Monday, April 20, 2009

Thinking...

I don't talk about religion often on this blog. I guess because for me, it is still a relatively difficult subject.

Religion and God specifically, were a part of my life growing up. They certainly were not a "main part though. We went to church on Sundays and I attended a Catholic school (despite not being Catholic, it was a good school). Family issues and my eventual focus on skating meant that for about 6 years my sister and I rarely went to church, with the exception of holidays. At some point during those 6 years, I went from loving attending church and Sunday school, to dreading having to go.

About the age of 12 or so, my dad felt we needed to start going to church again. However, he wanted to find a new church. This meant that we visited several before he settled on one he liked - but this process was very difficult for my sister and I. As two very shy young girls, we didn't have an easy time fitting in or feeling comfortable in these new environments where we knew no one.

When my dad finally settled on a church, he sent me to Sunday school. My sister didn't go for some reason I don't remember. But I remember how uncomfortable I felt in that Sunday school. It was awful for me. Everyone there already knew each other and they weren't very welcoming. I was made fun of more then once. I hated going. I tried hard to get out of it as often as I could. I hoped my dad wouldn't wake up in time to go. When I was old enough to start attending services, I continued to struggle. Our pastor's sermons were an hour or longer most days. I didn't understand what he was saying half the time and had a hard time paying attention. I had questions that went unanswered and was often too afraid to ask. I struggled.

I struggled up until I went to college. When I got there, I stopped going to church. My boyfriend and I attended a few times, but never found one we liked. I often had the desire to go, but just never could make myself. Laziness and fear I think.

I often told myself when I first went to grad school that I would find a church. And yet I didn't. And that June, I was faced with my father's illness.

Watching my dad struggle as he did through his melanoma diagnosis and treatment significantly impacted me. During the time he was sick, his faith only increased. I certainly prayed more, but I was angry about what was happening to my dad - a good man who believed and tried to live his life the best he could. How could so many people who were unmoral and bad people still be out there living their lives while my dad was faced with the knowledge he was dying and significant suffering?

My dad knew where he was going when he passed, but that didn't make it any easier on me. My pain at having lost him and seeing him suffer - my pain as I grieved and through the events that continued to happen over the next few years. I was angry with God and angry at life. I began questioning more and more. And I could never find the answers to my questions. I became very cynical. And that seems to be where I am stuck.

Going to church since my father passed always makes me feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and brings tears to my eyes. I don't like to go. So, I don't.

I can't say I'm necessarily comfortable with where I am right now, but I also don't know how to change where I am at. B tries hard. He is very knowledgeable about religion and tries to talk to me every day about things. To help me understand. To help me find my way back. Sometimes I am in the mood to listen, others I question what he says (I can't help myself), and others, I don't want to hear it.

I guess I'm not even sure why I chose to write about this today, but it is a struggle I thought I should share.

17 comments:

Donn24g said...

thanks for sharing, you are surely not alone in your struggle on where religion fits in your life and what it means to you. . .

ann ominous said...

I know that a lot of people , especially some of my friends, would disagree with me in my belief that one does not need an organized Church home to learn about God and see his presence in our lives. But...it's never been in Church that I've felt connected to anything "higher" than me.

When my grandmother and aunt were dying, I was so utterly heartbroken about what it was doing to our family, I went to the horse barn and cried and cried and cried for hours. I sat up in the hay loft and prayed, kind of an'are you even listening' kind of prayer. Exactly as I was yelling in my head at God asking him if it would ever end, all the horses ran across the field kicking up their heels in pure joy of being alive...they had been grazing peacefully in a shadow before. and I just felt suddenly at peace. Like everything would be okay.

And that's how I found myself again...not in a pew, but outside, with my animals.

The way I look at it now is that the Church is the theory..we go there to learn and to further our knowledge. Real life is the practice. Can you live in the real world and find God in the simple things and then live your life accordingly? That's Faith to me....I don't know...just random monday morning babblings before I had my coffee.

Blue said...

hi wolfie,
i'm about to board a plane, so i can't reply with much at this moment, but wanted to thank you for sharing your heart here. it was a good way for me to start this long day. i'll write you later. hugs! ♥

Lora said...

(hugs)

I think all who are honest will tell you that it's not always easy to believe, or participate.

Oddly enough, that's what our focus was at church yesterday. Our pastor spoke about how John the Baptist--who leaped for job in the womb in Jesus' presence--still doubted when the chips were down. He told us that a lot of church leaders in history have tried to gloss over the doubting part, but that he thinks it's important to know that it's beyond normal to have these feelings.

His point was that it's ok...but don't dwell in the doubt. I'm not sure exactly how NOT to dwell in the doubt, but I think you'll find your way. Everyone has a different journey. Yours will lead you in the way (and time) that's right for you.

He'll wait.
:0)

hellosweetworld said...

I agree with ann ominous and think that you don't necesarily need to go to church to believe. Things work out in their own way and the way they're meant for you. I had a similar experience with not being accepted at church when i was younger, as i went to a rival high school, and then was even blamed for not making friends.

I think as long as you do good things in life and are a good person, you'll be where you need to be.

