Me and My Existential Religious Predicament

2:01 AM

A school paper for Philosophy of Religion submitted last December 20, 2013 in which I got a grade of 95 =D

This reflection paper could not be any more perfect for my current state of mind. Lately, I find myself experiencing deep depression and melancholia. Smiling through depression, I have told my life partner of this predicament (who is a staunch orthodox catholic) and was then told to give all my worries to God in which I replied, “I went to a catholic school all my life, I am aware of when to go to my God, besides God knows already what I am going through and he’s already doing a lot that I am aware I should do my part without bothering Him that much too”. That dance of deflection only furthers my bouts of occasional self-awareness that I have read all the self - help books and studies psychology so I should have better hold of my existential state.

Growing up in a inter religious family – father side are Roman Catholic, mother side are staunch Jehovah’s witnesses but none of my parents practice their religion or any religion at all or imposed it to their children. Although I am a baptized Catholic and does go to mass occasionally, a member like what my father jokingly calls as, KBP (Kasal, Binyag, Patay). As a teenager & enrolled in Notre Dame, it was a responsibility to hear mass every Sunday, every first Friday and in every saints and souls birthdays. As a young woman enrolled in Ateneo, hearing mass wasn’t imposed but years of practice tends to make or break a person – in my case, hearing mass during my younger years has negated the practice & thus my current membership in KBP.

Every time my grandmother drags my cousins to her kingdom hall wearing long skirts and clutching their bible gives me a cold shudder on how little, after all these years, religious congregations has changed. That imposition to follow strict rules and dogmas that restricts freedom of expression as well as freedom of choice or freedom to think and interpret for themselves is very dangerous in my opinion and only breeds contempt with others. I have nothing against those who chose that way but whenever my grandmother demands it from me, I’d apologize for not going and explain that I would rather not sin in the middle of her kingdom hall because I will always have opinions – based on previous interactions – about their interpretations of the words of God.

I think our parents non-religious denomination has also contributed to my self-structured view of life and with my need to self-study everything else that best explains the why’s and the how’s in my mind. I pursued Psychology in an attempt to understand the tragic events that have happened to me in such a young age. Where others would run to religion, I chose new wave studies of the subjective and experiential qualitative investigations of self-help. Where I don’t constantly read the bible, I read everything else that makes me connected to the world and has since become a person with all the answers in my little world. I also study other cultures and living in the Middle East for 7 years has certainly opened my mind to the Islam and the Muslim cultures as well as the cultures of other foreign workers and with that I am thankful. Travelling and exploring other countries has also kept my depressions at bay as I find that learning, especially experiential learning, makes me feel whole and in tune with the world and with myself to everyone and everything else that surrounds me.

At my age, there is that awareness of what kind of a person I am and what kind of life I want and is currently pursuing. I am also of the age where I am aware that the wanting and the process of getting there are two different categories and that help from different factions – family, religion, social environment amongst others are very comforting for an individual.

That I wanted to be a life partner of someone who is very religious, that requires prayers every Tuesdays and novenas every Fridays and that masses every Sundays are a must is a life choice that I am embracing. I may not participate and is able to explain why in all of the practices but I also do not negate the importance of why one must do these things for others and for themselves. To be a good daughter and provider to my family and at the same time be a productive individual and citizen of the world is not as easy as it sounds and that, I am aware. The process to get through and be that kind of a person is a hill climb but I always believe that awareness is the first step of the hard climb.

Despite all that awareness though, there are times where I am conflicted and is enveloped by a sense of malaise. That ambiguity that renders me immobile for days or weeks at a time and causes irrevocable damage to my real tangible world. It’s a constant battle with rainbows and butterflies to cover up the dark binge and that is all I think I can do at the moment. To talk it out with people that surrounds me, to write it to a blog, to force myself to get out of bed and to see friends hoping that I get to be so busy again, I will not have time for all that gloom and doom.
I am very grateful that I am aware of what gives meaning to my life and that should be enough even when sometimes external factors does tend to get me, that sense of “I know what I’m doing and where I’m going from here” helps a great deal. The time for deep searching, questioning and finding meaning to why things happens to me the way that it did has finally came to a halt when I figured out that, there is no way of answering those questions and there is no way that any of the answers if there are, can change any of the situations and how it made me feel, there is no logical explanations to it.

 I believe in God the father almighty but I also believed that God has many names and religions is a striving business. Like any other businesses, they tend to politicalized everything else and that is something I choose not to put myself in. I can, for arguments sakes, fight for a cause or a stand of any particular religion but what is the sense of all that when a good believer must only follow the word of God and that is, I believe, applicable to all religion – the 10 commandments. No matter what religious factions one belongs, if one follows the commandments, I think there will be peace and good will to this world. To exist is to be good to oneself, to others and to the whole world. This may sound very elementary but that is, I find and learned the most basic thing a good human person should do. It is our duty, no matter what happens, we have a choice to be good and that choice is a gift that is given to us by God. Not by religion, but by God who created and sacrificed a lot for human kind.

In all my self-awareness and literal view of the world, I have always practiced one religious thing that my mother, a non-religious entity, has taught me – no matter who or what I believe in, no matter where and what I have become, no matter what the situation I find myself in, I can always talk to God. I don’t have to go to church, chapels, synagogues or mosques to do so. I can talk to God while walking down the street, while going to sleep, while eating, while sitting alone in a bench somewhere. God is always there. God gives respite to the gloomiest of situations and then God will make you do the rest.

I am thankful that I grew up in a world of choice. I was structured in an unstructured way that gave me the opportunity to make my own choices and form my own conclusions and be my own person with the help of experiences and everything else that the world has to offer. That despite the occasional bouts of gloom, it is normal and that it can easily be overcome with a matter of good choices and a lot of prayers everywhere and from everyone. That the quest for growth and learning never really stops, it only enhances the person to desire for more experiences to become proficient of something that they find good in. In my case, I find great pleasure and meaning in volunteer works providing psychosocial support to survivors and getting trainings to be of better help in case of calamities. I find myself to be in the right place and at the right time in doing community work and in all these, I find meaning to my life and to my existence. 

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