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Why I Believe in God: A Personal Journey

Having engaged in an enlightening and entertaining discussion of wandererh's hub Why Do Unbelievers Always Want Proof? I thought that it would be beneficial to those involved if I made a statement of faith and told of my own, personal journey.

But first I want to clearly state that it is unusual for me to share so openly about my personal self in what I consider to be an informative medium. While I do tend to editorialize, I do not wish to lose your interest by being too self-focused. I hope that those reading this message will take something away from it, whatever that may be. I also welcome intelligent discourse on the subject.


Catholic Beginnings

I began my life as a Catholic. This was based on a promise that my father had made to a priest (the one who performed my parents' wedding). My parents for their part, aren't particularly faith-filled people. They are what I would consider "religious" rather than "spiritual." My father in particular seems to enjoy pressing his religious preferences upon anyone who will listen, and is intent in disagreeing with anyone who doesn't agree with Pope Pius (my father is very behind the times). Arguments with him are futile and often become aggressive. He will not hear another perspective and refuses to educate himself about the current standing of the Catholic church.

Furthermore, my father repeatedly used God to threaten his children into behaving. Ultimately we learned to tune him out, and both of us strayed from the Catholic faith uncommonly early in our lives. We were taught, at home and in school (for we attended a Catholic school) that God was eager to punish us for our wrongdoings, and that we must make regular confessions to a priest in order to be spared the agony of hell. We, as Catholic children, were taught that we had been baptized as babies and therefore had a choice in our sin. If we "chose" to sin we would suffer an eternity in hell and there was no redemption except through confession to a priest.

We were subjected to Catholic school. While I know many students who successfully graduated from a Catholic grade school or high school without serious emotional ramifications, I did not. We went to he kind of Catholic school which, in the mid 1980s, was still using physical punishment. Verbal and emotional abuse from teachers was common, and our freedoms were constantly undermined. We were not to question the Pope. The Pope was the authority on God and Christ. Nevermind that "the" authority changed every time a Pope died. We were not to question.

I began to question when I was twelve years old, during a religion class. The teacher had been teaching about how God punished those who broke His commandments, and how He was eager to have justice. I couldn't wrap my head around it. God was a loving God, was He not? Hadn't I learned that somewhere? Why the contradiction?

We kept journals in my religion class in grade school, and one of my classmates wrote an entry that made me question the concept of hell. She wrote that God loves everyone, including people like Hitler and Ted Bundy. It really got me to thinking. If God loves us all so very much, how could He banish us to hell for an eternity? It just didn't make sense.

Even before my sentence in Catholic school was over and I was transferred to a public institution much better suited to me (personally), I had taken the first several steps to converting to Wicca. A friend's sister had books on satanism and Wicca and I became incredibly interested. As a seeker, the Wiccan religion made a great deal of sense to me. Thus began my "true" journey.

The Pagan Season

By the time I graduated from Catholic grade school, I was a practicing pagan. I cannot say that I was wiccan because I never did believe in many of their teachings, and some of it was downright confusing. For those who don't know or understand what I mean, let me iterate:

I believed in multiple gods. In particular I tended to honor the Egyptian pantheon, particularly Isis up to the end, when I was experimenting with calling upon Sekmet.

I believed (and believe) that magick is a very real thing in the world and that the powers of nature and the Universe could be called down in order to achieve certain goals and/or desires for oneself.

I believed that there was no real line between good and evil and that everything was just a gray area.

I believed that there was no Truth, just truth, and that each individual had to find his or her own path.

I was a practicing pagan for a long time, right up until the time that I met my (Christian) husband. For about a year two friends and I struggled to convert him to paganism. We all felt that our home and family life would be more peaceful if we accomplished this particular goal. But he couldn't make sense of what we said, and he couldn't relate to it on a personal level. I became frustrated, and our lives became less and less peaceful together.

I stopped practicing my religion, and I began to spend more and more time in prayer (to the Goddess, and often specifically Sekmet, the Goddess of war and vengeance). I wasn't happy, but I felt that I was right, and in those days, being right was the most important thing in the world. I made almost everyone feel good about their religious choices, except, generally speaking, Christians and Muslims, who fought me tooth and nail and explained that I was worshipping demons. I laughed at them throughout those sixteen years of my life.

I made many people feel good about their choices, and I hurt a lot of feelings and discouraged many a true believer. It saddens me now.

