It’s been over five years since I wrote about my crisis of faith, so thought I’d do an update.
I really wish it was a happily-ever-after, all-tied-up-with-a-bow story, like in a book or the movies, but unfortunately real life isn’t like that.
So today I’m coming out of the spiritual closet to tell you the truth: I haven’t found any resolution. If anything, I’m more confused and have more questions than ever!
I haven’t set foot in a church since that blog post, except for a funeral and a couple of visits with the in-laws.
On the odd occasion that we bump into people we know from our church days, the question always comes up: “So where are you guys going to church these days?”
The husbear has a quick reply: “The Church of the Reclamation”.
It sounds so legit – like it might be an Anglican church or something! But as he then goes on to explain, “The reclamation of Sunday morning sleep ins!” (And don’t we treasure it, every single week!)
No More Church
Speaking of church, this is one of the things that I find particularly sad. For 20+ years we went to the same church, and were very active and involved (to the detriment of our family, I sometimes think). We thought of our fellow church members as family, and bent over backwards to make others feel welcome.
Yet despite all that, I have just one friend left from our church (she left a long time before we did). That’s it. ONE. One friendship to show for 20+ years.
I did try to maintain some friendships after we left, but they have long since faded. Guess that they’re all just too busy with church, they don’t have time for us now we’re not part of it. It’s not a great look for the church now is it?!
I’m still Facebook friends with quite a few, but that’s as far as it goes.
So when I saw on Facebook recently that our old church had a special service to celebrate their 30th birthday, I was kind of taken aback.
Our invite must have got lost in the mail!
After all, we did attend the very first service as newlyweds (though it was another five years before we started going regularly).
During our time in that church we served in various positions, ministries and committees. The husbear was a board member, longest serving sound technician, and on the building committee, not to mention faithfully attending working bees to keep the church grounds looking tidy. I was a ladies group leader, singer, greeter at the door, and minutes secretary for the board. Together, we led a cell group – to name just a few of the ways we participated over the years.
We gave endlessly of our time and our money – and for what?
I know I know, we didn’t do it for the church, we did it for God! Guess we’ll have nice sparkly crowns in heaven – if it exists, and if we end up there.
What I Believe
So what do I believe these days?
I believe there is a God, or higher power – but I think it is incredibly arrogant for anybody or any religion to claim they have the only answer.
I believe there is a lot more to the spiritual realm than what we know and understand.
I look at the wonders and intricacies of creation, and know that there must have been somebody or something behind it all.
I believe that a person called Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago, and maybe he was the son of God – but I think his followers have gone wide of the mark.
I question why all that’s been left to guide his followers, is an outrageously outdated book (the Bible).
I fail to see God in an organisation (the church) that treats more than half of its members (women) as second class citizens.
When I consider all that goes on – I’m left wondering, where is the love?!
Because if nothing else, God should be love.
Where is the Love?!
I’m reminded of the time my massage therapist was a bit upset. She is a lovely, gentle woman who really cares about her clients – as part of that caring, she sometimes offers an “angel card reading” at the end of the session.
The first time she asked me, I decided to say yes – even though it went against what the church had always told me. And guess what?! God didn’t smite me with lightning!
Seriously though, she held out some cards and asked me to pick out one that I felt drawn to. Along with a beautiful image of an angel, there was a corresponding text which she then read out to me.
It was something sweet and positive, encouraging and uplifting.
I appreciated the gesture and her care.
So I was really sad when she told me that another client, a “Christian”, had basically ripped her a new one when she offered it, before launching into a diatribe about how it was evil blah blah blah.
Did this other client not see my massage therapist’s heart?
Did she not realise that it came from a spirit of love and generosity?
What a slap in the face to such a gentle soul! No wonder she was upset. She couldn’t understand it.
She certainly didn’t see love.
If this client felt it was against her personal beliefs – fair enough. But wouldn’t it have been far better to just say “no thank you” politely, and leave it at that?
And yet – if it had been offered as an “inspiration” or “encouragement” card (which is all it really was), it would have been acceptable.
I felt so angry on behalf of the many innocents like her, who have been wounded by Christians.
So I’m coming out of the spiritual closet: I don’t know if I would call myself a Christian anymore.
