I always thought I had the answer, don’t we all think that when we are young? Not having all the facts but still believed what others were believing. When my life was completely changed and my eyes were finally open, I felt the freedom from religion. The interesting thing here is that I didn’t know I was a slave to the religion, until I stepped out and looked at the real world. See, I grew up in a religious home, we always thought that our religion was special, that it was the truth. How did I come to that conclusion? Because I was born in it. I didn’t see any other option because I was indoctrinated into this particular religion. I thought that religion was “the one”, and that was the only way to God. In my house, we never spoke in details about God, besides the comments of Him being in Heaven. Also, we discussed that we are supposed to pray, and we are supposed to read the Bible, but no one really talks about any details and or even know if anybody really does those things at all. It’s a big elephant in the room that nobody realizes it’s there, but it exists. My early teenage years were the worst, I had to be dragged to church every Sunday, it was so painful. There was nothing more I hated in the world than to be dragged to church and at the same time feeling guilty because I knew I was supposed to go but I didn’t feel like it. In this particular religion, at age 14 you become “confirmed” which is the equivalent of having the freedom from your parents, means that your parents are not responsible for your relationship with God anymore. The weekend after I got “confirmed” I stopped going to church. Freedom to choose? I had never experienced that!! I did go to church a few times after getting confirmed, mainly by guilt trips from my parents. I remember sitting in the church chairs and day dreaming. I would try to pay attention, then I would quickly day-dream, that was almost every Sunday that I went to church. It was so boring, like somebody telling a boring story that didn’t have an ending or a point, and having to listen to it for an hour once a week? Sometimes twice (Wednesday services!). I’ve also attended some youth services and gatherings, but I always felt I didn’t fit in. Felt as if they were all talking the same language except me. I quickly stopped going to those gatherings as well. Do I blame that all on the church? not really, I’ve always been very shy, but there was something else I couldn’t pin point. I wanted to be as far away from them as possible, as if they were all perfect, except me. This battle went on until I was 23 years old, at this time I was still living with my parents, and I was offered an opportunity to go work abroad. Needless to say, I gave my “yes” immediately. Did I take the time to think of consequences? Of course not! I was a 23-year-old! I wanted action, something different, and that was going to really fill in that gap, I’m glad I did! Being away from my family helped me to grow distant to the church, I stopped going to church altogether. A few years passed, and I started to feel the need to go to church, since where I lived the church didn’t have a congregation, I asked pastors if I could go to a different religion in the meantime. Obviously, they said no, we will pray for you, I didn’t know any better so I agreed. My need to go to a church was so bad, that I would fall asleep hugging my bible every night, and that brought so much comfort. Did I try reading the bible? Of course, did I understand anything? Absolutely not. It was as if it was a different language. So discouraged, I would just fall asleep with my bible next to me on my bed. There was definitively something special about that book. It took a few years of hearing some preachings on YouTube, but I wasn’t reading the bible yet, I wasn’t ready for discouragement yet! I listened to preachings for hours. Finally, messages that made sense and that was music to my ears. God’s story is beautiful when it’s told directly from the bible. See, I always thought that pastors were the only ones that could translate the bible to our day-to-day language. Boy was I wrong! I kept listening to preachings and learning about God, and stories of the bible. I was so hooked! The information I was learning was so amazing, and on top of that it brought comfort and encouraging, to say the least. The very strange thing to me was that while all this was happening, I wasn’t attending church. Wasn’t church the place you experience God on Sundays? So what’s all this about? God. What I realized is that God isn’t in any building, and doesn’t need religion for rules, He is love, and He doesn’t need us to define him. Then it dawn on me if God created this entire universe, He definitively has more power than me! I can’t even tell the sun when to shine, but He can because he created it. That means that He sees what I can’t and knows what I don’t. So why not listen to Him? The amazing thing to me is that he has given us free will to choose, we can search for Him, or we can freely walk the opposite way. Does He want us to be close to Him and search Him? Of course, He does, but He doesn’t force his love on anyone. Seek and you will find Him and He will fill you with his love and truth. I experienced the miracle, and there’s nothing better in this world than His love, His truth and living a life for Him. The difference between my God and the rest of the gods is that the real God will have a relationship with you, and in many different ways He will speak to you and love you like you’ve never felt loved before. We were designed for His love, and not having it makes us search for that puzzle piece that’s missing. We fill it with many things, such as working, money, addictions, possessions and at the end of the day those things leave us worse than before. Once he fills in that puzzle piece that’s missing in our lives, nothing is ever the same. Do I believe in religion? No. Men should not take the place of God in telling people what to do in the spiritual world. Do I believe in church? Absolutely (outside of religion). It’s a beautiful thing to go to a place and worship God with other people who have found that puzzle piece that was missing. It’s beautiful to live in community with others as family. Do I believe that God is only there on Sundays? No. Sundays should be a day that we all come together, but our day-to-day is what makes us closer to God. It’s like when you meet someone new and you spend a lot of time getting to know each other, learning about our past and present, the same is with God. If we want our relationship with him to grow, we need to put effort and time. We need to talk to Him, as well as wait and listen to Him. This has been my journey with religion, I will never let man tell me who I should follow, or I should believe. I found truth, and for this first time it’s not only in my head, this is real, He’s alive. By no means, I’m saying that all this will bring us a perfect life, but there’s freedom to choose, and religion takes that freedom away. We live in a broken world and we have Adam and Eve to thank! But it gives us the strength and hope that we long for. It gets us closer to our final and true home. So if you are set on your ideas of God, that He doesn’t exist, or that He doesn’t love you, or that this can’t be real, or that your already “know” God, some stranger up in Heaven, which it was what I used to believe. I suggest that with all your heart call out to Him, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you, you’ve got nothing to lose, but so much to gain. Jesus is the only way.