on God & other things.

I lost my faith when God went from being portrayed as loving and endearing, to a judgmental being shaking his head at all of us from up in the sky. I was attending a private, very strict Baptist Christian school where skirts needed to be midi-length and young girls who even thought to mutter a word to someone of the opposite sex were swiftly warned of the perils of bearing the label “fast tailed.” Even at 12 I knew I didn’t want to be meek or docile, and my free-thinking heart would never allow me to be. So at 13 I decided that if my inquisitive nature wasn’t good enough for God, I’d stop wasting time trying to appease him and hope for the best on judgment day.

“Good” is subjective.

I created my own set of rules and my “religion” would be rooted in honesty and good intentions. I’d jump at the opportunity to let people know my brand of spirituality and how it differed from that of organized practices. How I didn’t need church to be a good person and I didn’t subscribe to the fear mongering in the Book of Revelations. I praised myself on putting good energy into the Universe and developed a strong belief in karma. As long as I treated people with respect and kindness, I’d never have to worry about life dealing me difficult cards. I practiced good behavior in hopes of access into heaven and trusted karma to deal with my transgressors. I thought out all of these things and, somehow, failed to realize what this belief system made of me.

Karma is not your vigilante.

When I got cheated on I wanted all parties involved condemned to life of unhappiness. That’s a bit aggressive, I know, but I didn’t understand how karma could dish out anything less for people who had wronged me. Consumed with bitterness, I anxiously awaited for karma to avenge me. News of past lovers and former friends experiencing misfortunes gave me comfort. The drawing of connections in places where they didn’t belong brought my vengeful, borderline sinister heart great joy. I thought this is what karma was for and at no point did I stop to consider how this desire to watch people crumble inadvertently disrupted that of my own. Or how it completely diluted any “religion” I had based on being a good person. Not only was I not a good person, I was morphing into something much worse than anyone who ever hurt me.

You cannot ask God for peace and understanding, and then ask karma for vengeance.

God came back into my life when I got tired of trying to make sense of things on my own. Even when I didn’t know how to or had no idea what I was praying for, it became a source of peace for me. I am still very much a believer in karma and choosing a spiritual ground that you are most comfortable in, but my personal experiences have completely reshaped my faith. I’ve learned that karma is not a means to gain front row access to the pain of those who have harmed you. That regardless of the severity of the offense, karma is not restitution. My faith in karma left no room for forgiveness, and bred jealousy fueled bitterness. Neither of which are of God. Once I stopped being good for leverage and relishing in the setbacks of others, I opened myself up to receiving the blessings intended for me.

-Rif