By Guest Blogger: Ryan Abbott, 20, he lives in Detroit, Michigan (yes, actually the Detroit). He is a junior, pre-med at Wayne State University and is majoring in Spanish. He wants to one day become a cardiologist and fittingly, loves to golf. You can find him on Twitter at @_abbottr.
That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…
It’s kind of a weird thing if you stop and think about it. How does one exactly ‘lose’ their religion? Tempers, maybe, but actual religion? I lost my religion once, or whatever religion I thought I had.
Growing up, my parents never made a big deal about religion and respected it as a personal thing. But then my dad suffered a grade 5 subarachnoid hemorrhage caused from a ruptured brain aneurysm and was in a coma for a month, and survived. Religion and faith – in God and my dad, then played gigantic roles in my life.
“Thank God,” was around me every single day.
“I’m praying for him,” seemed to be the new way for someone to say goodbye to me.
While the majority of my family clung onto their relationship with God, I pushed mine away. Whatever shaky ground I had stood on before with my faith and religion, at some point along the road, collapsed underneath me.
In high school, my dad was pretty popular, a stereotypical jock and incredibly social. But, when prom rolled around, he asked one of his friends outside of his normal friend circle. He knew she didn’t have anyone to go with, and he didn’t want her to be left out or feel bad. This is how my dad has lived his entire life. He cares for people more than I can actually fathom.
I felt stuck in an abyss. I had nothing to hold on to. How could this have happened to my dad? He is such a phenomenal person. If God is real, how and why did this happen? I was devastated by the idea that I may never “have” the same dad, or life, again. These questions consumed me. I fell to new lows in search of answers. I was a sophomore in college…perfect timing for a ‘quarter-life-crisis.’
I found my answer, in Buddhism. Karma is a big part of Buddhist belief and was essential in my struggle for answers. It was exactly what I needed, a religion that’s more about myself and how I live than it is about my devotion to something greater. I could finally understand better why my dad had survived, despite the 2% chance. My dad is the best person I know. Karma.
It has been 11 months now since I discovered and converted to Buddhism, meditating, and committing myself to living a better life. It works for me. It’s the most liberating feeling in the world. I feel confident, clear, peaceful and most of all, I finally feel happy.
But, as a white guy that grew up in a small, semi-rural town in Michigan, I experienced mixed reactions. Half my family thought I was joking. Well, no, all of them did. Do. My mom is confused. My brother? Who the hell knows what he truly thinks? My dad talks to me about God like he’s ignoring the fact that I’m Buddhist.
I don’t blame any of them but like it has always been in my family, religion will always be – just for me.