For the last few months, I must admit that I have felt very disconnected from God. I am usually a spiritually motivated individual who is the one on Facebook posting the religious quotes. But lately, I have had questions about my faith, peace, and the Bible. You see, my father who was a Baptist minister turned semi-atheist before he fell terminally ill in 1993. I think he was disappointed in himself to some extent and in the hand, life dealt him. He decided to question God’s existence, instead, because his plans for his family’s future never worked out.
He would begin sentences with, “If there was a God, then why…”. But I never stopped believing. I sort of ignored his talk about the non-existence of Christ and I was only a child then. But recently, I have been feeling so lost that even the Bible makes no sense to me. I have had little peace as well. When life has been so difficult that you have lost your peace of mind, something has to change. So I went on a journey to ease my spirit.
I will never disapprove of or hate on how anyone chooses to practice religion. I think religion, like most intimate issues, is a personal choice. During this time in my life, I had walked away from my the church I called home for almost nine years. My wonderful Pastor stepped down and a new Pastor came in.
On his first Sunday preaching at our church, he didn’t sit well with me. In addition, he brought his congregation with him which left no room for us few remaining loyal parishioners to have any say as to how OUR church was run. I’m one of those people who if you rub the wrong way, I completely dismiss you. But believe me that is nearly impossible to do but he managed it well.
Anyway, I spent my Sundays wherever my daughter and the University of Alabama Afro American Gospel Choir traveled within city limits. She was a second Soprano/Alto and member of the UA’s HIP (His Instruments of Praise) praise team. After she left for Hawaii to be with her new husband, and my son moved into the dorm, I took a huge break from life in general. Both my children who had been my life were gone out into the world without me. God was still blessing me but all I saw was what I felt…loss.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. It’s now 3 1/2 years later. I’ve been without a church home the entire time. I felt distant from God’s presence before, but never like this. I believe I explained it best in another blog by saying, it feels as if I’m at a concert in the midst of hundreds of screaming fans and I’m trying to get the singer’s attention. But I can’t get close enough for them to hear me. I feel like I can’t even touch the hem of His garment right now. So because even my praying seems to fall short, I decided to try another way to reach God.
I have a friend who is deep in the Muslim faith. She along with a Buddhist instructor gently guided me into the practice of Nichiren Buddhism chanting. I researched the culture and history of Buddhism but I couldn’t help hearing the voices of many Pastors, including my dad, saying, we do not worship objects. Still, my search for inner peace had me curious enough to continue. In the movie ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ Angela Basset and Lawrence Fishburne portrayed the iconic Ike and Tina Turner. In Tina’s quest to take back her peace she began practicing the Buddhist chanting Nam Myoko Renge Kyo.
The first night of my chanting, I focused on sleep because I was suffering from insomnia for a few nights. During the chanting, I fell asleep. I didn’t make it the recommended five minutes. I was encouraged. But the more I read and learned about chanting, the further I felt from God. Let me explain. I wanted to focus on getting closer to God, but I wasn’t chanting to Him. Buddhist chant to a blessed scroll called the Gohonzon. They chant for the things they want, need or desire in their life.
Although I was told I could practice my faith and chant as well, the Bible teaches to worship only to God and not objects. I wasn’t comfortable because I have used prayer my entire life and watched God work. I felt like to pray to God and then chant or pray to the Gohonzon was not fully placing my faith in God’s ability to work in my life. My spirit wouldn’t allow my mind to continue to practice Nichiren Buddhism. To be completely honest, and this may not be right, but I felt like I was cheating God. I felt guilty.
At heart, I’m simply the daughter of a Baptist minister and a member of the Church of God in Christ. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn about Nichiren Buddhism and see how it works for others. Through my journey to find peace with Nichiren Buddhism, I rediscovered my love for Christ and found the peace for which I was searching. I know, personally, that I am on the right path for me.
God knows my heart and even brought our previous Pastor back into our lives. We now have family prayer every night. So for me, I’ve chosen to discontinue chanting. Instead, I am continuing to pray, praise and worship to strengthen my faith and move closer to God. I do, however, still have questions concerning the Bible. I plan to get my hands on an original copy before translations and in the meantime ask God for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of His Word.
It never hurts to try to find peace or happiness by adding to the way you worship. But if what you choose to do, doesn’t sit well within your spirit, it probably just isn’t meant for you. I think it is necessary to believe in something greater than yourself. Discover for yourself how and why are we are here on Earth. What is next for us? Whether you believe in the universe, Buddha, Allah, Jesus, God, or whomever, follow your faith to answer your questions.
I’ll never tell someone their faith is wrong UNLESS your faith tells you to hate or look down upon another faith or others. Life is hard. We need to be spiritually sound to survive. I know from experience that I would rather live my life believing and worshipping God, die and find out He doesn’t exist; than to live my life not believing/worshiping, die and find out He does. What do you think? Do you believe in God?