I grew up Christian.
Well, not really Christian-Christian; more like Santa-Christian. We never went to church as a family, I didn't grow up hearing the stories of the Bible. My understanding was that Santa gave us gifts on Jesus's birthday and the Easter bunny freaked me out but I liked jellybeans, so that leveled it out.
As I came into my teenage years, I chose to go to church on my own and really wanted to find my faith. I tried talking to my mother about it but she didn't want to get into it, saying she didn't want to ruin Christmas.
I get it- the holidays became more about building memories with family than anything spiritual, and that's fine, but I'm curious.
After trying several different churches and sects of Christianity, I'm still searching.
Recently, I was introduced to Islam.
Before now, I knew very, very little about it. I still don't know that much. I'm reading the Qur'an partly out of academic curiosity and partly to see if it can fill the void I feel.
So far, I really like it. I'm not talking about Sharia law or the way predominantly-Islamic countries are run; I'm just talking about the Book itself and my own interpretation. It preaches charity and non-violence, although you do have the right to self-defense. It recognizes Abraham, Moses, and all the prophets of the Old and New Testament, saying that Islam is the descendant of both. It recognizes Jesus as someone "strengthened by the holy spirit" and refers to sections of the Bible.
All I know right now is that I am glad to be learning about it, even if it only helps me to understand others and where they're coming from. It amazes me that something so close to Christianity and Judaism is represented as totally foreign here. I talked to my dad about it earlier and his first question (after he figured out Muslims aren't Buddhist) was, "Wait, weren't the terrorists Muslims?" And I had to explain it like, "Dad, the terrorists are to Islam as the Westboro Church is to Christianity. They don't represent the whole; some people are just off the deep end."
At the end of the day, I want to make up my own mind about it and not rely on others to interpret it for me; I want to think and feel based on my own impression. I'm going to put up a little bit of something every Sunday I think, whether it's the Qur'an or the Bible or a Charlie Sheen quote, whatever has me thinking about faith. I apologize ahead of time since I know it's not everyone's cup of tea (ahem...husband) but I just want to keep growing and thinking and trying to be better and I need to think it out.
As the late, great Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Do what in your heart you believe to be right. You'll be criticized anyway."