What Not to Say to an Unbeliever

I could very well use another entire hub in order to cover this topic, and the truth is that ultimately I intend to write a book on the subject of how to approach unbelievers when you wish to spread the word about Jesus Christ. But for the moment, I feel that I can place sufficient information in here to see my readers through.

My husband and I went through an incredibly difficult season in our lives. We were living in an apartment where the landlord refused to do any work on our home even when the electricity turned off every time we turned on the stove. We were stressed to the gills and we weren't getting along very well. We even separated for several days while a decision was made as to whether or not to move forward with our marriage.

I had been "sitting on the fence" for a while spiritually. I still had full faith in God, but I questioned why so many horrible things were happening in our lives. My prayers to the Goddess I honored were going unanswered, and I was frustrated with the God of Abraham because my husband had taught me some things that confused me and made me angry. I was out in the cold and frustrated when a neighbor invited me to their church.

I wasn't comfortable, but they compelled me to go, and so I toddled off with them to a breakfast and then a movie at the church. Throughout the experience, I was treated like a child, alternately cajoled, scolded and gently chided. At one point one of their members got so close to my face that she was spitting directly into my eyes as she screamed on and on about how she was the bridegroom of Christ. This incident was not just intimidating -- it was downright scary!

The pastor himself was a bit better, though he went on and on about how I worshipped demons and needed to publicly confess my sin before the entire congregation so that I could be healed. I was embarrassed, I was humiliated, and my feelings were hurt. I had gone into the experience considering myself a true seeker of God, and came out of it more determined than ever that I would never be a Christian.

It Gets into Your Head

In the meantime, there were Christians all around me. As an unbeliever, I felt as though I was surrounded by them, all of them shoving Bibles and Watchtower magazines in my face. I felt threatened and I felt annoyed by them. Every now and again, when waiting for a particularly late bus, I would pick up a discarded magazine and begin to read it. Though I was never destined to become a Jehovah's Witness, those magazines got into my head. Bit by bit, I was able to make sense of what others believed, and why.

Nevertheless, I stood firm in my belief that it was a Goddess, and not a god, who ruled the world. What could God possibly do for me? I had been taught growing up that He was a vengeful God, a wrathful God, not a loving God. I was frightened of God. I feared Him more than I feared hell! Furthermore, I feared those Christians I had met, the church I had encountered.

But somewhere along the line, the Christian teachings had begun to seep into my subconscious. As someone interested in anthropology I began to seek out books about the Amish and Mennonite ways of life, began to explore more deeply what their religious ideals were. I devoured everything I could readily get my hands on. I read fiction and non-fiction, some books I read more than once.

It wasn't the way of life that got into me. It was the way they believed that struck a chord deep within me. The beliefs of the people in these books were so pure, so deeply ingrained, and for me, so beautiful that I realized that I had long since stopped believing except in the most superficial way. I needed something different. I needed a serious change.

Then a Miracle Became Personal

I wasn't a Christian yet when I had my first obvious miracle as an adult (there was an incident in childhood that I repeatedly overlook). I won't tell the entire story here, because it would make a very lengthy separate hub in and of itself, but God provided me with a child who was never meant to be. She could have (and perhaps should have) died several times during my pregnancy and during her birth. The fact that she was born alive is, in and of itself, a miracle.

I had an unattended pregnancy with my daughter, and her birth was accomplished with minimal medical interventions. I credit God entirely with her life.

There have been other miracles since then, some big and some small. I try to always be looking out for God's presence in my life, and I find that if you are looking for it, you will find it. It is much the same as a scientific unbeliever looking to science for answers: I simply look to God. I believe that it takes more faith to not believe in God than it does to believe in Him!

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paintphd from Manchester Tennessee on March 22, 2012:

I wonder if we ever really wrap our minds around what we truly believe when it come to matters of faith. Like yours, my ideas has evolved over the years. I've been back and forth between athiesism and all out belief to luke warm. I've struggled to make scientific sense out of religion. The first obstical to overcome is the biblical 5-6 thousand year world history and the archeaological timeline of several million years. Still...as of now I've settled on a divine guidance of evolution...whatever that means:-)

Richard Kent Matthews from Portland, OR Metro Area on April 15, 2009:

Well said. And with that, I bow out.

einron from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA on April 15, 2009:

Everyday Miracles

Thank God you have landed into a very nice spot. It is God who chooses us and it is us who response with faith and truth.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 15, 2009:

The same essential truths apply, Richard. The difference is in the details. We have each had to choose the path that we feel is THE path. I tend to be of the mind that that is what faith is all about, isn't it?

