Belief vs. Culture

How many true believers are in the world?

It’s true; your geographical location usually decides your religion, but how many people truly believe, and how many just follow along because it’s part of their culture?

I think it’s human nature to question. Don’t you? I think at some point everyone goes through a little “soul searching”, whether they admit it or not. For me, questioning my beliefs just felt like part of growing up. Maybe for some, it strengthens their belief, but questioning led me to abandon faith altogether. I bet a lot of people are in the same boat, again, whether they admit it or not.

I grew up in a Christian culture (coloring Easter eggs, giving Christmas presents, etc. minus going to church) but I’ve never considered myself a Christian. Honestly, it would be so easy to hide and call myself a Christian. No one would ever know the difference, but morally I just can’t do it. I have to stay true to myself. In my personal life, I don’t just offer up my atheist views, but when questioned, I’m honest. 

Is everyone being honest? I kind of doubt it. How many people are just following the motions? I bet the number of true believers is smaller than we think.

Deep down I think everyone must have a little bit of doubt. It would be strange if they didn’t, right? I mean, nothing in life is 100 percent. We learn that pretty early on so why wouldn’t it apply to religion?

So many people at my work are vocal Christians. Do they really truly believe? Is any of that peer pressure? I don’t know. If they ever questioned, would they admit it?

I’m just curious; when you look at the people around you who define themselves as part of a religion, do you think they truly believe? Do you think they secretly have doubts? Do you think they just see religion as part of their culture and nothing more? Are they just following the motions because that’s what they know? Or maybe because they’re afraid not to? 

You never know what’s going on deep inside a person’s head, but I’d like to think I’m not alone in my feelings. Am I really that different from the people around me?

So many questions…

Botanicals Art Exhibition

One of my flower drawings was accepted into Botanicals 24 with Artist Space Gallery. You can check out the online exhibition here. I forgot that I entered the contest and I don’t remember getting an acceptance notification so you can imagine my surprise when I saw my work on the website today!

Thank you guys for your support!

I only have one week left on crutches and it’s changed the way I view things.

I am so excited to be getting rid of these crutches soon! I am no longer in pain and I am so glad I had the surgery. No more feeling helpless. No more sitting around the house all day.

My experience with having a knee injury and recovering from surgery has changed the way I view things. I have spent so much time lying around on the couch. I’m so excited that warmer weather is finally here and I’m going to be able to get out more. Having my surgery at the beginning of April was really good timing! I will be recovered by summer. I want to walk to the park with my daughter and go for bike rides. I haven’t been able to do those things in almost a year and I just don’t want to take my mobility for granted. I feel so fortunate to not be in pain. I’m not getting any younger and now I want to be active for as long as I can. 

This has also made me view disabilities differently. Using crutches has been so much work. I’m slow and I’m tired. Everything I do is more complicated. It’s very frustrating and there have been so many tears. I’m constantly asking for help and now I really know the importance of handicapped parking spaces. I avoid going out. My husband does all the grocery shopping. 

Another reason I don’t like going out is that the crutches and brace attract attention. I already have social anxiety, and it’s overwhelming when complete strangers are asking me what happened. I get very annoyed. I just say “I had surgery” and leave it at that. I think people can sense that I’m uncomfortable and I shut down the conversation pretty quickly. It’s not like what happened to me was embarrassing, but it’s really none of their business. 

Things have indeed gotten easier as time has gone on, but it’s still a lot of work. I am so excited to be walking on two feet soon, but it has been in the back of my mind what this would be like if I were on crutches longer or even disabled for life. It’s just something I’ve never thought of before. This was an eye-opening experience. 

I just want to get back to normal. One night I broke down sobbing because as I was lying on the couch I was watching my husband doing the dishes, cleaning the house, and taking care of our daughter and I just couldn’t help him. I felt so guilty.

I can’t wait to drive again. Freedom! I can’t wait to go back to work. My first day back is the 22nd. Now that I’m almost off of crutches I am looking for a second job. A new arts and crafts store is opening nearby this summer, and I’d really like to work there! (I also hope there’s an employee discount!) 

I can’t wait to finally get rid of the crutches, but at the same time, it’s a lot to think about. It’s been such a difficult experience, but also it was only six weeks of my life. 

I hope the optimism and enthusiasm I’m feeling right now lasts.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

Do your partner’s religious beliefs differ from yours? (Plus “Smile” and “Cock and Petals”)

I have a Cardi B song stuck in my head. I like the song, but it just won’t leave me alone. Maybe some writing will distract me…

Do your partner’s religious beliefs differ from yours? I’m an atheist – pretty straightforward. My husband doesn’t believe in god but believes in a higher power. It’s really just a slight difference and I can see where he’s coming from. Definitely not enough to make us incompatible.

When I was younger, I dated men from all different backgrounds. I was an equal-opportunity girlfriend and I think it’s kinda funny that I married someone so similar to me. 

But when it comes to religion, I don’t think I could settle down with someone if they were really different from me.

I was once in a long-term relationship with a Jewish man. We lived together in Los Angeles. When I was with him I took classes on Judaism (that his parents paid for) and his family expected me to eventually convert. 

While I’m not a Christian, I grew up in a Christian culture. My family colored Easter eggs and gave Christmas gifts. He wanted nothing to do with it. It became a touchy topic and made me really uncomfortable. Why was I the one expected to change?

