What Religion Taught Me

I think religion has been portrayed so negatively in recent news that people are almost afraid of it. Christians are portrayed as either pushovers or bible bashers like Ned Flanders from the Simpsons. Muslims are portrayed as suicidal terrorists, where people make jokes about fearing Asians at airports. That’s just a few examples. I was brought up in a Christian home, where I have attended a number of churches but also have friends from all walks of life and religious backgrounds.

My Buddhist friend taught me to be patient and how to find inner peace. During my teenage years, I went through a roller coaster of emotions. I felt as though the world was against me and would fluctuate from happy to anger within a matter of moments. I never understood why I was always upset, I just know that I was searching for who I was whilst fighting social moulds. I met a girl in my class, who was Buddhist. She believed in peace and appreciate all things in nature. She taught me to appreciate who I was, a perfectly imperfect person who was still shaping my identity. She taught me to be patient, that it wouldn’t happen overnight and that was okay. Most importantly, she taught me how to find inner peace by forgiving myself and learning to love who I was and who I would become.

My Muslim friend taught me how to be disciplined and modest. During my time at university, I met a lovely Muslim girl. She was always covered up and I always thought, ‘she’s so beautiful, why doesn’t she show her gorgeous long hair or wear more fitted clothes to show her body off more’. I was naïve. She explained that she covers herself to keep her modesty and that beauty is internal not external. I had never really put that much thought into the way I was viewed by others, I am now more mindful of how I present myself. She also attended the mosque regularly and prayed often. I loved her discipline, without fail, she would follow the teachings of her religion. I have always done what I want, when I want. I learnt to apply that discipline that she had taught me to things like doing my assignments on time and keeping my promises.

My Sikh friend taught me to be charitable. I used to work at a phone shop where I met a Sikh man. He was very quiet and rarely spoke, but when he did, he spoke wisdom. He told me about the charity events that he was part of and I was inspired. I have always loved helping people but often made excuses as to why I couldn’t. He taught me that you don’t need to give large sums of money or a huge amount of your time. You can do things that you enjoy like gardening or teaching children a skill. Giving back didn’t have to be boring. Since meeting him, I have been a part of many charitable events and understand its importance in society.

Most of all, religion taught me to be tolerant and love everyone. Christianity taught me to love everyone as much as I love myself. Every person I come across, I show them the same love that I would show my family and I am mindful to treat them the same way I would like to be treated. There is a lot to be learnt from religion. What have you learnt?


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