Isn’t all that matters is that I even ~have~ a relationship with religion?
I grew up in a family that is religious by most standards; my grandmother went to mass every morning until she couldn’t tell the difference between the streets anymore, my mom used to participate in bible studies until ~personal~ things got in the way, my siblings and I waited on the highways to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis—thrice in the span of one week. But if we’re talking about my personal self being religious, I can’t say that I am.
Technically speaking, the word “religious” simply means “relating to or believing in a religion”—but today’s society has morphed the definition into something a little more…intense. Being religious means you practice tradition A through tradition Z, go to mass whenever you can, live out the teachings to the tee and defend it to anyone willing to make an educated argument. And all of this is fine; but it just isn’t me.
I miss the occasional Sunday mass—usually because I can’t get myself up off the bed—and there are so many things I’ve forgotten from religion class. I don’t memorize the mysteries of the rosary; I fumble between words in some of the prayers. And even though they come once a year, I’m always surprised when the holidays roll around: Ash Wednesday, Easter Sunday, the start of Advent Season. I have, on more than one occasion, challenged the thoughts of religious leaders; I have rolled my eyes at homilies about the position of men over women and the slight mention that my religion is better than anyone else’s.
I have that disconnect with faith, as I do with most things. My relationship with religion isn’t what one might call close, tight-knit or ideal. She and I have an understanding that I can lean on her when I want to and I will speak to her when it feels right, but we never demand anything. I don’t ask that all my problems be solved with fervent prayer and she doesn’t require that to see me often. We’re in one of those friendships that feel like home when we look for it, but we don’t suffocate each other either.
Thank god my parents haven’t forced anything either.
Throughout my life, religion has been there as a guide, but I can’t say I ever saw it as the only way to live my life—and I’m completely comfortable with that. I do not live in guilt or ever feel like I’m lacking because I know what and who I believe in, which is enough for me. It is, after all, my relationship with religion we’re talking about here. And what other people might call shortages on my end, these things only ever become an issue when others stick their noses in it—kind of like everything else, huh? But you know what, it’s my say and I’m #SorryNotSorry if my relationship makes you uncomfortable.
Art Alexandra Lara