Out-of-the-Box Christian

By: Amy Wise

Religion is a recurring theme in my life.  Just the other day I was in Starbucks, anxiously awaiting my caramel frappaccino, when a very attractive black man in a suit came up to me and said, “Do you practice?”  I wasn’t sure what he was referring to, and at first I thought he was asking if I was a practicing attorney because this particular Starbucks is on the bottom floor of a law firm.  He clearly saw the puzzled look on my face and pointed to my bracelet, and said, “Is that just an accessory or do you practice?”  Ohhhh!  I finally got it. My bracelet had Buddhas on it and he wanted to know if I was a practicing Buddhist.  I thought about it for a second and wondered if I should give this complete stranger my true beliefs on religion, or the quick and easy answer, which would have been, “I’m a Christian.”  The easy answer, however, just does not cover the full story of how I feel about religion.  I’m a Christian, but there is so much more to it than that.  I decided to be open and give him the “more”.  I said, “No I’m not a Buddhist, but I’m a very out-of-the-box Christian, open to all religions.  I practice bits and pieces of many religions, including Buddhism, because in the end don’t we all want the same thing from whatever religion it is that we practice?”  He looked at me, smiled, took my hand in both of his hands, and said, “Thank you, that’s exactly how I feel and I’m so very happy to meet you!”  In that moment, two strangers understood that if we all open our minds and hearts to each other, the world would be a much more peaceful place.  It was a pretty cool moment.

A few days after that, my sister and I were talking and she told me that she loved the fact that my friends were from so many different backgrounds, ages, and religions.  She was so right!  My friends are a “we are the world gumbo”.  I have friends that are Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Atheist, Goddess, Universe, and I’m sure I’m missing something, but you get the idea.  I love them all.  I respect them all.  I’m thankful that they are all in my life.  Period.

As a child I was raised as a Lutheran, and I even taught Sunday school, but as I got older I held on to some beliefs and let go of others, while opening my mind to so many more.  Being in an interracial marriage automatically frees your mind.  How could it not?  We are living a life that is not the norm, but it’s a life filled with love, so why would a religion that is not “my norm” be any different?

Religion to me is now all about faith, peace, love, kindness, caring and giving.  I pray to Jesus.  I meditate to Buddha.  I talk to God.  I look to the Universe.  It’s all good as far as I’m concerned!  So when someone asks me what my religion is, I have to ask, “Do you really want to know?”  If the answer is yes, well then, I’m an out-of-the-box Christian…and so much more!

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Comments

  1. Ei says

    Amen. I’m a UU…and I think sometimes we (Unitarian Universalists) think we have a corner on the market of having complex spiritual/theological/religious ideals. I think to be human and ponder our own experience on this rock is, in and of itself a complex experience. I’m glad you took the time to articulate it. I also am a believer of Creative Interchange…the idea that God exists in the creative exchange of thought and love between all people. You certainly seemed to have had one of those moments.

  2. Carol says

    I LOVE THIS!! It’s all about being open, open minded and open hearted!! I have alot of people in my life who close themselves off. How could someone believe in Jesus and at the same time not be accepting of other races/religions. They Honestly need to ask themselves for REAL What Would Jesus Do???? If he really was who they belive him to be, then they must be as accepting and loving as he was. Jesus was NOT an elitist!
    It’s simply all about LOVE.
    Thanks Amy!!!!

  3. cathy says

    Great piece Amy. And I admit, my own altar looks very similar to the one in the photo ;) Mine also has a poem (Damn the torrent of ecstasy when it runs to flood…) by Rumi and a couple of postcards of the work of Beato Angelico and Michaelangelo. The divine manifests everywhere…

  4. Amy Wise says

    Ei, Shannon, and Carol,

    Thank you all for your lovely comments and for reading! I truly believe that if more minds were open peace would be just around the corner. I love to hear that you are all so open minded. There is hope! A.

  5. Amy Wise says

    Cathy thank you so much for reading here too! Your comment showed up after I commented to everyone else. I love that you are on She Writes and read there, and on my blog. You are too sweet!! Have a beautiful day!!! Amy

  6. Amy Wise says

    Madge!!! My soul sister in China! Miss you! I’m so glad you have access to The Next Fam. Who knew. =) Love you right back!!

  7. Brandy says

    Amy, I know I said it and I’ll say it again. I really loved this post. I love your perspective and positive outlook on life. Thanks for sharing and embracing the theme!

  8. Amy Wise says

    Brandy and Joey thank you both! I soooo appreciate it. It was really a cool moment with this man. It really showed me how important it is to always speak our full truth. Hugs to you both! Amy

  9. Shannon Ralph says

    Amy–I have to comment again. I love how positive you are about religion. I really struggle with it, but you seem to be able to incorporate the best of religion into your life flawlessly with little to no struggle. I wish I knew your secret. I love your outlook. :) The positivism in all of your writing is infectious.

  10. Razia Shamsiddeen says

    Love this article! It shows my reflection. I guess I can say I am an out of the box Muslim. I also take from all religions and my life, my friends, and my family reflect all my experiences by way of the various cultures and religions that I have dipped into. It’s so great to truly be free. One is never truly free until your mind and soul are free. It is what we should all strive for. Great article Amy! Love it!

    Razia

  11. Amy Wise says

    Shannon,

    Thank you so much! You really touched me by saying that. It has been a process and a lot of soul searching to get to this place. The one thing that made it really easy for me however was taking the word religion out and replacing it with faith. Religion is specific and restrictive with rules that don’t always fit everyone. Faith is broad and filled with nothing but love and hope. Try that on for size and see if it fits you. It’s not about the name of the religion it’s what is in your heart and how you lead your life. That is when it becomes freeing. Thank you again for such kind words. You will find your peace…you will. <3 Hugs…Amy

    Razia….exactly!!! My heart is full because of the freedom. I still have my core beliefs but my mind and heart are so full and so free because they are open to all! It's wonderful. I'm thrilled to hear that you are free as well. Pretty beautiful isn't it!? Thank you for sharing! Hugs to you as well….Amy

  12. Anjuelle Floyd says

    Razia:

    Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.
    I am an out-of-the-box Muslim with a strong bent towards Hinduism and Buddhism. But get this. My kids are Catholic and Buddhist. And my husband is Methodist with a strong dose of Catholicism.
    Our strongest spiritual teacher right now is a Catholic priest.
    And yet I believe everything that Christ taught. I was raised Pentecostal with a Baptist mother.

    I celebrate Christmas, observe Ramadan and Easter, offer 5 prayers daily, an send up dua’s for those who are struggling, take Eucharist, have and do receive spiritual direction from a swami, and presently a Catholic priest.

    For me, God is relationship, family, and doing right by others.

    Amy:
    Thanks so much for writing this article and opening the door to all of us to say who we truly are–each others brother and sister, mother and father–family.
    P.S. I’ve already Tweeted this lovely article.
    Peace and blessings to all.
    Have a wondrous Easter.

  13. Amy Wise says

    Anjuelle,

    I’m sooooo excited to hear that you are so open minded and that your family is literally a gumbo of beliefs. I LOVE it!! No wonder I clicked with you as soon as we met on She Writes. Thank you so much for sharing. Also thank you again for having us on your radio show last weekend. I had such a wonderful time getting to know everyone over the air! Fantastic. Hugs and much love sent to you and your family! Amy

  14. Anjuelle Floyd says

    Amy:

    Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.
    And you are always quite, and very welcome.
    Have a great and wondrous Easter with your handsome husband and exquisitely beautiful daughter.

    Much peace and many, many blessings.

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