You Need More Than Religion

Recently a friend of mine shared a conversation he had with his sister.  She had come to him to talk about some marital struggles she had been going through to the point of questioning whether to even remain married.  As anyone would be, he was shocked and saddened that someone he loved would be going through such a time.  But as he summarized (in no great details) his talk with her he said “She and her husband are not Christian or religious and all the advice I had was scriptural based.  I didn’t have anything to help her.”

I found that statement very sad.  How can you not have anything to say?  Is there nothing from life and the world around us that helps provide guidance and insight into the complex situations of life?  While religion and God are often the result of many people searching for the answers to life’s questions, an equal amount of people leave religion and God because they can’t find the answers they are looking for.  Since when did religion have all the answers?

What frustrates me even more about the statement is it shows the limits that people place on themselves due to religion.  I’m religious therefore I must have a religious “Bible” response to every problem in life?  Maybe it’s very irreligious of me, but sometimes Joshua 1:9 (do not be discouraged…) just isn’t as helpful as R.E.M.:

Sometimes everything is wrong 
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go (hold on)
When you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on

Everybody hurts 
Take comfort in your friends.
Everybody hurts
Don’t throw your hand. Oh, no
Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

To me religion is merely one aspect of who I am that provides me with the ability to navigate through life.  Grace, hope, and peace through my faith helps me see joys and sorrows through a greater lens than my own narrow existence would allow me.  However, it is only a portion of my life.  All of the thoughts, actions, and events of my life provide me with experience to deal with situations.  It would be like answering “I didn’t study that in college so I don’t know how to answer”.  Don’t your life experiences, education, cultural norms, and social/politcal opinions combine to guide you through life?

And wouldn’t all of those things combine to provide you with the ability to comfort the grieving, bring peace to those who are angry, and touch the weary?


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