In fact I don’t know what I would call myself!
I’m just a gal who is muddling through life the best she can. Who is very aware of her faults and failings. Who tries to love and care for others, but is realising that it’s okay to do things for herself too.
I look back on the woman I was, and I think that while she meant well, she was incredibly naive.
While I think the church and others benefited from her Christian beliefs, I’m not sure they served her particularly well.
It’s kind of scary putting this out there. Not everybody is going to understand, some might even be horrified, but that’s okay. It’s just where I’m at right now.
How about you?!
Facts Only says
Yah that’s fair. The ‘inner circle’ is still very cult like to this day, no matter which church. I think you always get more out of it (spiritually and socially) just attending the service each Sunday and having chats with other ‘non-inner circle’ friends, despite the church always guilt tripping everyone to assist.
TLDR: The ‘inner circle’ are all snobs, prove me wrong.
I am so sorry you both have been treated this way Janet (although I can not say I’m overly surprised). That’s really sad your family put so much time & effort into an organisation that clearly did not appreciate it.
Your view on the church & organised religion now aligns with mine 🙂
Janet I wholeheartedly agree with you. “Christianity” these days is not even close to what we grew up with. It feels very nasty and cult like. I have a few friends left over from my kids’ Lutheran school days, and they really embody the Christianity that I know. Other than that, I don’t think of God so much these days, as the “Universe” and everything that entails. What we can see, and (mostly) what we cannot. I try to be a good human. I try to be self aware and continue to grow as a person. I remind myself of my core values. I try to lead with empathy and compassion. That’s all any of us can do.
I thought your blog was very interesting, Janet. I used to go to church as a youngster but didn’t feel right for me as I got older and so stopped. I believe in God and class myself as spiritual but not religious. I say prayers, mainly of gratitude. I believe there is more to the universe than what we know and I find it truly magical and wondrous. I think you are wonderful the way you are.
As a happily recovered Catholic of many years, this really resinates with me. Thank you for speaking what so many of us are feeling.
Jenni Liddell says
I believe in a higher power but not in religion itself. I think it is man made and man has made the rules to suit himself. Especially the male dominant religions ie Catholic….
Merry Christmas Janet to you and your family xxx
Well done??. I know alot of people who spend their week being very unchristian and then toddle off to church on Sunday being holier than thou and criticising those who don’t attend. Makes my blood boil. ?
I don’t believe in a god, never have, I had to many questions and was removed from my Religious instruction class more than once. Having said that I have allowed my children the choice and all have said. I after dabbling in it but finding the teachings even from a young age didn’t sit right.
But I do believe in a collective energy of love. My kids tell me I’m very spiritual but I don’t understand the church, it’s a cult for me. I do believe Jesus existed but I’m not sure he was more than a kind bloke seeking to change the world without any thought of gain ; which was unheard of in the day. I believe they supernaturalised his existence for political and financial gain. However faith and the belief of god is so important to many, some do good with it others use it in vain. That comes down to personality and values not god. I respect all who choose to follow the church because whilst it’s not important to me, it is to them and I respect that.
God if that’s what the collective energy must be called is also not in a church he is every where. They are accessible to everyone, regardless of who they are or what they are done. They also do not get to choose who goes to heaven and who doesn’t. They do not get to give one child cancer, kill one good parent and tell the people there is a lesson in that. That doesn’t follow the guidelines of Christianity that’s arrogance beyond cruel.
Having said that being without faith is to me unsettling however my faith is not god. It’s a deep sense of wanting to show kindness, and understanding for my fellow human. It’s wanting my hopefully good energy to spread and we in turn evolve to become better humans for both us and the plant.. that’s my religion.
My family and community my guiding light.
Anyway. The back lash will come.
Hmmm.. that was more than I intended but its not easy and you will find your way.
Susan D says
Hi Janet, Haven’t seen you for years but have kept up through your newsletter. Am entirely with you on the faith/religion subject.
I do still do believe in the collective power of prayer and what used to truly shock me about Sunday services was that terrible things are always in the news and here was an opportunity to pray about events – never a mention. The straw that broke …. was the war in Syria. The lack of compassion etc. was gobsmacking.