So, let's talk about religion.
I have struggled with religion my entire life. Maybe "struggled" is the wrong word. I guess I should probably say that I just don't understand religion. No, that's not right either. I just don't "get it". I've never been able to understand why some people have such a complete and unwavering faith in God. I don't have anything against those people. I just don't understand why they feel that way and I don't. Do they know something I don't? Were they taught something that I missed out on?
My parents took me to church when I was growing up and I fought it every step of the way. I didn't want to get up on Sunday morning. I wanted to sleep in. And the only memory I have of going to confirmation classes is that they were on Wednesday nights and our Pastor wouldn't cancel it the night of one of the few Middle School dances so I had to miss the dance. Maybe that's what turned me off to religion (just kidding). But hey, I knew the 10 Commandments and I was able to rattle off all of the names of the books of the Old and New Testaments (and before you ask, no, I don't still remember them.) To me, church was just somewhere that my parents made me go where we sang songs and had to sit still while we listened to long, boring sermons that had absolutely nothing to do with me. Don't get me wrong, I learned the basics and knew that I was supposed to be good to others...yada yada yada...so the main lesson got through. But as I got older, I really struggled with whether or not I believed in God. If someone asked me, I couldn't really give them an answer. Did I believe that there was a man living in the sky that knew everything we did every second of the day? No, not really. I guess that was the only real image I had of God. If if I didn't have any proof that God existed, why was I supposed to trust that he would watch over me and make everything okay? And how did other people accept that so easily? Again, did they know something I didn't?
Don't get me wrong, I still don't think there is a man living in the sky that knows everything we do every second of the day. But I do believe that we are each a product of the Universe (aka God) and that we are each born with everything that we need to lead a full, complete and happy life (i.e., created in God/the Universe's image). I believe that the Universe is infinitely abundant and that the Universe is for us (as opposed to against us), just waiting to give us everything we want if we will let it. What amazes me is how most of us (me included) resist accepting everything the universe has to offer. We tell ourselves that we're not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough, etc. and if we believe that about ourselves, why would we think that anyone (including the Universe) would want to do anything for us or give us anything that we want? The Universe is funny that way. It's like an echo. Whatever you give is what you get back. So if you're constantly complaining about not having enough then you'll get more of the same. But if you give thanks and gratitude for the good things you have in your life, then you'll get more good things. But in this day and age, it's very hard to focus on the good things in our lives. Everywhere we go we hear about everything that's going wrong in the world, whether it's through the internet, from our friends or (God forbid) the TV news. That's why it's important to remember that everything we need to be happy is already inside of us. You can't ignore everything that's going on around you, but you can REFUSE to let it take away your happiness. Happiness truly does come from within. You just have to keep nurturing it and feeling it, no matter what.