All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Monday afternoon I spent several hours in a car with a coworker driving to DC for a conference. Three and a half hours provides time for ample conversation, and naturally the changes in my faith came up. For the first time, I actually took the time and made the effort to think about and articulate what I believe now, and why.
It was quite liberating.
I said out loud to someone that I don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God, a redeemer, or the Messiah. She asked me who my redeemer is, who I go to for strength, what keeps me good.
My answer? Me.
I choose to live the way that I do because it’s the right thing to do. I have no fear of eternal damnation. What I do have is empathy and compassion for man. That’s what “keeps me good.”
I still pray. Because prayer, for me, is me talking to myself. It always has been. It’s a time where I talk problems out. I vent, rant, or even express gratitude. But it’s still just me, talking to me, for me. It’s a time to get things off my chest. It’s NOT me talking to some other being, asking them to magically make life better or give me strength to deal with life. My strength comes from within.
She asked if I believe in fate. I do not. Life is the consequences of the choices we make. Nothing ever “just happens.” It’s the same with good and evil. I don’t believe anyone is inherently good or evil. who we are is a product of the choices that we make. I choose to be good. Sometimes I choose to be selfish. A lot of times I want to be selfish, yet still choose to do the right thing.
It’s all about choice.
There are still some irrational beliefs that I hold. Or maybe irrational is the wrong word. While I no longer believe in the God of the Bible, I still look around in awe and wonder and can’t help but think that something had a hand in it. Is it an all-loving, involved in our lives, infinite being? No. Is it an all knowing punisher? No. But who or what it is, I don’t know. I don’t really care to know as it doesn’t affect my life one way or the other.
I do believe in a spirit world. I can’t tell you what it looks like – it’s strange for me to believe in spirits when I don’t believe in heaven or hell. It’s just this feeling I have that there’s more to this world than what I can see. But this probably has something to do with my silly fascination with the supernatural – vampires, witches, werewolves, etc.
But Mandi, haven’t you said over and over again that you’ve experienced, felt, and spoken with God? Absolutely. But after more objective reflection, I’ve realized that what many people had been telling me was correct. It was emotional. It was all purely emotional. And realizing that has actually been a great relief.
Ultimately though, in the things that matter, it’s all about me. I know that sounds horrible, but it’s not. Life is a product of our choices. What I choose – how I live – is what matters. What you choose is what matters in your life.