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I've always considered myself too cynical to be religious. Even as a kid at a Christian school I always listened to tales from the Bible with doubts in the back of my mind. It is also very easy to look back over the years at the countless human conflicts and attribute many of them to religion; it never made sense to me that people would kill each other over which of their gods (both of whom usually condemned killing) was real. With that being said, religion has always peaked my interest. I studied philosophy and ethics at A level and always found it fascinating to see how religion plays a part in the everyday ethical and moral make up of people.
Despite my doubts I've never questioned why people are religious though. I think it makes a lot of sense. The pride, the belonging and the faith. What I'm most envious of though is the absolute belief in Christianity that everything forms a part of God's larger plan.
"I can't do this on my own"
I've written articles before about being lost in life; at an age where it feels like I should have achieved a lot more, or have much clearer ideas on what I'd be doing in the rest of my life. There's so much pressure on people from a young age to pursue big career goals and for a lot of us it isn't always that simple. I seem to spend a majority of my life trying to make decisions and changing my mind. Where I will live, what I will do and how long I'll do it for are just constant questions that float around in my brain. I often find it difficult to relax just trying to constantly plan and control everything. This is why I envy Christians. How freeing, to wholeheartedly believe and understand that whatever may occur God has a plan in place. To know that you're not alone in what you're going through and that God is on your side, putting all the pieces together to form the end result of your life. For us humans the future can be really scary, it's the unknown and we can spend far too long worrying about it but it is reassuring to believe that actually it isn't the complete unknown, God decided long ago what the path was for us. In this way then life is less like tetris, frantically throwing together random pieces and trying to make it work, but more like a jigsaw puzzle. The final image is already within the pieces, we just need to put them together. I've written in the past about not spending too long worrying about the destination because we forget to enjoy the journey, but if you believe the destination is pre planned and waiting for you then surely you can't help but relax and enjoy the ride.
"I feel good sometimes I don't"
There is more that this belief in God's plan can do for us though. Not only will it allow us to focus on ourselves and enjoy our life as it comes, it will also allow us to deal with hardships. One of my favourite ever things to watch is Last Chance U on Netflix, and particularly the Basketball edition. The filming of this series takes place in LA and follows Christian coach John Moseley and his community college team. During the filming of the series the tragic death of Kobe Bryant occurs and being basketball players based in LA you can imagine how devastated the students were to hear the news. From this though arises what for me is a beautiful moment in which coach Mosely assures one of his students that actually Heaven for us is the destination, it is where we want to be, and that we shouldn't be feeling bad for Bryant because he's had the chance to get there. From what are completely tragic circumstances it was so empowering to see how belief had allowed for this positive spin. Of course it doesn't make the news any less sad but it just takes some of that weight off.
The idea that you can go through life and face whatever adversity that hits you but be able to confidently conquer it all safely with the knowledge that it's all part of God's wider plan is astonishing to me. Often when we go through times of trouble the first question on people's lips is 'why?' however for Christians this isn't something that needs to be asked. As I mentioned before I'm not exactly a religious person but I do appreciate what it does for people who are part of that community. I also think that's the absolute belief that whatever happens is part of God's wider plan, and that whatever adversity we face is all for a part of something, for a reason, is something that for atheists like myself can't really be replicated. As I think to my life now, the rut I seem to be stuck in, and my dad passing, I can't help but wonder that these moments would have been somewhat easier to deal with if I felt there was some divine reason, that it would all be worth it or that no matter how bad it feels now ultimately it's going to lead to some good, whether that's 10 days or 10 years from now. Of course I'm not under the illusion that life is any easier, or that pain is less painful for those who do believe, but more that these things will be conquered more easily safe in the knowledge that God has your back.
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