Let’s pause for a moment because it’s key that we understand that most Black men at this point in time will stop. They will stop looking for answers, they will resolve that their relationship with God doesn’t make sense and they feel a disconnect. Growing up like many Black men, I observed that older Black men didn’t go to church. They believed in God but it wasn’t until they were late in age that they returned to the church. I put them in that category that Bill Cosby talks about when he said, “That’s an old person trying to get into heaven.” That wasn’t for me, it wouldn’t be adequate. The small child who climbed into his grandmother’s bed and asked, “Gruma, what you reading?” needed answers.

I only knew one thing and that was prayer. I prayed and I asked God a question that I didn’t think believers should ever ask. I asked God, “Why?”

In prayer, I found a deeper relationship building. I always thought that God was a close friend of mine. That we could talk about anything and I could truly be myself; so I asked all my questions.

What if someone was in a part of the world where there were no information about You or Your great love for us? Why is it us against them? How could a God who claims to love us all not be known by all? How can I be in love with a God who believes heaven and hell? Hell always bothered me because I didn’t believe in the concept that everlasting love could ever do that to a believer.

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In prayer, I found answers. God showed me that I needed to know that most of religion was created by man, it wasn’t him. God showed me that he was truly in love with all. God showed me that he is a god of love and understanding. After many days of prayer, I didn’t tell anyone but I had grown so much and I knew what I believed.

I had visited my Shack. I had my moment when everything made sense for me.

I watched a commercial on the USA network and in it an Indian woman said, “I believe in all paths to God.” I don’t know why that commercial that I may have seen ten years ago has stayed with me so long, but it has. That’s exactly what I believe! That’s what resonates in me. I can’t believe in a God that doesn’t love Muslims, Jews or Buddhists. I could only believe in a God that examined the hearts of all and if they had love in their heart, they would be granted the gifts that God had for me. I loved the story of Jesus and I felt (much like a character in The Shack) that if someone didn’t know God and his love, I would rather them to go to Heaven before me. Surely if a person was a good person then they deserve to feel that love and I would sacrifice myself for them.

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I decided that for me, meditation and deep thought worked better for my relationship with God. I would read my Bible, but I also felt drawn to read the texts of other faiths. I became a disciple of my spirituality, instead of a disciple of just one faith.

Every now and then, I return to those moments that would be best described as my Shack. Honestly I’ll admit I may not do it weekly, but I try.

What’s most important to note is that many Black men decide to stunt or stop their faith and spirituality, but I didn’t. My questions and my insecurity led me closer to God and my spirituality. I tell my friends and those I do not know that I don’t think it’s important that you affiliate with a particular denomination as long as you believe in selfless love. That you believe in the betterment of the Earth and this universe. Even if you don’t believe in a being such as God that you believe that while on Earth you must be a loving member to humanity.

That’s where The Shack took me. That’s what it reminded me to do. To take time to remind myself that I’m not idle in my faith, but my faith is growing. I’m reminded that it’s not up to me to judge, but to have an undying love for all. For me to give myself as a tool for inspiration and motivation, but as an active member of God’s plan. I often ask many Christians, “If there was no promise of eternal life, would you still believe in God?” It’s interesting to hear the responses. I know for myself that I wouldn’t change a thing, not one thing. Walking this path isn’t about the path of eternal life – it’s about understanding your connection with the universe. It’s about understanding that your soul is rooted in spirituality and not in religion. I believe that’s where many go wrong and I’ve chosen not to go wrong.