Poverty is all around us these days. A simple drive down Main Street will show you homeless men holding signs asking for food, a job, or just compassion. Going to church as a kid, helping the poor always seemed to be the center of the church. Whether it was through canned food drives or mission trips, helping the poor was always extremely important in the sermons.
Looking around the church a few years ago, I noticed a few things that I always thought were odd. One night, a homeless man wandered into the church. Although he was given a meal, he was immediately asked to leave when he finished. I noticed the fancy, expensive clothes worn by church-goers every Sunday, and I heard the quiet whispers of gossip, insulting those who didn’t dress “appropriately.”
There was an older woman who was very sick who would come to the church by herself and sit in the first pew. She never spoke to anyone, and the elder women of the church would whisper, wondering why this woman was here. She always wore very casual clothes that looked a little tattered, whereas some women would come in big, fancy hats and matching dresses.
I remember a group of church members went on a mission trip to Nicaragua. Before they left, we were all told they were going to be building homes and helping the poor. However, upon arriving back to the church, it was apparent to me that the only “help” offered to the poor was the “Word of God.”
There are many reasons I finally left the church, but the fact that the church masquerades around, preaching to help the poor and taking little action is the main reason I finally decided the church wasn’t for me. These “mission trips” that were supposed to help people were really just a ploy to shove religion down the throats of the needy. Telling these people they need to pray to get out of poverty isn’t helping them. If they really wanted to help them, they’d provide them with food, clean water and shelter, not a book of stories of hope. To really give these people hope, they need to be provided with the necessities to live a healthy, happy life.
Although many churches do good, the hypocrisies I witnessed in church were what finally drove me away from the God I once believed in. I realized more and more as I’ve gotten older that the church isn’t necessary to have a happy life. In order to have a happy life you must do things that will make you happy. I know from personal experience that making other people happy makes me really happy. Providing people with things they need pleases me more than satisfying my own needs.
Through my sorority and in my private time I’ve found ways to lift up others without religious meaning behind it. I love representing myself positively to my friends, family and even total strangers by helping them acquire whatever it is that they need to get by. Giving makes me happy. I don’t feel that I need to give to please some God. I focus on my own happiness and spreading that happiness to everyone around me and everyone I love.