Richard Kent Matthews from Portland, OR Metro Area on April 15, 2009:

What if your faith is in Krishna?

Elynjo from Sin City on April 15, 2009:

This is a great hub with a moral lesson. The three great virtues are Faith, Hope and Charity. When you have Faith residing within you, I know for a fact that hope and charity exist in your life as well. :-)

Richard Kent Matthews from Portland, OR Metro Area on April 15, 2009:

I understand. Have a great life.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 15, 2009:

I still believe that you are wrong from a religious perspective but I don't have the energy to argue the point. There has been a lot of stress around home in the last few days.

However, I do find it surprising that anyone who believes in evolution can possibly believe that it is even possible without incest occurring. In order for a genetic trait to be carried through, two individuals who possess the same trait must mate and pass that trait on to their offspring. This is what we call a "defect" or a "mutation."

I came to where I am through a very specific set of circumstances that are almost impossible for me to define. I have moments of incredibly high stress, but I have in fact never been happier and have no intention of changing my belief structure.

That being said, I also find apologetics exhausting and haven't been a Christian nearly long enough to be fully versed in them. I would prefer not to come at you with "seminar responses" that I have obtained from other Christians or websites. I would prefer to think for myself and evaluate for myself. Just at the moment, that is very difficult due to high stress.

Richard Kent Matthews from Portland, OR Metro Area on April 15, 2009:

According to most authorities, mental retardation and genetic defects double in cases of births due to incest. The weakest genes in each family are enhanced when close family members mate. There are many online sites that argue about all this, but the majority of medical experts warn against incest due to the likelihood of fetal damage. Imagine, then, many generations of inbreeding and the outcome. Hey, wait... Now that I look at our species, you may have a point. This could all be the result of 6,000 years of inbreeding. In such a case, the creator couldn't possibly hold it against us. Once again, God's fault. Sorry.

Facetious perhaps, but I hope I made the point. If creation is only that old, we wouldn't have had a long enough time to eliminate all the consequences of inbreeding.

Consider this: humans are still animals, in that the survival mechanism is extremely powerful. Add a thinking self aware brain to that and you get what you see now. A greedy, conniving, selfish species that can and will do whatever it takes to advance its own agenda. I don't have to support that with evidence. Just look around. We are half way between animal and angel. We have to CHOOSE to rise above the animal. Nothing will force us to do so. It's a strange place to be, this human mind. We have to be selfish, yet we know that cooperation works best. What to do?

Sounds like original sin, doesn't it? But it puts us in a place of immense opportunity. Getting the world to see that opportunity is what my particular faith, New Thought, is mostly about. Yes, we are also selfish. We know that. But it is not an excuse. Since we are creations of the Most High, we are inherently good. We carry the 'genes' of God, if you will. Evil is just our natural animal inclination toward selfishness and it can be overcome but only by choice. Nothing on the so-called outside of us can do it for us. We are responsible. We alone will destroy the world, or we will save it. Heaven and hell, then, are states of mind. (A little preachy, but fun!)

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 14, 2009:

Okay, challenging you here:

HOW would incest create genetic anomalies?

Richard Kent Matthews from Portland, OR Metro Area on April 14, 2009:

Incest would not be harmful if it were an evolutionary process. However, in keeping with scripture, God placed the man and woman in the Garden as fully formed humans, not evolved apes. Therefore, incest would, from the outset, produce some strange anomalies in our species. We may not have made it.

What you mention about interpretation is the key. According to some scholars, by the time Cain "knew" his wife, humanity had already spread over much of the earth. It's also important to remember that the various names in the Bible all have translations. If you take the meanings of the names and insert them into the places where names are used, you come up with some very interesting changes. Get yourself a Greek/Hebrew/English dictionary and look up some of the meanings of names, then fit them into the story you are reading at any given time. You'll be amazed at the insights. Biblical names are instructive. They were not handed out lightly.

