November, 13 2015
Help, I'm 13 and I'm Losing My Faith!

Find out what Madge says to a 13-year old who feels conflicted about her changing views on God and religion.

by Magdalene
Lifestyle
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Hello,
 
This is something I’ve been dying to ask.
 
I am a 13-year-old girl. I am more, what would you say, open, I guess. My family’s quite religious, but my parents are not quite. But they believe in God nonetheless.
 
I’m really worried because as I grow older, I become more unfaithful, you know? I tend to roll my eyes at the word God and such and I know that it’s a bad thing. Rolling your eyes at the word God is a red flag. ESPECIALLY if you’re in front of a religious person.
 
I rarely pray, and even if I do, I don’t pray to a specific being or what-not. I just feel blessed and thankful.
 


I became more agnostic-like as I grew older too. I don’t really believe in God anymore like I did when I was a child, as I don’t even know if she or he exists at all. And I’m not putting this in a blasphemous or an offending way, as religion is a very positive thing.
 
But what should I do? Do I just have to read the bible and shit (excuse me) to ”understand” the world of religion – and to be more faithful because I have to pretend that I actually care and that I am actually a religious person in front of my family? Or is this just a phase?
 
Thanks,
A
 
 
Hi A,
 
You are perfectly normal!
 
Yes, it could be just a phase, but it could also mean that you’re going through a personal transformation. Many people have at some point question the religion they were born to. Some end up quitting their religion altogether, some do for a while before later returning to it, and, yet, some are driven to learn more and possibly become even more faithful in a deeper way.
 
First off, though, there is nothing wrong with being agnostic or atheist. But in my book, it is definitely rude to roll your eyes when someone mentions God or religion, because it is equivalent to insulting someone’s belief system. So, try not to do that. Always be courteous and kind.

Seriously, if you do decide to become an atheist, please don’t be a rabid and smug one who enjoys putting down all religions and every religious person. Think of it as a personal thing. Some people may relate to it, some people need it for personal reason, some people don’t believe it and find that it serves no purpose in their life.
 
Now, as for your question about what to do, I have several times addressed this question, so maybe you’d like to read them in these following links. This one from a conflicted teenager, whom you might be able to relate to. And this one from someone slightly older.
 
You are still very young, however. You have all the time in the world to explore. I suggest you read up on your religion, not just the bible but also other and more objective books written by scholars, historians or philosophers. That was how I resolved some of my internal conflicts regarding my belief (or non-belief) as well. Try also to read up on other religions (like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Baha’i, etc). Read up on authors like Karen Armstrong or the likes. There is a common thread in all these religions, but there are also some fundamental differences.
 
To me reading up on them opened up my horizons and gave me new perspectives on religion. It didn’t make me believe again, it made me understand, tolerate and appreciate the differences.
 
Having said this, I think it’s good that you still maintain the habit of praying. That’s what I still do as well, especially before I eat. But what I do is thanking everyone involved in the making of the food – the people, the animals, the plants – and expressing my wish that other people will be able to enjoy food as nutritious as what I am about to eat. You don’t have to be a religious person to count your blessings and to send some good vibes to the universe ;).
 
Hugs and take care!
 
~M
 
Got a burning question about something? Send it to [email protected] -- in English or Indonesian -- with the subject "Ask Madge" or tweet your question to @the_magdalene.