I've gotta take a minute to give a shout-out to God.
I know I don't write about my faith much here, but I've got a strong one. I guess I just don't feel the need to talk about it all the time. I believe how I live my life (raps and passive-aggressive cartooning aside), along with acknowledging that I'm a Christian, is a much better witness than spouting a bunch of fancy words to prove how holy I am and how unholy other people are. I know that I'm turned off by holier-than-thou folks, so I can only assume it makes nonbelievers throw up in their mouths a little.
I know I'm opinionated, and I don't mean to dis other Christians who feel differently. It's just that for me, being a good person and attributing the good stuff to God is how I spread the message. I think it's more effective to reach people where they are than it is to preach from the heights.
I'm just grateful for God's forgiveness. I don't deserve it, but I'm forgiven anyway. Even if I'm having an I Suck marathon, and I can't forgive myself for screwing up, God forgives me like a parent forgives a wayward child. Seeing God as a father makes me believe in his ability to forgive everything. Human parents do it all the time. If we forgive our children's bad behavior without a second thought, how much more forgiving is God?
My view of God as our father also prevents me from believing that people who don't believe like I do are going to hell. I believe Christians are going to heaven. I also believe that Jews and Muslims are going to heaven. We have the same God--but different interpretations of what He expects from us. If God is our father, I'm pretty sure He wants us with Him. God's not a deadbeat dad. I don't think he's trying to keep us out of heaven.
Which is why I also believe that nonbelievers can get to heaven. I believe God gives each of us every possible chance to believe in Him. What if, when we die, God appears to us, and gives us the choice to become His own even if we didn't choose that during our time on earth? This possibility isn't a reason to put off getting to know God--it's just something to consider for people of faith who are certain that atheists and agnostics are going to hell.
What about the fate of people who die by suicide, like my brother? I don't believe that God punished his hurting and hopeless 15-year-old self with eternal suffering in hell. I believe my brother's spirit repented and asked God's forgiveness for not being able to stick it out, and that God had compassion for His child and was merciful.
I am convinced that there's so much that we don't know. And I feel just as strongly that not knowing everything is perfectly OK. None of us has all the answers.
But God does.
And even if we don't always have faith in Him, He always has faith in us.