So, if you can’t tell by now, I am a bit of an emotional person. And I don’t necessarily mean that I am depressed. I’m not depressed at all actually. In fact I love to laugh and I laugh frequently. Some would even say that I am quite funny. But, unfortunately for you, you are getting a pretty in depth view of my serious side 🙂 (hopefully it’s not that bad). But what I mean by emotional is that I experience emotions deeply, especially about things that are important to me. And, I think the single most important thing to me is relationships with people. I seriously LOVE people. I am not particularly fond of being alone, to the point that I usually prefer to have my “alone time” in the company of others (do something by myself but with other people around). My idea of the perfect life is something akin to an everlasting family reunion. Part of that may have to do with the fact that I grew up with seven siblings. When people ask me what my favorite thing to do is, I usually try to make something more exciting up (since I do enjoy a lot of other things), but honestly, my favorite thing to do is talk to people. And by talk to people, I mean really get to know people. Surface relationships and small talk don’t do a whole lot for me, but usually my own open personality mixed with a little casual prying is enough to get people to start opening up 🙂 Maybe that sounds bad, but I don’t mean it in a bad way. I just love to know people, real people, for who they really are. And that is simply the best! And once I know you and love you, it doesn’t matter how long it has been since we talked to each other, I still know you and love you just the same way as I did the last time I talked to you. And so, for me, one of the very hardest things is losing relationships with people. So, as a habit, I just try to not let that happen.
So one of the most beautiful and important things that Mormonism has brought me is the belief that the relationships I cherish, in such a profound way, can continue, literally, forever. That belief has brought me, and so many other people, an incredible amount of peace. And wondering whether there is actually anything after this has brought me a lot of fear.
Currently, I am terrified of death. Now, Ricardo doesn’t seem to be, so I am not saying this is how all non-religious people feel. But for me, there is nothing that scares me more than the thought of someone I love dying when I don’t know if I will ever see that person again. I really don’t know how I would handle it if someone I was really close to me died. And the scary thing is that it is inevitable that this will happen (unless I die first, which is equally terrifying).
Now, this story is a bit embarrassing because I am kind of dumb to do stuff like this to myself. But, the other day I was reading the blog of someone who is in a similar place to where I am at concerning religion. And on the blog she talked about how they had a premature baby that they decided not to keep on life support and how she held this little boy in her arms as he took his last breaths. And it impacted me a lot. Maybe it was remembering my own miscarriages. Maybe it was thinking of my own son. But I started wondering, what if that happened to me? What if Andrew got sick and died? Or what if Ricardo got in an accident driving home from work? Or someone in my family got cancer? Or a best friend dies? What if I get one of those phone calls that stops your heart?…. And what if there is no life after this? And those people are gone, forever. And even just imagining all this, I was crying (a little ridiculous, I know), and I started getting a headache. It was like my brain couldn’t even process the possibility that this life could be it, and when someone I love dies, that’s it.
That is probably the single most important reason that I want to be able to keep believing. And it’s one of the most important reasons that I still think religion is such an important thing for people. Hope, faith, even knowledge (some really do feel certain) that there is life after death and they can see the people they love is a priceless thing.
But there are problems with focusing so much on life after death too. Namely, you focus so much on having a good afterlife that you forget to make this life good. And this is the one that matters. Think about it, if you were sure, or even if you just seriously wondered if, this life was all there is, would you try to make the most of every day? Would you stop putting off something that would make you truly happy? Would you maybe enjoy the people you love more, knowing your time with them is so limited? I know when I start thinking that this might be the only life I hold my husband a lot closer at night. And if the whole world thought this life was it, a lot of atrocities could be avoided. No more 9/11’s. No more holy wars. No more ethic cleansing based on religious affiliation. There is something to say for a world without religion.
Having said that, it seems like the best scenario, on a personal level, would be to be able to have that faith in life after death, to get me (and others) through the hard atrocities that are unavoidable in life, and yet enjoy this life as fully as I can. It seems like the two could go together. And I can’t control other religions, but I can start with me, and say anything in my own religion that is promoting hate, violence, prejudice, or anything of the sort, is something I refuse to embrace, in fact, is something I will fight to change.