I have shared recently about my religion, Eastern Orthodoxy, and some of the beliefs of the church. I have purposefully spoken in general terms because I have tried to share the teachings that I grew up with.
As with all things in life, we adapt and grow with age. Religion is no different and many of us find that the beliefs of our childhood aren’t always the faith we hold onto as adults. I grew up as the son of a priest and attended church close to seven times weekly, and that wasn’t even including during Lent. It is needless to say that much of my upbringing caused most of my burnout on religion. The stringent life of a practicing Orthodox Christian in America definitely helped drive me to search for other faiths.
When I entered college in the year of 2000 I split my majors. One of my majors was religious studies and I used my newfound freedom and accessibility to other beliefs to broaden my own understanding of the world and the different religions in it. It was after actively seeking for a different answer that I found the answer. Orthodoxy was the only faith I would ever actively follow.
I am thirty-five now and have seen a little more of the world. I have seen what a hard-line stance looks like and I have also marveled at the overly liberal nature some humans take towards faith. A middle ground exists and that is what I now walk. By knowing my faith, I know myself.
I will always be an Orthodox Christian even if I don’t actively practice the faith. I also believe that people from any faith can enter heaven because I believe that the basis of a “good faith” are commonalities found in many different religions. That is because many different practices speak the same truth even if they name their god a different name. I recognize the elephant in the room and understand we may all be touching the same animal. That is the nature of perspective and living a singular life.
This weekend I attended a Catholic church for mass for the first time. My wife has wanted to attend church and the closest Orthodox Church is forty-five minutes away. She asked me if I would go to a non-denominational and I gave her a flat out “no.” I told her I would meet her in the middle and we could attend one of the numerous Catholic churches around our area, but I would not go to a non-denominational church or any protestant based religion. It has everything to do with my upbringing and the traditional faith I was brought up in. Some practices simply don’t feel like worshiping to me and that is the honest truth.
The old me wouldn’t have ever entered a Catholic church. The younger me would have sneered at myself in disdain and muttered “traitor.” That was the old me.
The older me, now, understands that we seek comfort where we can find it. I also understand that it isn’t always about me and I have a family to consider. So I put aside my pride this weekend and attended a church I never thought I would. Even though I have no desire to convert, it was different and an experience in itself. The good part is I felt God there.
At least he could truly be found in many places.
Jason C. Cushman