This is a blog post written by Marissa Gates, Kent Schmidt’s daughter. It in no way reflects how he feels on any topic, and all posts made by me (Marissa Gates) will be identified by a “Vocal Offspring” in the title of the post.
Growing up, I was a very keen observer. Most called me shy, but in reality I just preferred to listen rather than speak. Being so observant, I knew from a young age that my family struggled deeply with religion and their own personal beliefs. I was certainly no exception, primarily because of the lack of religious direction in my household.
I’m not saying that absence of religious consistency was necessarily a bad thing, but you can imagine growing up in a primarily Roman Catholic hometown. Everyone seemed to know what they believed in, why, and how they would practice their beliefs.
I, myself, felt no real connection to any religion, despite having free reign to believe however I wanted with no influence from outside sources trying to push their beliefs. (I thank my parents for not pressuring me to believe how they did.) As I grew older I began to severely dislike religion as a whole because of what I’d seen people do in the name of it. In high school I would have told you I hated all religions. I considered myself to be atheistic and while I didn’t shove my ideals down people’s throats, I would make it known how I felt about religion if you asked me. No censor included.
I didn’t know it at the time but the hatred I felt toward religion wasn’t hatred at all. It was envy. I wanted to believe in something. I wanted to have faith in something. I wanted to be connected to something more. I just couldn’t. Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, monotheism, polytheism… I couldn’t identify with any of it, but I spent plenty of time trying to force myself to.
To make matters worse, when I graduated high school and fell in love with a man whose family is deeply religious and certain in their faith, I felt more lost than ever. It made it hard to see how they could believe in something that could affect them so wholly. Even my husband is a Catholic (non-practicing, but still very sure in his faith).
I felt like I was on the outside looking in.
But that feeling made me realize something: I was on the outside looking in.
Society likes to put things like faith into boxes. You either belong in one box or another. I don’t like boxes, never have. I’ve never fit into any of societies boxes, be it religion, politics, or even sexuality.
I’ve come to realize I don’t believe in any one religion. I believe in all of them. God is God. He or She or They aren’t Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any other religion. God is all of them. God is all things.
Some religions even come right out and say “God is all things” but then turn around and try to convince you that those who believe in a different God or Gods are wrong. That doesn’t make sense to me. Everyone is so concerned with fighting over which box is the right one, but everyone is wrong. And everyone is right.
As for the Bible and other religious texts, I believe they are written by man to control man. People shouldn’t need a book to tell them to be good and to inspire good in others. And I refuse to believe that any God would want to punish or hurt us, or for us to hurt or punish others in His/Her/Their name. Truly the all-powerful, all-seeing God wouldn’t be so petty. My God certainly isn’t. My God allows mistakes. My God allows us to have individual life experiences– good or bad– and loves us all anyways.
As for death and the afterlife, I sincerely don’t know. Not knowing scares the crap out of me, but I think there is something beyond this world. I hope there’s something. I have faith that there’s something. And that’s all anyone has, really. Faith that there’s something more.
My God is everyone’s God and I believe he loves us all no matter what we choose to put our faith in. That’s what I choose to put my faith in, and I’ve never been so at peace with my relationship with God as I am now.