FROGGITY! said...

thanks for expressing that! you're totally normal to feel that way, and we all have doubting moments.

hope you don't mind me throwing my 2 cents in.

hubby and i joined a church a couple of years ago that we just could not get comfortable in. as a newlywed couple it was 'our first church.' it was big and pretty but filled with somewhat cold people. we didn't attend a lot and i never felt good about that. i missed the 'community of believers.' i couldn't understand why we couldn't find our niche in that church.

then we moved. now we are in a church that is warm, small (but growing), accepting (we have people who attend that are admittedly not even christians... yet! :)... and there are a lot of searching and faithful people in the pews. we have all backgrounds, all colors, lots of different faces. and it (although the building is not beautiful) is the most gorgeous thing i have ever seen. i see jesus in this place. (don't get me wrong, we're not perfect, but that's okay... we're trying!)

christianity is mysterious. lots of things happen and we don't know why. jesus invites us to ask him the hard questions and trust him to answer them. and believe me, i have tested him thousands of times, cried out in anguish lots, and he always comforts me and brings me back when i've gone astray. it hasn't been easy... but it is comforting to know he's there.

i guess my biggest fear about being a christian is that someone is going to think that i am 'just following the crowd.' i am not. i have given this great thought and i chose it willingly.

i hope this helped... sorry it's such a lengthy comment. i hope you find a situation you can be comfortable in ... don't give up, it's out there.

Van said...

I could relate with your Sunday School story. When I was young - we moved a lot. I always felt uncomfortable going to Sunday School. I also didn't like having to go to a new school either- but my parenets made me go to school and church was no different. There were important lessons to be learned in both places. Today I am glad my parents introduced me to Jesus. I am glad I know Him personally, because if I judged him by his friends- the humans I know who follow Him I would be way off track. Jesus is love, light, perfect, compassion, sacrificial, understanding, forgiver, our advocate. No one is like him. Finding a church where you can be comfortable is not easy - mainly becuase the church is made up of human beings who aren't perfect. Church is like a hospital. It is a place for the hurting, the broken hearted, those who are looking for purpose in life. Church is not a museum - a place filled with gorgeous artwork, stately statues,and perfected works. If church is hard why not try a Bible Study? The one thing that has helped me most in my spiritual walk has been to attend an exciting Bible study with a group of fun women.That has made all the difference in my life. There I learned what God says about true religion. I am going to pray that you find a study in your community. Meanwhile - keep seeking and asking the hard questions.

Jennifer said...

I wish I had as well thought out and written comment as Ominous, but she said basically what I wanted to say. I am sorry about your father. What a tough thing to go through for you.

Yaya said...

I know what you mean, the battle with religion. I'm the same way. Through infertility and miscarriages I keep asking myself, if there is a God then why is He letting this happen to me??
We've stopped going to church. We've stopped fully believing in anything.
And I'm okay with that.

Life with Kaishon said...

The thing I love about church is that it is a place I can go to make sure I am centered. It is SO easy in this world to get focused on things that don't matter; Money, possesions, status etc. When I go to church I remember that I am living for a higher purpose. Some churches are about tradition and show and then there are some churches where they really care. I love those kinds of churches. Our church has a whole class for people that come but DON'T believe. It is for skeptics. I think that is so nice. They are saying, come as you are, with all of your doubts and fears and ideas and we will share God with you. I wish you lived near me because we could go together. I am sorry about the loss of your father.

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

I've struggled with religion my whole life. I'm thinking about it more now that my mother was just diagnosed with leukemia. I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school when there were still nuns, got turned off and have gone to many churches over the years, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, most recently Baptist, because I am in Virginia. I even invited Jehovah's Witnesses in the house because I have an open mind and wanted to hear what they had to say.

I am still turned off religion. Like I just said on Blue Collar Gal's blog, when the pastor in the Baptist church down the road, a man who I love and who has been kind to me, said that gay people were evil and we should pray for them, I cringed. My heart was broken--my little girl was sitting right beside me. How was I going to explain to her such hate and ignorance?

All the churches I've gone to in my life, I really like the Unitarian Universalist. They are kind and good and tolerant and they have a little hippie streak.

I don't worry if there's a heaven or hell. If there's a heaven, I know I'll be going because I am good. But I have to admit, having religion gives you comfort when you lose loved ones. I wonder if that's why we humans got ourselves religion? I worry about that now that my mother is sick. But I don't want to turn to religion out of desperation or fear.

I'm sorry to hear about your Dad.

www.GreenerPastures--ACityGirlGoesCountry.blogspot.com

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Oops, I meant to check off follow up e-mails because I want to follow this conversation.

I also meant to add that a bunch of bloggers have been talking about religion lately. I wonder why?

kel said...

I'm also struggling to find my way with religion. I have very liberal views and find it hard to feel comfortable with my beliefs in a church group. I feel attacked. Maybe I am not, but I feel that way. And judged. But I am searching for my way and hope to find some light. I hope you do to.
Great post. I never post about religion because I am afraid of being attacked!

Cindy said...

Thanks for sharing your feelings. I thought that's why a lot of us do this, bloggy thing
:)

The Blonde Duck said...

Thanks for sharing! Faith and family is a strange mixture. It's hard to figure out where we stand compared to what we need now and what we were raised with.

Carla said...

Aren't you brave, and very REAL!?!
When I'm overwhelmed, I schedule time to be alone and talk to God.
When I doubt (anything-or everything), I go back to what I know, and again, talk to God. He cares, always.
Many blessings to you in your journey:)

heidi @ wonder woman wannabe said...

What a wonderful honest and genuine display of your heart.

I'm so sorry you've had such a rough time of it. Many people just view the church as a building that they go to to worship...Church is supposed to be 'the body of Christ' and It's so unfortunate that you have not experienced that as Christ intended.

It took me a while before I found a church body that really understood that and the people acted in that way.

I've found that smaller churches are better at practicing this. Also, house churches are a new movement that may minister to you better...have you heard?

http://www.house2house.com/

Also, a book that really spoke to me during a rough period in my life:
"Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On"
~trusting God in the Tough Times~
by Stormie Omartian

Come visit my blog sometime, if you like. A friend of mine will be guest posting on suffering and hope very soon.

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