Words || Katelyn Free
I didn’t realise that not everyone had decorative buddhas in their houses until I was about 15. It had never occurred to me that it was just a tad unusual for an upper middle white family to have at least one incarnation of buddha per room until I started going over to my deeply religious friends’ houses in high school. That’s when I realised something was a little bit off.
Growing up in Sydney’s Bible Belt, I was baptised, confirmed and attended church throughout my childhood and teenage years. While my parents weren’t necessarily ultra-Christian, both being on their second marriage and only attending church on Christmas and Easter, the rhyme and rhythm of my growing up centred around Christian theology and morals. I attended a private Christian high school and along with all my class mates, got my Friday night kicks at youth group.
But my mum was also deeply interested in astrology and spirituality. She had a dream bible and would put crystals underneath my pillow when I had insomnia as a child. For this reason, I never really wrote off spirituality the same ways my friends at school did. I went to yoga and chanted, then went to youth group and prayed. I was maybe a weird combination in hindsight, but the two never really seemed in conflict. I could believe in a God who sacrificially loved me and hold a crystal when I wanted to manifest a particular thought or feeling. I didn’t believe that the entire energy of the universe existed in that small rose quartz, but I also didn’t believe that God really cared whether I listened to meditation music. He was bigger than that.
When I left school, I had to grow into and wrestle with these conflicted ideas away from the safety of regime and childhood. I deviated from the path a lot of my strictly Christian friends took. I attempted it, but it left me straining and itching to grow and expand.
In order to listen to what I truly felt was right, I couldn’t be the perfect model that religion demanded, but I also didn’t subscribe to a belief in nothingness. I had to craft my understanding of my faith, God and my relationship with him and the spiritual. One that made sense to me. One that wasn’t up for public consumption or scrutiny. One that sat well with my soul and my heart.
I don’t think that faith needs to be comfortable all of the time, but it should feel right. What you believe should feel intrinsically right, otherwise it’s not faith. You need a sense of certainty to have belief. I have certainty in the God that I know. I also have certainty that I have Co-Star downloaded on my phone and I find it interesting to see how horoscopes inform our relationships and understanding of ourselves. I have certainty that God listens when I pray to Him, and I have certainty that using crystals can help me focus my energy on particular thoughts and intentions and allow me a token of security.
I don’t really talk about my faith or religion a lot. Ascribing labels and trying to caveat and explain my beliefs and understanding to other people is not something I’ve ever really been comfortable doing. Not because I’m embarrassed or ashamed of what I believe, but because for me what I believe is deeply personal. It’s a place I’ve crafted for myself out of my upbringing and experiences. It’s a place that I am comfortable sitting in. It’s my house, my home. It’s where I live, where I find joy, where I find conflict, where I wrestle and where I dance.
People can come and visit. Can look around and stay for a while. But they will all leave. I am the only person who has to truly live there. So above all, it must be right for me.
And it is.