Talking about hugging irrevocably reminds me of the time I was hanging out with my cousins at their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (back when they were members of the religion and I had nothing else to do) and they gave us a class on how to “properly” hug.
If a girl and a guy hugged side to side (shoulder to shoulder) it was acceptable as well and front to front as long as chests didn’t touch and hips remained away. They seemed to think that rubbing hips led to temptation, temptation to fornication (I love that word!!) and fornication to burning hell. I was tempted to let them know that I had rubbed hips and chests many a time while dancing salsa or merengue and had amazingly managed to hold onto my virginity while I was at it, but I was distracted by their rendition of the “acceptable” hug between women where chests and hips were allowed to touch since temptation couldn’t possibly arise between two females (I guess they didn’t consider the thrills lesbians may get from rubbing titties) and as I tried to rebel against the sheer stupidity of spending my Sunday being taught how to hug “properly” I was hit by a case of the giggles so hard I actually think I killed some brain cells from lack of oxygen.
That day was the first day I was first introduced to the depth of feeling and belief when it comes to religion in this country. I am not sure if it is because the freedom of religion diversity (which is a beautiful thing that I am thankful for) makes people believe in their God even harder. I don’t know if it’s that here in the U.S. everything is bigger, louder and stronger.
I mean I was in Catholic school all my life and in Catholic University for two years, I went to obligatory mass every Wednesday, I kneeled and stood, sat down and kneeled again, crossed myself, said Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers, sang halleluiah, and was thankful for God’s sacrificial Lamb (Cordero de Dios!), I went to confession, prayed with a rosary, knelt in front of the Virgin and asked Saint Thomas de Aquino and John Bosco (Patron Saint of Students) for help with Math and Physics class (didn’t work); I lit candles, said “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed” so many times I lost count and yet...
As exposed as I have been to the joys of Christianity and fervent religion I have never seen it the way is practiced here. I am not saying my way is the right way or the way back home is the way it should be. I am just pointing out that after almost eight years of living in this country I still find it surprising when I see people (young people too) bowing their heads in prayer in restaurants, in public! (They wouldn’t have survived a day in high school back at home).
I am always amazed at how open people are about it, my believes and my relationship with the higher power is such a private one that I cannot picture doing that unless I have to because I am having dinner with the in-lawns and even then I keep a roaming eye open to see who’s looking at me pray (childish I know).
It’s very hard for me because, despite my upbringing and to the despair of my very Catholic mother, I am on the other side of things, I am not religious, I do not practice, I do not appreciate it when strangers knock on my door wanting to talk to me about Jesus neither do I appreciate it when I receive condemning looks from strangers when I say I don’t go to church. I never had to defend my believes before because back home you believed in whomever you wanted to believe, prayed to whichever God you wanted to pray to and fucked whoever you wanted to fuck without anyone giving a damn.
Here is different because they believe so firmly that they feel the need to recruit you and I feel the need to not be recruited! The more I am confronted with Christian beliefs, the more I am pressured, the more I am asked about my “relationship with Jesus” the more I am pushed away from everything I was raised to believe.
My relationship with the higher power was based on camaraderie, trust, long one sided conversations at night with me talking to the ceiling and a lot of thanking for everything good in my life. The Christians I have met here believe that if you do not believe in Christ you go to the fiery pits of hell and that alone is enough to scare the believing out of me. The more they quote the bible, the less I believe.
My mom taught me that God was a loving forgiving someone who was happy with you leading a life of good and that it was enough just being good to go to Heaven. The God here is different from the one I grew up believing in and the differences have pushed me to the brink of non-believing *stare up guiltily waiting for lightning to smite me*
My life has been so chaotic these past eight years that I can’t help but doubt and question what’s out there. Question what I believed in. Question the logic of believing in a book that was written by sheep keeper. Question the fact that a loving God won’t condemn you to hell regardless of how just a life you lead.
My mom would say that all my blessings, in spite of the chaos, prove that Jesus loves me and believes in me, even if I sometimes don’t believe in him or love him back.