honest, speak my mind. The only difference being as I grew older, I became more aware of the consequences of my honesty and more prepared to deal with them. But that’s because whatever I was standing up for, I always was adamant, at least in that point in time that it was the right thing to do, at least for me. When it comes to religion though, I literally have no clue.
In the past few weeks I’ve gone to 3 different Churches. True Grace, Faith Community Baptist, Faith Methodist. The dynamics there are very different. I attend Chinese service at True Grace and it’s very traditional. FCBC service is like attending a concert for Christians. I didn’t attend service for Faith Methodist, but I have to say that their more subtle approach is what really made me feel comfortable going for their movie screening. It was really a different approach they took, and True Grace being a very traditional Church, it was a bit of a culture shock for me, attending FCBC service. Faith Methodist was like a bridge between the two. Thanks so much for the invites, Ming En and Karen💕
When it comes to the question of whether or not I do pray, I do. When I was a child, holding joss sticks and making wishes to 大伯公 was a simple enough concept to fathom. I always wished for the exact same things. Health for my family. To do well in my studies. For business to be good for Daddy, and for Mummy to get a promotion. That was kind of the format my Mum gave me. And right now, it is with the same amount of sincerity that I pray at temples and at home, when my parents ask me to. I pray when there are prayer requests in the True Grace Whatsapp group, but I do feel like it’s never out of goodness of my heart. I prayed for a tribe mate, because I know what it’s like to worry and be so afraid of losing a parent. When my Dad had a stroke, it was out of nowhere and I was volunteering in Johor. So I prayed for her, because I know how she feels. I prayed for my cellmate because he is genuinely a good person, and he deserves better. And because I honestly thought I would be in his position right now. There’s always an element of selfishness in my prayers, but ironically, I never pray for myself. When I pray for them, momentarily I block everything out. It’s difficult to explain, but in that moment, when I try to speak to God, He is the only God I am addressing. And I know not many people will believe or understand when I say this – that lasts for maybe the entire prayer. And when I open my eyes again I’m never truly sure whether I believe in God, or whether I believe in the comfort God is offering the people ard me.
For someone who is sensitive to words and languages, I don’t feel as emotionally connected to religious teachings as I should be. I listen to worship songs, and sermons, and often I do tear up. But I’ve never felt it’s plainly because of what they mean to me. It’s more of the grateful feelings I have towards the presence of God, and I cry because I think of all the people who feel safe, and in awe of the prrsence of their God. And maybe in the moment, I feel that too.
To have any religion, I need to say that this is the right religion. And at least as of now, I can’t do that. The furthest I will go is “This is the right religion for me.” But just the fact that that’s the furthest I can go means I’m not a true believer. Despite all the things I don’t believe, I do believe everyone’s God has a path for us. And if I continue being true to myself, I’ll find mine. 🙂
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