Living Through Belonging, With Grace

I was never a very Godly child. I grew up in an Atheist home without much connection to religion, however by the age of 13, I was quick to recognize the strong bond that I had in my heart to God--whatever God may be--he, her, they, spirit. I don't follow the Bible to a T and I don't know hardly any hymns--my connection to God is a non-religious one, based in historical accounts, as well as what my conviction leads me to believe as truth. Okay, so there was a big bang. But, what caused the big bang? Well, atoms and particles and all that fun stuff. But, where did those come from? Why is there such pain and suffering in our world, but also so much joy and belonging? How come I lived such a difficult time in my childhood so I could do good in the world in my future? Why do incidents seem to happen so perfectly, so strategically?

These were all questions I dug deep inside myself to answer in my early teen years. I attended a few church sermons with a friend or two, trying my hand at different religious institutions throughout my early years. My folks would always aim to celebrate different holidays in our home, including Chanukah and Christmas at attempts to enrich my education on religions while allowing me to choose which path I would someday follow.

Just a few weeks ago, I began attending a local open and affirming church--one that not only is open to, but celebrates all walks of life and encourages diversity in their place of worship. Not to say that I will rush to join this congregation right away, but it's certainly restoring my faith in the practice of loving God and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

This is how my religion would go (if I had one), best summed up in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "I can't for the life of me imagine that God will say, 'I will punish you because you are black, you should've been white; I will punish you because you are a woman, you should have been a man; I will punish you because you are homosexual, you ought to have been heterosexual. I can't for the life of me believe that is how God sees things."

Grace is something that we all have innately inside of us, but it's our choice whether or not to utilize it in our daily lives as we walk with God in our everyday. Judging others as they lead their life with their own sense of meaning and their own definition of what they believe is right (whether this is a life believed to be lived with God, or without) is not our job. Grace is greatly about compassion, understanding and acceptance, among many other facets of the word.

My sins are the things I did last week that accidentally hurt my neighbor, or the "humorous" comment I made that consequently offended my friend--not my sexual orientation, racial or gender identity, or choice of whether or not I cuss when I'm feeling passionate about something. I am human, and humans are imperfect beings; I will admit that much. However, I will never admit to being flawed in my core identity when I am not.

God, in so many ways to me is so much more on the bandwagon of loving yourself and the mission you were put on this earth to complete. I will end this post sharing a quote from a favorite of mine, social researcher Brené Brown. This quote was shared at the last sermon, and was also one of the first pieces of wisdom that I took during my freshman year of college.