Although I was raised Catholic, and raised to believe in God, there was a time in my young adult life when I seriously questioned what I really believed. Did I really believe in God? Did I really buy all this religion stuff? Did the Catholic Church make any sense?
I questioned everything, but in questioning, it began to bring me to some solid answers and certainly put me on the path to real faith. But before I could get to where I am now, I had to answer the fundamental question - do I believe in God?
Eventually I came to the conclusion that yes, yes I do believe there is a God. I even made the leap that yes, I believe in Jesus and the God of Christianity. And eventually, my questioning led me home to Catholicism.
I think it goes back to our purpose, the reason this infinite, all knowing, all powerful, and ever loving God decided to make creatures like us in the first place. He wanted someone like Him, insofar as they are able to turn towards Him, and love Him back. To have a relationship with Him. To be His friend.
To this end, I think we were all created with an innate need to be connected to God. There is a hole, if you will, inside us all (and I know I'm not unique in describing it this way). There is only one thing that can fill that hole - the love of God. A relationship with God. A connection to Him.
But we're selfish, often confused creatures. And we seem to think we can do everything on our own, our way. We try to fill that hole with other things, convinced that it will do the trick, that we will find fulfillment somewhere else. It is easy to name the destructive things we use - drugs, money, power, alcohol, sex. But vices aren't the only things we attempt to plug ourselves with, to assuage the emptiness inside. Spouses, children, volunteer work, careers, hobbies - things that are fine in and of themselves, but don't take the place of God.
Some people feel the emptiness of that hole. They are always looking for something to fill it, always searching for fulfillment. They might climb the career ladder, travel to new places, buy bigger and better homes and cars, have more children, or throw themselves into raising the children they already have. But nothing is ever good enough, never "more" enough. They're always searching for the next thing that will surely bring the fulfillment they are after.
Other people try to dull the hole, make it's presence less sharp. They try to drown the hole with alcohol or drugs, try to bury it in food. They try to escape it by jumping out of airplanes or riding mountain bikes down ski slopes. They seek to leave it behind by escaping into anything that will dull the reality of the ever present aching, a longing they can't understand or put an end to.
And some people are so good at ignoring the hole, they deny it's very existence. They have convinced themselves that real happiness doesn't exist, that the purpose of life is simply to get by without being too miserable. If you asked them if they feel unfulfilled, they wouldn't understand the question, or would deny feeling so. They've turned so far away from their spiritual needs, they hardly remember they exist.
We all have that hole, it's built in. And there's only one thing that fills it. As hard as we try to fill it with other things, none of them will do. I've tried my share. I've only come to feel the beginnings of that kind of fulfillment, of true contentment, since I've began attempting to follow God's will for me, to connect myself to Him. There, in turning towards Him, stretching out our hands to meet His, can we find what we've been searching for. I'm beginning to realize it can't be bought, it can't be earned, it can't be found anywhere else. It's all in Him. It's what we were made for.
So why do I believe in God? Why did I take that leap? Because deep in my soul I long for Him and I think everyone does, they just don't realize it. And I've found that the fulfillment I was seeking for so long was right there all along. I just had to turn around and accept it.