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It is my job to make others serve, love, and befriend others. It is my job to make sure that others are doing things the right way. It is my job to make sure that others feel guilt if they aren’t doing it the way I feel they should. It is my job to make sure that others are praying the right way and about the right things. It is my job to make sure that others aren’t listening to the wrong music or watching the wrong things.  It is my job to make sure others aren’t messing up. It is my job to warn others. It is my job to hurt others when they need it. It is my job to demand perfection of others.

And thus we see the very different kinds of people inside of religion.

Since I left the church, it is as clear as night and day which people are which. Both with those who practice Mormonism, and those who practice other faiths.

Those who use their religion to better themselves and their spirituality never once have insisted that I should be doing things differently or that I am wrong in my new beliefs. They don’t cast judgments on me. They don’t place themselves on some pedestal. They don’t leave the room if I talk about my current life or lifestyle. They don’t roll their eyes. They don’t grunt and groan. They don’t “bite their lip” and “put up with me” until I’m gone. They don’t gossip about me. They don’t do any of that.

They don’t need to. They understand that to do any of that would go against what they are working to achieve within their religions. They understand that happiness doesn’t come from such things. And they understand that love will always prevail.

But then there are the people who use religion to be better than those both inside of and outside of their religion. They somehow believe that you and I are part of their own equation. They somehow believe that by trying to make us live up to their expectations, they will have succeeded in something; what, I don’t know. They put on the façade of perfection, and they demand the same from everyone else. They aren’t weak. They don’t have flaws. And their love for you and me is either partially or completely predicated on our ability to live within their expectations.

They feel better about themselves, their lives, and their salvation if they put constant pressure on others. Guilt, they feel, is a great motivator for others. So is withholding support. So is withholding love. They feel good knowing that they are “chosen” or one of the “elite” who will make it into heaven when they do these things.

And here is the greatest tragedy of all… It is this second group who usually gets the opportunity to feel “good enough” (how could they not when they spend their lives convincing themselves and others that they are close to perfect?), and it is also this second group who makes it impossible for those in the first group to ever feel good enough. No matter how well they are doing or how hard they try, the first group will rarely feel like they are achieving much of anything in their own progression and growth because the second group always makes sure they can’t.

In the end, I looked at the people of my church and realized that (at least where I live) happiness couldn’t exist for me. As much good as the church currently does in the world and for its members, the possibility didn’t exist for me to work on myself and my own spirituality and ever feel like it was good enough or like I was going down a straight enough path. There were just too many “perfect” people around me. I had to free myself in order to be myself.

But enough about those inside of religion. Let’s talk about the two kinds of people outside of religion for a moment, because it’s just as important a discussion to have.

And it’s eerily similar in nature.

Outside of religion, there are those who work to better themselves and be better human beings. And, there are those who work to prove they are somehow better than others.

There are those who spend their lives trying to find truth. They find the places where their spirituality will develop and thrive. They serve others. They love others. They are kind. They sing. They dance. They are nonjudgmental.

Being in or out of a religion doesn’t affect the way these people treat others. They don’t care what spiritual and religious beliefs others have, so long as those people are happy and don’t try to force their beliefs onto them. They are supportive of the beliefs of others and they don’t feel a need to prove how right they are in their beliefs and how wrong others are in theirs.

They don’t need to. They understand that to do any of that would go against what they are working to achieve in their own lives. They understand that happiness doesn’t come from such judgments or actions. And they understand that love will always prevail.

But then there are those non-religious people who use their beliefs to become better than others both inside and outside of religion. They somehow believe that you and I are part of their own equation. They somehow believe that by making us live up to their expectations, they will have succeeded in something; what, I don’t know. They put on the façade of perfection, and they demand the same beliefs from everyone else. They aren’t weak. They don’t have flaws. And their love for you and me is either partially or completely predicated on our ability to live within their expectations.

They feel better about themselves and their lives if they put constant pressure on others. Guilt, they feel is a great motivator for others. So is withholding support. So is withholding love. They feel good knowing that they aren’t “religious suckers” who will live or believe just about anything that is put in front of them.

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with more than 2 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!