I remember sitting in the audience, watching the choir sing, wishing I was up there with them. That was the only thing I truly enjoyed while being in church: hearing all the instruments coming together in such harmony. Then came the preaching. I never truly understood the sermons or could ever relate to them. I would see people clapping their hands and yelling “Amen!" and didn’t understand why I couldn’t do the same. I grew up in a very religious Christian household. My father was a preacher and my mom was a deaconess, so it was always expected that their two children would be perfect Christians. All my life, I felt like I had to live up to their expectations.
When I was in ninth grade, my dad taught a sermon about having faith in God and believing in how God sacrificed his only son to save all of humanity. Me being the fourteen-year-old I was, couldn’t understand how someone would give their only son for random people. After a while, the questions started burning inside me and I had to have the answers. So, one sunny Saturday morning I finally built up the courage to ask my dad these questions. I asked him: "How do we know that God is even real? "How do we know there's even a heaven or hell?" "What if reading the bible, going to church, and remembering the ten commandants, were all for nothing?" When I asked these questions, I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got from my dad. He first smiled, gave me a hug, and told me he loved me. He said that he was proud of me for expanding my knowledge about my faith and questioning myself. Then he told me that I had to build a relationship with God first and I could ask God these questions. This wasn’t the response I was looking for.
The middle of ninth grade was a struggle for me. I didn’t have motivation for school or pretty much anything. Everything I once enjoyed suddenly wasn’t worth my time. I started to slip into depression and my faith in God was completely gone. I couldn’t understand: if God loved me so much, why was he allowing these horrible incidents to happen to me and toxic thoughts to flood my head? I started going to therapy once a week. I later found out that my therapist was a Christian. While I was in my therapy sections, the topic of Christianity would come up now and then and we would sometimes talk about it. I soon found out that my therapist struggled with her faith also and how it's good to ask questions about things and subjects that you don’t fully understand. She told me that faith was having belief in a person, thing, or idea that I couldn't physically see. She explained that having faith in something could be as simple as a chair. You strongly believe that the chair is going to hold your weight and not break apart. That was when everything started to click, like a puzzle of questions and ideas all coming together as one.
I stayed up all night and thought about this mysterious concept of "faith." I started to go into deep thought about how we as humans have faith in pretty much everything regardless of our religious preference. Thinking and really focusing on the broad idea of faith made me more curious about other religious practices and how faith plays a role in other beliefs or concepts. I still question my belief and the concept of a higher, more powerful being. Now when these questions do pop up in my head, I don’t feel discouraged or further away from God. I embrace these questions and encourage others to ask questions too. Without speaking out and asking questions, how can we grow as human beings?