As children we were told about God and religion in a very vague sense. We read the bible together as a family every Saturday. We knew morally right from wrong and what was right and wrong within Rasta. But I don’t remember ever feeling like I really knew God or what religion meant. My relationship with God really came to be when I was 8. I needed answers, so I prayed and I asked God “why do good people have to die?” My answer started my relationship with God. There was no parting of the heavenly skies, thunder and lightning or this big omnipresent being coming to talk to me. It was the subtleness of my own inner voice saying “when people die we realize how precious life is. We see its value and their value to us.” From then I knew that God was inside of me. I have never had a spirit of fear towards my God. I talk to God as openly as I do with any friend. I am in tune with the God within me so much that I am drawn to the God within others. It was the God within that drew me to the first man I ever fell in love with. His inner strength and compassion was palpable.
Growing up I asked questions about the Rastafarian faith and sometimes I was given a direct answer I could understand. As I got older I stopped believing myself to be a faithful practicing Rastafarian. I didn’t agree with everything nor did I follow the exact same lifestyle. I had no idea about the different Christian denominations so in college I visited non-denominational, Baptist, Seven-Day Adventist, and African Methodist Episcopalian churches. I went to my first Baptist church and left feeling scared saying never again. The pastor touching foreheads, people dropping to the ground shaking, speaking in tongues and being covered in cloth was quite an experience and not for me. I didn’t mind hearing a good word that actually motivated or inspired me. But I did not like hearing a pastor say “no matter what you’re going thru Jesus is the only way.” That was my cue to get up and leave and say never again. I had a college friend that did not believe in Jesus and it made me question if I really did. We never prayed to Jesus. Regardless of the simple letter change we called out to Negus or Jess-us. To me Jesus and Jess-us were two different people. This contributed to my Rasta confusion. Were we Christians or not? We had church services that resembled Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. So I decided I didn’t want a middle man to God I would go directly to the source. I read lots of books on the history of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddha, and Yoruba. I spoke with deeply religious persons and atheists. I could relate and understand both sides to a degree. I still have much to learn but I decided that all religions were pretty much the same. Did not see religion holding woman in an honorable, respectable position but rather saw bible filled passages of misogynist authoritarianism and patriarchal societies. Any religion, group or persons that feels like women are to be subservient and degraded by men was not worthy of my devotion.
I am not interested in converting anyone’s religious or non-religious beliefs. I want people to test their own beliefs, ask questions, and seek out information that will affirm your foundations and faith or maybe cause you to make new ideals. How can you truly believe, or love something that you’ve never investigated? When you start to date someone you ask them a million questions, you ask a friend if they know their background. Question your religion. I believe in something called the “glass slipper theory”. It’s my theory that your faith, your religion is personally fitted onto your soul, your spirit. We should follow our intuition and trust ourselves. What fits someone else won’t always fit you. Personally for me it is hard to follow any religion especially ones that were forced upon my ancestors to “humanize their savage ways”. A man comes into your home and rapes your wife and children. He steals your home and car then tells you to respect him and learn his ways, his religion. To me that doesn’t make any sense. I believe long before slavery became an issue in Africa the religions and way of life that was practiced was authentically their own. I believe that the Christianity practiced in certain parts of Africa centuries ago has now been weakened by man’s constant interpretations. I don’t believe in religion. I believe in a God, a higher power. People ask how I can have faith in someone who I can’t see. But I have seen him in my own way that satisfies me. I have never felt the presence of God in any church building or gathering the way I do when I am at the edge of my sanity, my peace. It is the place where earth meets water, where I stand still and he washes my feet. It is my place of solitude, fortitude and security, my church is the beach. I am comfortable and confident in my spiritual relationship with my God. I do not believe God judges me because I wear pants, pays respect to the moon and nature or that I curse in my prayers( my mother doesn’t agree with my unconscious occasional curse word in prayer). I don’t pray in a monotone, rehearsed manner, I talk freely and openly.
Challenge your preconceived notions about religion, about God, about yourself. Don’t just accept what’s been handed to you regardless of who it comes from. Read something other than the bible. Reason with different opinions and beliefs. Don’t be afraid of not knowing. I know nothing still but in my learning I have gained some knowledge that forces me into action of creating a better self.