- This is in answer to:
- Would you describe yourself as spiritual, religious, or something else? See all answers
- August 27, 2010 by emarrahcontessa
- What I Believe
I don't really know if I can describe myself as a religious or spiritual person. All I know is that I believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is real and that He sent Jesus Christ to die for my sins. And the more I understand this, the more I love Jesus because He has set me free from sin and the shackles of religion.
Five years ago, I would never have been able to write that down. I was just a teenager who loves the world so much and would happily do away with church if not for my persistent mother. My whole life, I have been going to the Catholic Church but I never understood anything. Why do we pray and kiss images and statues? Why do we call on "saints" to ask them to pray for us? Why do we have to do this whole ritual of a mass all over again? To appease God? But if Jesus Christ already died on that cross in Calvary 2000 years ago to pay for our sins, why do we have to appease God through a mass? Isn't what Jesus did enough?
I had all these questions in my head but I realized that no one is willing to give me a real answer soon so I just let it be. I became like a living-zombie. I didn't have any other purpose in life but to graduate and strive to become rich and, eventually, die. That was that.
It was during my first year in college when God led people into my life who pointed me to Jesus. I was the usual "lost" freshman. Everything was new to me -- the place, the people, etc. -- and I was just feeling my way around. I went with people who drank hard and partied hard (although I never really drank. I don't know why I didn't give in.), I went with people who complained a lot about themselves, I went with people who were louder than a whole crowd (trust me. Even though there were only five or six of them, you'd feel like you're in a stadium.), I went with people who studied like there's no tomorrow (and I also went with people who procrastinated like there's no tomorrow), I hung out with the movie-addicts, the coffee-addicts, the chain-smokers, the social-climbers and the anti-social kids. It was just the time to experiment being with different kinds of people and observe them.
Then I was chosen to represent our class (along with two others) in a university-wide spelling competition. I remember observing this one girl in my class who doesn't act like anyone else. She wasn't trying hard to be seen as someone else. In fact, she was comfortable with just being herself. I was always intrigued by her. She would get high marks in class although she wasn't anything like the overachievers in the class. She was even chosen as a leader for our speech choir and, instead of exasperation from uncooperative classmates, she showed great discipline. I could tell that she was really different from everyone but I just couldn't point at what makes her different, yet.
I didn't place in that spelling competition but she did. And being the unbeatable spelling champ in my elementary and high school years, I was shaken. And I was even more determined to find out what it is that's different in this girl.
I remember one night before the speech choir practice when there were only four of us. And that girl, being the leader, arrived first. And even though she complained why the others were late, she didn't just sit there and complain the whole time. She would also pick up her pink bible and study a verse they were supposed to discuss at bible study that night which she missed because of the practice. I was amazed because of the pink color of the bible and I was even more amazed that she would freely highlight some of the passages and even write on the sides. Back home as Catholics, I don't think we were allowed to do that. The bible is a super-sacred book that is only read in church (by the priest) and placed at the altar at home. More than that, I was amazed at how she would talk about church like she really enjoyed it.
Then I met another girl in my college who is also a Christian. Both of them were going to the same church and both of them were praying for me. They would give me tracts and they would also bring me to college bible studies at their church. I was always happy to go so I can find out more about what they believe in. I was even more amazed to find out that in this little gathering of college students, there were young people who are so on fire for the Lord. They are so genuine in their faith and I could tell that when they worship, it's real. They read the bible like it's a letter from someone they love -- over and over again. It was love -- not mere religion.
The more I went to these bible studies, the more I understood of God's love. He loves me so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross in my place as an atonement for my sins and the sins of the world. I understood that He died so I can be free to live my life for Him. And He was resurrected to tell everyone that everything He did on the cross is finished -- every sin paid in full -- and that He triumphed over death. The Lord opened my eyes to His truth bible study after bible study. In fact, it would be my favorite day of the week!
I was 16 at that time when I finally understood that it's more than a religion or a creed. It's more than rituals and memorized prayers. But it's a relationship with the God of the universe. He's a very personal God and He deals with us on a personal level. And I needn't do anything to earn my salvation. I just had to believe in Jesus, accept the free gift of salvation, and understand that everyday is grace from God.
I don't know if you call that religious or spiritual but to me it's neither.