Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention — BIPOC essay contest: Caitlin Guidry

Vol. 38 No. 09 November 2021
Caitlin Guidry                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Why I let go

By Caitlin Guidry 

Dear Dad,

I remember praying to God every night before bed. I would go down the list of thanks: my health, my family, “clothes on my back, food on our table, and a roof over our heads.”

I was proud to be Christian, follow the commandments, and go to church. It was how you raised me and it made you happy. Most importantly, though, it felt right.

Somewhere down the line, however, I lost that feeling. The most important motivator. The one that validated me and helped me understand my higher purpose. The one that felt righteous and pure at heart.

I wish I could explain what changed. I wish you could understand and that this wouldn’t be disappointment to you. But I have to tell you the truth.

I want you to know that I appreciate your sacrifice and love you more than anyone and anything. This is why I hope you can understand how difficult this was for me. I cannot blindly follow anything that doesn’t feel true to myself or that makes me unhappy. For me, being told “that’s just the way it is” or “because the bible said so” wasn’t enough. There were so many rules I didn’t understand. There was so much misogyny and so much hatred. I couldn’t help but question why a religion that is supposed to be centered around love could be so judgmental and hypocritical. I didn’t understand why suffering was necessary just to “get to the other side.”

More than that, religion caused discord in my life. It caused internal conflict and complicated my relationships with those closest to me. It is not the same place of peace, dedication and power for me as it is for you. As much as I love you, I can’t force myself to follow along simply for your approval. This letter is not intended to invalidate your religion. I love that you have found something that works for you, but I need you to accept that I am not the same.

That being said, you need to know that I consider myself agnostic. I believe it’s impossible to either confirm nor deny God’s existence and I do not believe in the legitimacy of the bible. However, do not confuse my rejection of religion with satanism, corrupt morals or

lack of spirituality. If anything, releasing myself from religion has allowed me to realign my moral compass, authenticity, autonomy and spirituality. I am free to guide my actions in the purest, intentional, and kind way because I know it is my choice. I didn’t do it out of fear, or to get what I was promised, or because I was told to.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the cracks of religion. You get so focused on the rules that you shirk your responsibility to people in your life, immerse yourself in judgment or self-pity, and lose touch with your free will. Something is disheartening about following along with a book that promises you will burn in hell for eternity if you disobey.

So, instead, I rely on the internal moral compass that we are all born with. I am the product of self-diligence and self-empowerment. Breaking free of religion has allowed me to gain a better perspective on life and to treat others and myself with kindness and empathy. Ultimately, I believe life is about finding your own path, morals and beliefs and leaving a lasting impact on the world. That is what I am going to do and I hope you will support me.

I love you, Dad.

Your daughter,

Caitlin

Caitlin, 19, is from Missouri City, Texas, and attends Houston Community College. “I held leadership roles in the Women of Color Affinity Group and the African American Affinity Group in high school,” Caitlin writes. “I volunteered to participate in a Houston city-wide program with Mayor Sylvester Turner to provide meals and Covid relief to underserved communities. After graduation, I hope to continue on to medical school where I will obtain my doctorate in psychiatry.”