|When I was a Christian, one of the things I spent a lot of time and energy on was acting like a Christian, or at least my interpretation of what a Christian should act like. This involved being more outgoing, setting a good moral example, and voicing my views when topics came up in conversation that had anything remotely to do with religion. Looking back, I still don't think I was wrong with many of the things I did, assuming my interpretation of the Bible was correct. And while that's debatable, certain things in Christianity aren't really up for debate, such as attempting to live a morally upright life and spreading the message of salvation in the process.
The thing is, a lot of the things I felt compelled to do as a Christian really didn't come naturally. I'm a shy, reserved person; I'm relatively private and don't express myself too much. So being asked to "always be ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope that you have" (Bible verse) often felt uncomfortable and unnatural. I'll be the first to admit that Christianity also created opportunities for me that I probably wouldn't have had otherwise, largely by encouraging me to deal with discomfort. But this brought up an unpleasant catch-22: Either I could (a) practice a watered-down Christianity and feel guilty about it, or (b) pretend to be someone else until that someone else eventually took over. In other words, Christianity told me I was flawed and that I needed to change. Not that I was acting or thinking wrong, but that I was being wrong.
The band Audioslave sings a song called Be Yourself with the following simple and precise chorus: "To be yourself is all that you can do". It's true. The alternatives are to not be yourself or to be someone else, both of which are ridiculous. That's what I always felt like Christianity was doing to me. It was changing me by telling me to be someone else. That worked fine for a while because I wanted to change anyway. It wasn't until those changes started to go against my own desires that I finally paused to consider who I actually wanted to be.
I'm not the same person I was when I was 5 or 15 or 25, but there are a handful of underlying qualities and interests I possess that feel completely normal and natural to me. Trying to deny that I'm introverted or rational is the first step to discomfort and unhappiness. All I can do is to be myself. #religion