I really did miss out a lot on fun church youth group activities when I was younger. It may have helped me be a better, more well-rounded person earlier in life rather than waiting until I became 21 or 22 for that to happen. I used to think that in church the preacher would just stand up there and tell you that you have to believe certain things and do certain things without any discussion – that you’re just supposed to accept what he says as the absolute truth, like you’re being pressured into things. Then there was the matter of pressuring other people into becoming a Christian which people typically went about in all the wrong ways, ways that turned me against church even more. The people I would have listened to and could have positively influenced me didn’t try so I was content being agnostic, living in my world of academia and baseball. And I saw people out doing things that just did not seem like things God would approve of, and people actually admitting to doing sinful things, but it’d be okay because they could repent or confess on Sunday and all would be well. It’s as if they weren’t even trying to do good because God will love you no matter what. And it didn’t help that my parents didn’t take me to church, except the Unitarian church. That was mostly during high school times.
In college I never got to interact with Christians, at least not any active ones, until the summer between junior and senior year. A couple of friends kind of changed my perspective a little bit with their dedication and openness about their faith yet not putting any pressure on me or others. Becoming good friends with someone else who was a pastor further educated me about Christianity and gave me a more positive view. But coming to Warner Robins and seeing my workmates and friends pray before meals and invite me to their church and in general just be more satisfied and stable than people I’ve known before, and then finally deciding to go with my now-best friend to church and see all the people setting good examples and seemingly trying to follow God’s guidance all the time rather than ignore it for 6 days and ask for forgiveness on Sunday helped me over the hump and rejoin the church last month after something like a 17 year detour to Unitarianism and Agnosticism.
Anyway, back to the pressuring thing. I hate it when people try to pressure me into doing things. Sometimes I give in to something I don’t want to do and then feel bad about it later, and sometimes I wind up not doing something I may have wanted to do because I was irritated with someone pestering me about it. Either way, it rarely seems to have a positive impact. Some recent events/conversations had me thinking about that a lot today. I don’t want to put others in that sort of position. There are ways of expressing my opinions and desires and having rational discussions without being pushy. Sometimes when you really want something, the best thing you can do is set it free and let it run its course.
Christianity and religion of any kind is basically a good thing. There are many positive lessons and good life values that can be taken from religion, as long as people don’t take it too seriously. We all need someone to blame our problems on or to thank for our good fortune at the times that we know were basically out of our control or our friends’ control. So, believe what you want, take the good from religion, and allow others to believe what they want as well.