One last little detail for you to ponder: The word Lucifer as used in the Book of Isaiah is a Latin word, not Hebrew. And the Book of Isaiah was written centuries before the creation of the Latin language. It is presumed by scholars that Christian interpreters and translators inserted the word in order to make the reading more acceptable to Christians. How's that for staying true to the Word?

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 14, 2009:

I wanted to clarify an issue with regard to slavery in my above comment: I don't believe that slavery is a necessary force in our modern society and I also am far from believing that people of a certain race or color should be made to be slaves. I do, however, recognize that slavery is a fact of life and it is still going on in our modern times.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 14, 2009:

First: There is the potential for error in human interpretation. I have known for the past year that my unique past gives me a different perspective on what I am reading than another person might have.

And before I continue, I should state clearly that one can believe that the Bible is the literal word of God and still "interpret" what they read. We all do it. No matter how plainly something is stated we might perceive a tone or read something into a statement that isn't what was originally intended. It's the nature of the (human) beast.

Second: Equal, but entirely different from one another. We were created for different purposes and we compliment one another perfectly if men and women are in harmony with their Creator. Or at least that's how it works in my home. And yes, I am a deeply submissive wife to my husband.

Third: Yes, absolutely. I didn't say that I was anti-slavery. It still exists (in some very abhorrant ways!). I'm not sure that the Bible intends to necessarily condone slavery but it is a fact of human existance and I believe that God's instructions with regard to this were meant to ensure peace for His people. Obedience insures peace.

Fourth: Yes, I understand that and I agree with it. But I have not seen in the Bible where God says I have to *like* the current government, just that I have to obey it (unless I am forced to disobey God's law, in which case I will be protected).

Fifth: I disagree 100%. God is love. Christ preached love to His people. It doesn't matter what our sin is, we can be saved through His grace. If homosexual *behavior* is a sin, then God can forgive that as He can forgive any sin. The state of being homosexual isn't spoken about in the Bible as far as what I have read.

Sixth: Please do explain to me how incest would have been harmful in the early days of human existance? Even in order for evolution to work the way it is taught incest would have been necessary!

If you can explain it to me accurately and in a way that is entirely plausible, I will do more research on the subject. Otherwise, expect a debate ;)

Richard Kent Matthews from Portland, OR Metro Area on April 14, 2009:

Everyday Miracles:

Your final statement about political questions in intriguing. Since the doctrines of contemporary evangelical Christianity are spilling over into the political arena, it does indeed present a challenge to those of us who are still determined to keep religion out of government. But I digress...

First, for nearly the entire history of Christianity, 'dominion over the earth' was not taken as caring for the earth, but dominating it. It was ours to desecrate, to destroy, to damage as we pleased. Ask any 14th century priest, cardinal, or king.

Second, you don't honestly believe that women have an equal place in the world with men, do you?

Third, shouldn't slaves obey their masters?

Fourth, if you dissent politically and disagree with your government, you are in violation of God's decrees. But you know that, right? : - )

Fifth, as a pagan you probably weren't homophobic. As a Christian, that may have changed.

Sixth, your responses to Confussed about Adam, Eve, Cain and such were interesting. I know how difficult that whole story can be to interpret. However, incest has never been healthy and was never condoned in scripture. (It did happen, but only as a last resort. Perhaps our insanity as a species can be traced back to that?) There are other more involved and sometimes ridiculous interpretations of that story. Also, remember that before Eve was taken out of Adam, the Bible says earlier that God created them male and female, suggesting that the Eve story may have been added later. God originally created male and female as equals. Male writers ultimately changed all that.

Finally, in the third chapter of Genesis, we find God agreeing with the serpent who said the couple would become like God. He says in essence, behold the man has become like us...

The only point I'm actually trying to make is, all of the above comes from too much literal reading of the Bible. If you take it literally, you are not free to choose your interpretation. And then, you run into what's usually called "denominations." That's where all the trouble really begins.

Much love to you...

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 14, 2009:

I believe that the God of the Old and New Testaments is the same God, Richard. Truthfully, I see His mercy throughout the Old Testament. He chose Noah to continue the human presence on Earth and He made the covanent with Noah that He would never again send a great flood to destroy the earth. He blessed those who followed Him and who obeyed His commandments, just as He still does.

