Growing up I was quite religious. At least I labelled myself to be. Truth be told, I don’t know the true meaning of religion, nor what it actually means to be religious. I grew up with influences from both Christianity and Hindu faiths. I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school and learnt the teachings of the Holy Bible as well as the story of Jesus. Much of my childhood also involved spending time with my family in India, a place where religion is widespread and celebrated immensely. Much of my family’s culture and daily practices embodied various Hindu beliefs and rituals which were handed down through the family generationally, probably without anyone questioning its origin, or purpose. It is fair to say that my early exposure to the Hindu faith in such a direct level influenced my ideas as well as my identity as being religious.
As years went on, and as I progressed through my teens, stress became more and more apparent, forcing me to look within myself for support. I started to pray. At least I thought I was praying. All I was really doing was asking God for things, or hoping that if I prayed that good things would happen to me and bad things wouldn’t. It was like a protective mechanism or a superstition – “If I pray that I do well in my match tomorrow, nothing bad will happen.” I would ‘pray’ every morning and every night. It kind of gave me a sense of confidence at first. So much so that I started doing it for everything. Soon enough I was asking God to give me a good report card, to stop my parents fighting, to make me a better cricketer and even to help me get that girl on the bus I had my eye on.
But was someone really listening to my wants and desires? If so, who was it? And why weren’t they making my wishes come true? How come I didn’t get straight A’s? Why were my parents still fighting? And why wasn’t I a successful sportsman?
It took a number of years for me to reach a level of maturity and understanding that enabled me to move past this pleading. Asking God for things put me in a false sense of security. I was asking for things that I thought I wanted. Things that I thought could come true by simply closing my eyes and asking a non responding figure in my mind that I named God. What kind of crap logic was I applying? How could I be so naive? Did I honestly think this was the key to unlocking the box to each and every desire?
A few years ago I reached a point in my discovery where I realised that life is relentless. My life which up until that point, maintained such an equilibrium, suddenly spun on its head and nothing felt quite the same. Several monumental moments over just an 18 month period changed my outlook on life as well as the way I look inwards.
I don’t really consider myself religious these days. I still believe that someone is watching over us all. I still believe that we have been put on this earth for a purpose. I just no longer believe that we should narrow our beliefs and understandings to the ways a particular faith articulates it.
We should have faith in what we see with our own eyes. In what we feel. In what we experience.
Life will play out in ways you never thought possible. It will present some extreme hurdles and provide some truly testing moments. Life can also throw some incredible opportunities our way we never thought we would get. Experience has taught me this, and I am better for it. I never asked God for any of these experiences, but they came my way and helped shaped me and my beliefs. I am now thankful.
I realised that I cannot control everything. Not all my wishes and desires are going to come true. Life probably won’t pan out the way I imagine it. It was a hard pill to swallow, but I get it now. I know now that I’m not the captain of this vessel despite what many may say. I don’t know what lies ahead or what is likely to meet me on my journey, I am now just along for the ride.