On one of the online dating profiles I have, the question is asked, "What is the most private thing you're willing to admit?"
My answer is, "Nuns hate me."
(In the context of an online dating site, it totally works. It gives people an opener. "Why do nuns hate you?" is a frequent question. Useful for me, too, because if they tack on an "lol" I know not to bother responding.)
Between a short stint at private school, religious education at a Roman Catholic church, and (for reasons having zero to do with religion) four years at a Catholic college, I was exposed to religion pretty consistently from the time I was five through my early twenties.
The one lesson that was clear through all this education: Nuns, do in fact, hate me.
I remember once asking my dad why that might be. His theory was that nuns prefer that people (especially kids) just take everything at face-value. Kids should do as they're told, believe what they hear (from the church), and not question anything.
My problem, he said, was I questioned everything.
I wasn't belligerent (at least, I don't think I was). I just wanted to understand. I liked knowing the whys and the hows about all the whats people were teaching. The problem is, when it comes to faith and religion - wheres and whens are easy, but not so much the whys and hows.
I didn't just believe what they told me or do what they said. If it didn't sound right, I questioned why. If they said God said something was wrong, I wanted to know how they knew. If they pointed to what they believed was proof, I questioned whether or not it might mean something else.
It wasn't that I didn't want to learn, or have faith - I just didn't want to do it on their terms. That, apparently, did not make me endearing.
That's fine. After a brief hiatus from religion and church, I have found a Christian church (not Catholic) that shares a message of a faithful, forgiving God who gives strength and grace to those who ask. I have found a way to have faith and believe and learn without having to compromise who I am.
Which, I believe, is what God really wants - for us all to be the the unique masterpiece he created us to be, and not a carbon-copy of everyone else.
Whether nuns like it or not.