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When asked about my religion I say I am Catholic.  I had my First communion but besides that I never really went to church.  I was blessed to grow up exposed to all kinds of faiths.  I went to Baptist Bible School.  Once a week I went to Seicho-no-ie meetings.  My mother was heavily into Spiritism and would impart upon us the spiritual teachings.

Some ideas have been ingrained in me since I was a child: The idea of always doing good, helping the less fortunate, doing/ speaking/thinking no evil, the power of positive thinking, the idea of reaping what you sow, karma, etc.  I am grateful for that!  Today I am open minded and believe there is good in any religion;.  I was taught not to believe that one religion is better than the other and to see any kind of fanatical belief as bad.  It was never about the religion itself, but how I chose to behave and act that showed my faith.

Two years ago I had friends spending the weekend at my apartment.  They never miss Sunday Mass so we found a church near my home and I went with them.  Since then I try to go to mass every now and then.  I went 2 weeks ago.  This past Sunday morning at 8am I was still in bed talking to myself about going to mass.  Mass is at 9 and the church is 2 blocks from my home so I had plenty of time to go, but still I debating the idea.

Laziness, or whatever the right word is, won out.  I justified staying at home by telling myself that I don’t need to be in church to pray.  I can just stay at home and watch Joel Osteen’s Sunday sermon.  Lately I have been watching his sermons and I really enjoy them.  I find his messages always positive and uplifting.

On a side note, I mentioned to a friend that I enjoyed him and he pointed out to me that he makes millions of dollars preaching.  I said:  what does that have to do with anything?  I enjoy his message.  How much money he has and what he chooses to do with it is not for me to judge. That is between him and his God.

So I made breakfast and sat at the table and turned on Joel Osteen’s last week’s sermon.  I am always one week behind watching his TV show.

He started speaking and I couldn’t believe my ears.  The message was to me.  The sermon was called: Better Together.

The main idea was the importance of attending a religious service, but I got more than that.  We can pray at home but there is an extra benefit to going to church.  We benefit from being in a community.  Going to a service is not only what it give us but what we give to it, and to others.

The combination of faithful together heals each other.  It recharges us for the week ahead.  Going to church is not because we need something,  we are in pain, we are needy.  Going to church is to give thanks, is to honor a Higher power.   To go to church is to help others, is to lend strength, to emanate positive energy, to bring an uplifting smile, to combine faith, to share your presence with others.

“When 2 or 3 are gathered in the name of Jesus, God is in the midst.”

Joel Osteen was taking about going to a religious service, but the message rang through further than that.  It meant a whole way of looking at my life. The message to me is that we don’t have to do life alone.

I learned early on not to wait for others to do anything I want to do.  I learned not to wait for anyone’s help.  I learned to love being self sufficient, and alone.

I am a loner. I don’t feel lonely, I just value solitude.  I go out with friends and on dates but I love getting back to my quiet dark apartment.  Everywhere I go I cannot wait to get back home.  Even vacations that I love, after a few days I want to go home.

I do online dating not only to look for a partner, but to force myself to dress up and get out of the house. Even great dates have me wanting to go home.

This week alone I met 2 great guys: Without giving too many details, the first one is an adventure writer.  He has lived, and continues to live an amazing life.  He has so many stories to tell.  The second is an international attorney that happens to be the attorney for one of the biggest Brazilian singers.  He took me to an amazing restaurant.  We were actually the last ones to leave the place.  But here is what these 2 dates had in common besides being great: Once I realized how great they were,  I spent the whole time looking for reasons not to see them again.  I wanted them to fail in some way so that I could go back to being alone.

At this point I realize I need to step it up.   I have to pick a guy and date for more than a couple of weeks, and not spend the time looking for flaws.   But I need to do more, make more of an effort to make new friends and reconnect with old ones.  Perhaps church is the beginning.

Life is best when is tempered with things that we must do with things we want do.  Doing only what I want is great, feels indulgent, but it is not the path for the great future that awaits me.

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke”  – Vincent Van Gogh