My Religion, My Life

How I learned to appreciate it

Whosoever will, let him come, let him come… is part of a song lyric that is sung many times after the closing of the Gospel messages at many churches, along with a solemn announcement of invitation from the messenger; “The doors of the church are open, if anyone has a willing heart, come to the altar.” Moreover, after the preacher’s summation of his message, the deacons who are present, stand to set seats out in front of the waiting congregation, as well as, the ministers, in great hope and anticipation that someone’s heart was touched by the spirit of God to eagerly come up to accept the Lord as savior, or to submissively sit in the seats to join the church after hearing the word of God through the message.

That is one thing I love about my religion. No one is forced or coerced into Christianity. At least, in the allotted time that I have invested in this religion, I never have seen or heard of that happening.

Remember earlier when I mentioned “Whosever will, let him come?” Well at the same time, I was born into this religion, meaning, as a child I had parents that raised me in the church. Truly, accepting Christ as one’s savior is done with a submissive heart. I was introduced to this religion as a child and as a child, I thought and acted like a child, not taking the religion I was introduced seriously. I did not responsibly take this religion as my own until I turned an age that brought on a better understanding of why I accepted the Lord in my life. Ultimately, that’s when I chose to accept Christ as my savior.

I am the fourth child of six sisters and a brother and we grew up in a God-fearing home. From my understanding, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” My dad and mom would adamantly remind us of this and would show us that fearing the Lord was not that of being scared of God but knowing that acknowledging who he is and doing the will of God by living a life conducive to his word gives more clarity of his omnipotence.

My father and mother are not just faithful members of the church, but their need to be present at church on a weekly basis was overwhelming fro me. Many times, I dreaded and loathed as a child, that six days a week, the entire family, religiously (No pun intended) had to prepare to go to church. It came to the point and time that I got tired of going as much as we did.

Every day of the week except Monday was the only day we did not attend church. One might think that hey, at least we would get Monday as a break from religion; but that did not happen. My siblings and I had to reluctantly come together many times, gather in the living room to attend Bible study. And guess who was the wise teacher? Good ole dad. Whew! how did I manage such a task for many years? It had to be God that helped me press through those time consuming, unending Bible study meetings.

Life takes on turns of events that might seem funny or awkward at times. When I turned 18, I tried numerous times to suppress my thoughts of religion by way of my decision to not be as dedicated as my parents. In fact, I left the church when I moved out of my parent’s home at 19. The reason I left the church was that I felt I needed the freedom to make decisions on my own in serving God. In other words, my servitude would be on my own terms in regard to when, where, why, and how I would do it. My two oldest sisters, along with me and my brother, who is the oldest of all his sisters, shared a two-bedroom, one-bedroom apartment in Long Beach.

It was exciting because for the first time, I thought I was free from the reigns of my parents and religion. Little did I know that I wasn’t. At first, my father would linger on, trying to take the wheel of my life to make sure I did not forsake my religion. I stand by the idea that I have never known or seen coercion to follow Christ; I had a made up mind to follow Christ, but I believe my dad had a hard time of letting go. His adult children had their own household. We were disturbed by my dad when he would make sure to call us on the phone every Sunday. He would verify we were going, or we were ready to be picked up for church by actually insisting he would pick us up for church. My sisters and brother also felt the burden of our father’s insistence.

My brother did not live with us for long. After moving in, it was within one month that he made the decision to move in with his girlfriend. My sisters were workaholics and did not give too much attention to my father’s cry. I felt like that person who is told: “You can run, but you can’t hide.” At that point and time, my father’s actions became the last straw. I could not handle his interruptions any longer so I decided I would disappear by not being at home for his phone calls or visits. He finally got the message through all our actions of portraying “We have to live our own life now.”

I don’t want to define my actions as rebellion. I was 19, young and went searching through life to what more it had to offer me. In my searching, I ran into a disturbing distraction; I involved myself with a man that I fell in love with. I found out for myself that opposites do attract. Oftentimes, people start relationships with blinders on and fail to see what is pertinent to make each other happy and fail to see how a relationship can continuously grow. When I found out he was practicing Islam, I first thought that maybe we could compromise on various aspects of our relationship. Unfortunately, I was wrong. We were together for one year before we had our first child together. Eventually, he tried to control my life. He wanted to know where I was 24 hours a day. Though he did not hurt me physically, he did mentally and emotionally. He told me that nobody would love me other than him and would constantly put down my religion by denouncing it.

The sad part of it all is that I wanted to stay in the relationship. I allowed myself to settle for less than what I deserved. I yearned for the man and it turned out to be a desperate act on my part.

We planned a wedding, but on the day of the wedding, he stood me up and was nowhere to be found. This ended up being a blessing in disguise. He finally called and said he could not do it. On the day of our celebration he decided this. What was he thinking? I felt my world falling apart. I gave my heart to a man who I thought wanted marriage and a family as much as I did. Sadly, having my child out of wedlock, my dad believed, went against the order of God and that brought him to lash out at me in a painstakingly way; his language towards me was not in any way helpful. This occurrence also drew me farther from the church and my father.

It does not surprise me of the decline of church membership at many parishes today. I know of some people who have done just that, stop their church attendance due feeling “church hurt” as many would define. Various reasons are exposed; A young lady told me that she stopped going to church because the Sunday morning services were held too long. For people to decide to join the church is one thing, but creating a format or platform to keep them coming is another and I believe very important. Opposed to my reason of being constantly watched by my father to attend church, I always had the love for church, it stayed resolute in my heart.

According to, “Not only are millennials less likely than older Americans to identify with a religion, but millennials who are religious are significantly less likely to belong to a church.” Gallup added the reason for the declination of church membership among the millennials, “The decline in church membership is consistent with larger societal trends in declining church attendance and an increasing proportion of American with no religious preference.” Religious preference is also declining among millennials.

My parents and I believe in the power of prayer, and they believe in God’s promises through his word. They declared and believed that if they would “train a child in the way that they should go when they grow old, they would not depart from it.” They wholeheartedly held onto that promise.


After taking a thorough self-evaluation, I knew I needed spiritual guidance that my parents earnestly prayed for their children to obtain. “With the functional Christian foundation that stirred and made me, I was eager to allow the manifestation of what was taken lightly and neglected become me”.

Years have passed since the birth of my child. She is my love and I am proud of her. Although I was terribly shaken by the incident of not getting married, I have to say, “All my good days, outweigh my bad days, I won’t complain.” In my time of reflecting back, I am so glad that the marriage did not happen. Looking at it more clearly, there were more problems in our relationship than expected and it would have ended not so good. He did me a favor after all.

I came to realize that my religion is the best thing that ever happened to me. Through my religion, I found peace through my storm and the spirit of God kept my mind because I know that I could have lost it many times. Furthermore, my father and I have developed a better relationship and understanding regarding independence and freedom.

When I look back at my childhood, I understand that my father did the best he knew how in raising his children to love God, and out of all that was ascribed to us, I found myself. I earnestly understand what God desires from me. I developed a love to attend church and I find myself going almost as much as my father. Who would have ever thought!