Monday, January 25, 2016

(Losing) My Religion

Every Sunday, since I can remember, has started the same way. Church. As a child I remember being dragged out of bed and dreading the hour and a half to come.

I was baptized Catholic and attended Catholic church until I was in middle school when my family decided to make the shift to Presbyterianism. I took part in most of the sacraments. I was baptized, I had my first communion and my first confession, I was confirmed. 

I went to Sunday School every week when I was too young to attend regular service. I went to Vacation Bible School every summer. When I was too young to attend, I volunteered. I taught Sunday School a few times with my mother. I helped teach children about Jesus at Vacation Bible School for several years. I volunteered for numerous causes. 

So there it is, my christianly resume. 

I did all these things because that was what my family taught me to do from a young age. My mother is very religious. She is active in her faith and is always looking at new ideas about how to best serve God and others. My father does not seem as rooted in his faith but he actively volunteers as a deacon in my home church. 

Religion has always been a part of my life and I have always struggled with it. As a child I had fun at Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and youth groups (I had fun singing and dancing and eating snacks and spending time with my friends.) As I got older I tried more and more to understand the Bible and the meaning behind the songs I was singing or the words I heard in church every Sunday. 

But I had questions. A lot of questions. And I still do. 

When I entered college I saw a new opportunity to explore my beliefs without the presence of my family. But when the first Sunday came, I chose to sleep in. I didn't feel bad about it. I still went to church when I visited my family at home. I didn't mind going. I prayed on Sunday mornings. I didn't think there was anything wrong with that. I knew that I should be more active in my faith but I couldn't quite figure out how to get there.

Honestly, I still don't know how.

I have recently decided to start going to church with a few of my close college friends. I sometimes (rarely) attend the Christian fellowship club at my school. But I often feel as if I have no personal connection with God. I truly want to believe that there is a God, but I struggle to make time for Him in my life. I try to read the Bible and I get lost. It's so hard for me to accept that a text that was written so long ago can still be 100% true. Have we discovered everything about God and Christianity already? Is there nothing new? 

And what about other religions? How did we decide that Christianity is the way? Many other religions have valid ideas about how to treat others and live a full life. Are people who are living meaningful lives and helping others destined to go to hell if they do not believe in the Christian God? Am I going to hell because sometimes explicates are the only words to express my feelings and I sometimes think about sex? 

I want to know God better. I would love to have the passionate faith of some of my close friends. I don't want to doubt, but I do, and I have a feeling that my doubts may never completely disappear. 

I will keep listening and learning ,and maybe someday, I'll have some answers. 


Saturday, January 2, 2016

(Off)stage Fright

Anyone who knows me knows that I love musical theatre. Many of my friends and family members have been forced to watch movie musicals, listen to cast recordings, and hear me spew useless facts about the performers. And although my obsession has mellowed out over time I still love theatre and I really enjoy(ed) performing.

When I started taking voice lessons during my sophomore year of high school I wanted to be a belter like Idina Menzel or Patti LuPone. I had always sung as an alto in choir so I decided that I would never be a soprano like Julie Andrews or Kelli O'Hara. I would screlt (scream-belt) songs in my room when no one was home. I even recorded them and put them on the Internet.

Bad idea. People online can be cruel. I already didn't think much of myself when it came to singing. The negative feedback made me feel even worse. 

As time went by I worked hard to improve. I took every opportunity I could to perform. I auditioned for every solo in choir (I even got one my senior year). I was cast in shows. I stopped trying to sing like Idina Menzel or Julie Andrews and started trying to be myself. 

Yet, to this day if I am not in the shower, in a voice lesson, completely alone, or actually performing in a show, I don't sing. Many times I have been in a car full of friends singing along to the radio and remained silent. Deep down I still doubt myself and my abilities. I know I'm never going to be a Broadway star but why am I so afraid to express myself? 

I am slowly gaining the confidence I know I deserve to have but I still have some work to do.

So to anyone who's ever asked me to sing, I'm sorry I said no. Be patient with me.