I know I had a strong relationship with God when I was a kid (as strong as it can be for a kid, at least). As young as I was back then, I easily accepted that there’s someone who I don’t see who loves me, looks after me and cares for me. Never once did I wonder where is He, being told that He is in heaven was enough for me.
Even when I was being bullied by my classmates, I knew He consoled me every single day that I cried. Though I would get pissed at the people who were hurting me, I would only get pissed but never too angry at them to the point that I would hate them. He kept my heart pure and soft.
John 3:16 was the very first Bible verse I ever memorized. I was in 1st grade back then in a Born Again Christian school (I’m thankful that my parents sent me there). I think it was perfect that a kid of 5 years old of age learned this passage before anything else. Any kid deserves to know from the beginning that someone loves him or her fiercely and that he or she is meant to have a great life.
But growing up can really be a pain.
Towards the end of my grade school years, I was itching for something new, something big. The small Born Again Christian school had become too small for me. I wanted to meet new people. I wanted to be in a new environment, a different world. I wanted huge things for myself and I came to the conclusion that staying where I was wouldn’t help me get them.
Transferring to an all-girls school was probably the best and the worst decision I ever made in my life.
I love my high school. I met a lot of awesome people there – cool teachers and great friends. It smashed my shell and turned my shyness and meekness into confidence and fierceness. Despite girls being ruthless on their own, I wasn’t made fun of. I was also pushed up to my limits academically and hardened my endurance for tough and stressful school moments.
However, I grew apart from God. Being in an all-girls school managed by nuns meant that I had to embrace a religion that was entirely new to me. Yes, maybe I was baptized as a Catholic (my certificate of baptismal can attest to that) but I wasn’t raised in that. I don’t even have that much memory of going to a Catholic church to attend mass when I was a kid (the only time I stepped near the church in our area was when I played with other kids every summer afternoons).
Religion classes were a pain. I rejected the doctrines being taught to us. I disliked my religion textbooks. I shook my head every gospel reading because it only focused on four books of the Bible. I groaned every Advent season because it meant that we had to pray the rosary every class. I didn’t understand praying the rosary because I was taught to only pray to God and Jesus not Mary. Feasts days of the saints left me dumbfounded because I never really knew who they were.
It was complicated. I wondered if following God was really that hard. I hated everything that they’re shoving down my throat to the point that I asked if there was a God at all because I didn’t want to waste my time in all of those things if there was going to be none. Thankfully, I had a friend who kept me in line and told me that it’s better to believe in God and to find out there’s none than to believe there’s not only to find out there’s one.
So, yes, I kept my belief that there’s God. But I told myself that I’m not going to embrace the religion that I was being surrounded by.
I wanted to go back to the time when I was in grade school wherein we would do devotions everyday at morning assembly (I didn’t know it was called devotion back then), wherein Christian Living classes meant that we’re only studying one Bible verse for almost an hour, wherein we would do praise and worship once a week with loud singing and interpretative dancing, wherein we’re free to pray for things we need to pray for every class.
I yearned for those because that was when I felt God. But I know I had to move on and maybe find a place that will be exactly like where I came from. However, for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to look for it. So I lived with my own kind of religion. I settled on just believing in God. I didn’t pick up the Bible. I just made myself that knowing God and praying to Him will make things alright.