Looking for God(s)
The biggest struggle anyone will face in their lifetime will invariably be with their faith. The idea that some cosmic sky father looks down upon us and creates us in his image is a hard pill to swallow. However, as big as that dose is, I am inclined to believe that it's one that everyone needs. I was never able to bring myself to disbelieving and becoming an atheist. There were just too many questions left unanswered that I reasoned could only be explained by something divine.
Most of you know that I'm a southern guy. I grew up right here in South Carolina in the Bible Belt, not too far from where I'm sitting now. If today were 30 years ago, I'd be sitting in the front row of the Baptist church that I grew up in as my mother kept a clean line of sight to the back of my head to ensure that I behaved myself. Later tonight, I'd be right back in that front row again as the evening services were conducted, and I would be right back in the church on Wednesday night with the youth group.
Needless to say, I grew up in the church. I went on mission trips and was a member of almost every club I could be a member of. That was what was expected of me and most others that grew up where I did. You would be hard-pressed to find someone in my little town of 800 people that didn't go to our little church and spend as much time there as I did. In fact, I would imagine that most of those I grew up with are still attending that same church with their children as I write this.
You would think that having spent as much time as I have in the church, I wouldn't be Pagan today, but here we are. I worship a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses that most of my followers will call false gods. But that's ok. I recognize that the subject of faith is a sensitive one to many people and will never hold any ill will towards anyone that subscribes to one particular faith or another. My own wife is a devout Catholic, and many of my friends are priests and pastors.
But the question remains as to how I became a pagan with such a background. The answer isn't all that simple. You see, I tried very hard in my youth to fully believe in the Christian faith and all its teachings. I read my bible regularly and, as I have already said, attended church often. Still, It was something that I never felt like I was supposed to. Instead, I always found myself asking questions that my level of faith didn't support the answers to.
Before I go on, I want to make something abundantly clear. None of what I am about to say is in any way an attack on the Christian faith or any other. It is simply the understanding of these things that I have come to as I walked the path of life.
As a young man, I was always drawn to the divine, or at least its concept. But what that divine thing was, I couldn't accurately describe. When approaching the Christian faith, I came to understand that the possibility of something such as God existing was a fantastical thing. Us mere mortals being compared to such a thing was something that, again, is hard to swallow.
As I grew older and my questions grew larger in number, I tried to answer them as I felt an important piece of myself was missing without doing so. I still held onto the idea that the existence of something divine was fantastical, but I could not believe it either. However, I did reason that if something so fantastical and even outlandish from a mortal perspective as possible, then it was equally fantastical, outlandish, and even possible that more than one existed.
I considered that age of Christianity and, through my research, discovered that there were many that had practices adopted by Christian over the last few thousand years. I had to ask myself how I could be so sure that the faith I grew up with was the right one when there had been so many that came before. Could I say, without a doubt, that all of those others religions were wrong? Not without faith, I couldn't. And faith was something that I didn't have a whole lot of.
It took some time, but as I explored the origins of various religions, I came across Germanic Paganism. Yeah, that one. Odin, Thor, Freyr, Freya, Ymir, and so on. I was drawn to it by a force I could not and still cannot explain, but I was compelled to dive deeper into it. In doing so, I found many of my own thoughts and feelings were being explained in a way that made sense to me and felt true.
Now, if my Christian friends are reading this, they'll probably be assuming that it was the work of the devil or something along those lines that led me to where I am now, and that's alright. Their faith is important to them, and I do not question its validity. No, in fact, I believe just the opposite. I believe that they are 100% correct in their faith, but I also believe that Muslims, Hindus, Jewish people, and others are also 100% correct in their faiths as well.
Remember when I said that I couldn't say that all of those other religions were wrong and that the existence of more than one God was possible? That same principle applies here. I believe that all of the Gods and Goddesses exist and that it is up to us to choose. I have made my choice and refuse to begrudge anyone else the same.
Whether or not you agree with anything that I have said here is irrelevant. Who or what someone chooses to worship is no one's business but their own provided that their choice of divine makes them a better person because of it. I have always considered the point of view that if every faith were boiled down to their code of morality, it would be reduced to just 4 simple words.
Don't be a dick.
The rest is just a personal choice and to the naming of the God or Gods that one chooses to believe in. As for me, I have my Gods, and I pray to them daily. I engage in rituals and practices that not very many will understand or even approve of from the point of view of their faith, but nonetheless, it is what it is.
My advice to anyone searching their soul for that missing piece of the puzzle as I was, it's this.
Never stop searching until you find it. No matter what it turns out to be, the fact is that we all need something to believe in. It's in our nature as human beings to bring the chaotic to order and find meaning in the seemingly meaningless that abounds within the world we find ourselves in.