I'm not a fan of religion. At all. I've touched on this briefly before, and don't want to delve in to why. The arguments are numerous and painful for multiple reasons. So for now, let's all accept that I don't like religion and never wish to have it as a part of my life. I'm happier for it.
I'm fortunate to be on a campus surrounded by people who understand this, even if they don't agree. I've never been attacked or ridiculed for it (I should probably say yet, but I like to be an optimist).
Those that don't agree with me (my family included) often cite the ways that religion has helped people, including themselves. It's given them a purpose, a reason to try to be a better person. The hopeful, optimistic message gives them a better outlook on life than they believe they could have without religion.
I understand that. I do. But probably the hardest part about turning away from my religion has been feeling like I turned away from a friend: Jesus.
I really did feel like Jesus understood life. He understood me. He wasn't judgmental, he wasn't hateful. He didn't hate gay people, or black people, or feminists. He didn't hate women for getting abortions. He didn't hate Obama.
In fact, I believe that Jesus loves me for what I believe. He loves me for trying to be a good person, and for staying true to myself. He loves my sense of humor. He loves my sometimes bizarre passion for capitalism. He loves how much I love my cat.
I've lost my faith, and I feel happier for it. My life is simpler, and freer. It is up to me to make a purpose for myself. I'm not held down to meaningless doctrines, I don't have to reconcile my love of humanity with the hate of those higher up.
I haven't lost my faith in Jesus, though, because honestly, Jesus had nothing to do with Christianity to me. Jesus, in my mind, in the faith I practiced all those years (which arguably, despite what even I thought, was not Catholicism), Jesus was someone that we all strived to be. Jesus was the good guy. He was full of love, compassion, and forgiveness. He was the person I want to be.
I don't know who Jesus really was. Son of god? Mary Magdalene's lover? A hypocrite? I don't know, and frankly, it's not important. Jesus is whoever I want him to be. I could probably name him whatever, base him off of any historical figure (Abe Lincoln? Einstein?). I think I chose Jesus because he's already accepted as a pacifist and all around cool dude. There's enough mystery around him that there are no facts. It gives me a good base to mold him into whatever I want, and force myself into believing I'm right. Anything anyone else says just further proves their delusion.
It's comforting to think that someone, somewhere, really was a genuinely good person. There's no little known facts about him embezzling money, or secretly being a racist. He's untouched, and he's lovely. That, more than anything religion has taught or will teach, gives me hope.