There was a lot I didn’t understand (and probably still don’t). His Jewish family and friends often talked about being oppressed, but at the same time, these were the wealthiest people I had ever been around. I know their grandparents were oppressed, but I just didn’t see them as oppressed; I saw them as extremely privileged. Unfortunately, it kind of affected how I viewed Jewish people in America, but logically I know one family does not represent all Jews. It’s been years and I think I’m still processing it all.

Eventually, I left him and moved back in with my family in Ohio. It was at this time I finally got the help I needed for my mental health. Dating in recovery gave me a little more confidence, and I met some really interesting people.

After a year back in Ohio, I went back to school and dated an Indian man. We were both students at the same college. One day, we drove all the way to Pittsburgh to visit a Hindu temple. It was a long time ago and I don’t remember all the details, but it was nothing like anything I had ever experienced before. There were so many people there and it was definitely eye-opening. He never pushed his religion on me and I was very grateful to have experienced his culture without the pressure to change myself.

Then there was the conservative Christian (and virgin). We also met in college. He was dead-set on converting me and I didn’t budge. Had I converted just to please him, it would have been a lie. You can’t force someone to believe in something, and I’m not willing to fake it like so many people do. Obviously, it didn’t last very long. I really liked riding around in his truck though.

Lesson learned: if your partner wants to fundamentally change you, it’s probably not going to work out.

Soon after I met my husband and the rest was history. I was only twenty-four when I met my husband online. He always made me feel so comfortable. I can tell him anything and he doesn’t judge me. He’s easygoing, we have so much in common, and I always feel accepted. Sometimes we have really interesting discussions about religion and spirituality. I enjoy them. My husband and I believe similar things, but if we were exactly the same, maybe the discussions wouldn’t be as interesting.

If you are dating or when you were dating, how and when did religion come up? Have your partners’ views differed from yours? Did you avoid the topic, agree to disagree, or were you comfortable discussing it?

Religion always came up early for me as atheism has been an important part of my recovery.

How important is it to you for your partner to be similar or different from you? Did you settle down with someone with different views and how do you deal with that?

 

Also, can someone name a different song to get stuck in my head?

 

Now enjoy some weirdo art!

NaPoWriMo Day #27 — “Free”

Free


My two feet
ignite flames
scorching the earth
for the miles I have covered.
What happens when the fire
goes out?
When I was left
with smoke and ash
my lover carried me.
Everywhere I went
I was helpless,
dependent on his strength only.
Until the day
my stride burns again,
he takes me with him –
thousands of steps
until I’m free again.

 

Only two and a half more weeks of crutches!

How do you feel when you know someone is praying for you?

I had my follow-up appointment on Tuesday from my knee surgery earlier this month. They removed the sutures, but unfortunately, I still can’t drive and must work from home for another four weeks. I start physical therapy next week so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Only three more weeks of crutches!

Before I left work for my surgery, several of my coworkers said I was in their prayers. I politely said thank you and went about my day even though I don’t believe in prayer. A coworker called me last week and said that he and some of my clients actually said a prayer for me at work. I think it’s sweet that they’re thinking of me, but at the same time, it’s just another reminder of how ostracized I feel at work.

I don’t work for a religious organization, but many of my coworkers are very vocal Christians. Unfortunately, god and church are frequent topics of conversation at the office which makes me very uncomfortable. I just don’t think work is the right place to have that kind of discussion. It’s not like it ever turns into a debate – they agree with each other – but it definitely makes me feel like I’m on the outside looking in. I always feel like I have to hide who I truly am just to function at work.

Obviously, I don’t think prayer does anything, but they do. Is it the intention that counts? Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you feel? What do you say when someone says they’ll pray for you?

NaPoWriMo Day #19…Recovery Day # 29384756

Them

Can a sweet and sour love
live happily ever after?
How far can the fire’s embers reach?
Life is in an aquarium
for all the spectators to see.
Naked,
exposed –
like a dandelion in the breeze
I dissipate into a million pieces
carried off by an invisible force.
The spectators grab their popcorn
laugh nervously
and pray it doesn’t happen
to them.

 

When my knee is finally healed, I’m going to get a new couch. I can’t stand this one anymore.

Anyone got any Netflix or Prime Video recommendations?

Do news stories make you emotional? Do you feel differently about things that happened when you were younger?

Tonight I started watching OJ: Made in America on Netflix. It’s an absolutely fascinating series. I just finished episode three. I did not understand how much race played a part in OJ’s career and eventually trial. The series showed racial tensions and police brutality that were going on in LA while OJ was becoming a big star. It was a lot to think about. I really had no idea.

Where were you when the Rodney King video came out? I was in middle school in a white community in rural Ohio. I remember watching it, but not really understanding what was going on. It didn’t seem to affect me at the time. As far as I was concerned, Los Angeles was so far away and so different from where I grew up that it might as well have been another planet. I seemed so far removed from it.

But here I am thirty years later. While I was watching the series they showed the Rodney King video and I just lost it. I just started crying. I couldn’t hold it in. How could anyone justify that brutality? It hit me like a ton of bricks; it was far different from what I felt when I was younger.

I’m just going to chalk it up to getting out of my little rural community and having a little more life experience, but man, that was really hard to watch.

Have news stories ever hit you that way? Do you remember stories that happened when you were younger and they resonated with you differently when you were older? I feel like there’s so much I don’t understand. Do you ever feel that way?