Christ was sent to us as a way to cleanse us of our sins. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people sacrficed animals in accordance with Levitical law. Jesus was the final sacrifice required to be made. The blood of the sacrificial lamb (Jesus) has covered the sins of the people for whom He was sacrificed. But you know all of this ;)

I believe that God has always wanted what was best for His creation. He is omniscient and He knows every possible outcome from any given situation. He knew that His creation would fall into sin, and He knows how things will end. He's given us the opportunity to choose to do as He wishes us to do or not. Our choice.

I do take the entire Bible literally. But I am not sure that answers the underlying question. Do I believe that we need to have a respect for our surroundings and for the earth? Yes, but not as a deity. I never did believe that the earth itself was a deity. Egyptian mythology is quite different in that respect than modern Wicca (and I was not wiccan).

In the Garden, God gave dominion over the Earth to Adam. I believe that Adam (and his descendents -- us) was meant to care for the earth, the animals and the growing things of the Earth. As we know from the Bible, man chose to give dominion over the Earth to Satan, who is now the ruler of our world.

I *personally* don't think that this gives us an excuse to completely disregard the creation of our God. Everything He has given us is a gift -- I don't believe that we should disregard it.

That being said, I believe that this is a matter of philosophy rather than theology ;)

As far as "preparing for the last days" I feel that all Christians (and all people) throughout time should have been preparing for the last days. Christ said that the end times were coming "soon." We aren't in God's time and we don't know when "soon" is. The signs of end times have been there since immediatley following Christ's ascension 2000 years ago. I believe that we should all always be prepared.

If you're asking a political question, that's an entirely different matter ;)

Richard Kent Matthews from Portland, OR Metro Area on April 14, 2009:


A few questions. As a Christian, how to you reconcile the mean spirited deity of the Old Testament with the loving father of the New? Are they the same? Which one wants the best for its creation? And now that you have stepped out of paganism, which advances a true respect for the planet, and into Christianity, which sees all of creation as fallen and in need of redemption, do you take the entire Bible literally? Are you preparing for The Last Days? Just wondering...

Debra Allen from West By God on April 13, 2009:

I know.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 13, 2009:

Thank you Lady Guenevere! Once you have God it's hard not to talk about Him! Usually I keep it to my blog though!

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 13, 2009:

Eventually I will post the whole thing. Whenever I try it just gets so *long*. I can't believe everything we went through to have her here and yet I would do it all again in an instant! Thank you!

Debra Allen from West By God on April 13, 2009:

Thank you for sharing your story and the great comments that you have here. It isn't often that you get so many good ones....that is a miracle in itself. Keep telling your story.

BDazzler from Gulf Coast, USA on April 13, 2009:

Everyday, that's an AWESOME testimony!

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 13, 2009:

And see, wandererh, you are exactly right. That is why this discussion gets so frustrating. I believe that Christ is the way to salvation. However, I also find the entire concept of hell incredibly difficult!

David Lim from Singapore on April 13, 2009:

See, I told you you can do it. At the rate you are going, your book will be finished in no time. :)

Thank you are sharing your story.

I had the same thoughts about a loving God as you when I was younger. I reasoned that since God created me with compassion, he himself must have compassion, infinite compassion. I know that even with the limited compassion that I have, I cannot stand to send someone to hell forever. Much as he abhors sins, I just can't see God, with his infinite compassion, doing that same thing.

Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 13, 2009:

badcompany99, a friend once told me that she couldn't be a Christian (or believe in God) because she didn't want to read the Bible and go to church. I was completely flummoxed by her point of view. We don't go to church most weekends for various reasons (can't agree on a church, baby's sick or teething, etc) and for the longest time I couldn't find the time to sit down with my Bible every day (I'm getting there though!).

I believe that the faith comes first and foremost. I do believe that faith without works is dead, but nevertheless, I think that we can become too obsessed with the trappings and lose sight of what is really important.

BDazzler, I couldn't agree with you more. One thing that occurred to me is that I was in my darkest hour. A doctor had tried to force me to abort my pregnancy, and then my daughter tried to come early. Three times. When she finally did arrive it was in serious distress, meconium in the waters, and we also realized that her cord was wrapped around her neck three times. She was a meager 5 lbs 14 oz due to the fact that her umbilical cord had two enormous knots in it. We are very, very blessed to have been given the opportunity to parent this little miracle!

BDazzler from Gulf Coast, USA on April 13, 2009:

One of my favorite things about God is His desire to do Awesome things for us, even when we don't want him to, or believe in Him. Fantastic Hub!

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