Thursday, November 01, 2012

About Me and What I Believe

Well, what I'm working towards as far as my beliefs go anyway. My name is Janeen and I'm a 32 year old mother of two girls. Natalie is 6 (and 3/4!) and Isabelle is 2. I've been married for nine years now to my husband John whose religious beliefs are the exact opposite of mine. We're also almost 17 years apart in age and the combination of the two differences has really made our marriage kind of tumultuous. We have very little in common and that has only gotten worse the older and more set in my ways I've gotten. I do believe that there will be a point in which our marriage will dissolve; whether that is sooner or later depends on how much I can put up with and there are days I'm tempted to walk right out the door (today was one of them especially since I had missed taking my medication for three days).

I've been questioning my religious beliefs since my early teens. To begin with, I didn't really even become aware of the existence of any god until I was 9 years old and decorating my bedroom window for Christmas. Now, I had sung Christmas songs in the past, was learning Christmas songs that year for a concert but it really didn't sink in that there was anything behind those songs. We also sang songs about Santa Claus! Anyway, I was putting the word X-mas on my window (because I didn't have the room nor could I spell Christmas) and my mom was offended by this. Well, I didn't know there was something wrong with it, like I said, I didn't even really know what the holiday was about. It was just a nice family tradition as far as I was concerned, none of it had any meaning though beyond that. So my mom tried to explain to me about Jesus but I didn't get it. I hadn't been to a church since I was 5 years old and I barely remembered ever going. I recall a Sunday school class but very vaguely.

Fast forward a year and I'm preparing to start at a new school after the Christmas holiday. I was going to be going to a Catholic school. Thinking back, I'm not sure exactly why my mom thought that would provide a better education than a public school but ah well, it was something different and I hadn't been doing all that great in the public school. Kids were horrible and mean there and I was bullied quite a bit the three years after kindergarten I was there. Before I was to start school, I had to kind of take a crash course in Catholicism because I knew NOTHING. We never did any prayers so I didn't know any. I barely knew what I would need to know to get through religion classes. I started 4th grade, halfway through the year, not only at a new school but at a school that was based on a religion I knew absolutely nothing about. Thank goodness I was a fast learner! So that was me at 10 and for at least a few years, I took on the Catholic school thing pretty well. I also learned about the belief system I was thrust into and took it on and being a kid, really thought nothing of it. I still believed in Santa Claus so why not believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

So, I didn't think much of it at first but the older I started to get and the more I learned about things, the more I started to question things. I mean, it's easy to believe what the church (and the bible) says when you're young and you don't know much yourself but as you learn, you naturally start to question what you've been told. I stopped believing in Santa at 11 (having proof he didn't exist). I started questioning the existence God not too many years after that, no more than 4. I couldn't understand how there was a beginning for all of us and yet no beginning for God. Where did he come from? When did time begin? How did it all begin? These are natural questions that anyone would start to ask but my mother's response was that if I had been born at a different time in history, I would have been burned at the stake. Nice. Well, since I wasn't getting the answers at home, I took them to school. Unfortunately, the religion teacher I had my freshman year of high school was an idiot. I still don't think he really had a teaching certification but I could be wrong. He not only didn't answer the questions I have but he gave me an A even though I was trying to be as difficult as possible in the class! That was my last semester in a Catholic school and I transferred to the public school for the second semester. I remember before that happened though we had confession and I remember confessing that I was questioning my beliefs. The priest told me it was normal. ARGH! Was anyone listening to me?!

And so that's where it began and it's been over a decade and a half of questioning and searching and trying to figure out what I believed before I finally reached the conclusion that I simply did not believe, AT ALL. And with that conclusion, all the pieces fell into place and it was like, "Wow, why didn't I figure this out before now?" There's a lot of reasons for that and I have no doubt my marriage had some to do with that not to mention that there is a lot of pressure in society to confirm to one religious belief or another. So, with that falling into place finally, I began to search for others. I have been very lucky to find a local group of freethinkers and have been able to access and read some very good, thought provoking books and with this reading, I'm working on figuring out more of where my belief system is. I don't think it's just atheist, I think there is more to it. I would definitely say I'm a freethinker, possibly a pantheist, and likely a humanist. If these terms make no sense, do not worry as I will share information on these later. Right now, I'm just kind of trying to get my words out here.

I plan to use this blog as a place I can think. I can't talk to my husband about my beliefs (other than to debate and he's rather judgmental and insulting towards me when it comes to what I believe) and there's still a lot of information for me to process. There are also quotes and things I would like to find and save not to mention my thoughts on them as well as my thoughts on books I'm reading. This blog is in no way intended to try to lure anyone to my beliefs. Religious beliefs are a very personal thing and not everyone will be inclined to think or believe the same way (why there are so many different kinds of religions to begin with). I do hope that it gets people to think, maybe question. Perhaps those questions will lead somewhere, perhaps not. It took me more than a decade and a half to reach this place myself, more than half my life. Those beginning questions were like seeds from a tree that took years to grow and take root and finally become strong enough to stand up to the winds of challenge that come from all over. Okay, that was a lame metaphor but you see where I'm coming from.

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