Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Faith Part I

This is my cool coming back to church story. I will preface it with a very short version... okay a not so very short version of why I left. Have any of you notice I like to talk a lot. People tell me that.. hmm.. I have been Catholic, Agnostic, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Evangelical and now apparently Episcopalian. Who knew? My mom grew up evangelical... holy hands, speaking in tongues the holy spirit etc. As you all may know my mom was married very young (15) and dad (17). When she and my dad moved on their own they decided, well I guess my mom decided that it is important not to force children to go to church and practice any specific religion. I think, due to childhood experiences on my mom's part she had(s) certain issues with the church, doctrines etc. -Although that is my mom's story, so I will let her tell it. I went to catholic school from the time I was in kindergarten to 6th grade. It was the best schooling in my town. Of course I wanted to fit in with the other children so I went through the act of baptism and I think even confirmation. After 6th grade I attended public school and Catholicism went out the window. In my teenage years I refuted the mere existence of God and took to exploring many spiritual beliefs. My aunt is how do I say... eccentric to say the least. She introduced me to Buddhism, Hinduism, Witchcraft, Native American Spiritualism just to name a few. Nothing fit.

When I was a junior in High School my parents were going through the toughest time in their marriage. This eventually led to divorce and one of the most difficult times in my life. My mom started participating in a non-denominational church and I met a group of kids from our local Baptist church with a really great youth group. This was a very dark time in my life and and their promise of happiness and salvation intrigued me. I dove in head first to the Baptist church. It wasn't long before I was accepting Jesus into my heart, going to church 4 times a week and preaching the good word to all that would listen. Jump to senior year of HS and my acceptance into the Art Institute of Boston (Great school if any of you know about art) and my deposit for Fall 1998. Hold the phone. This is me forfeiting my deposit and applying to Liberty University because it is not Godly for me to go to a secular school. Actually, it is not Godly for me to be an artist because it is too much of the secular world and not God's will. Fall 1998. I am now in Lynchburg, VA signing away my life for the next year. No rated R movies, no cursing of any kind, no holding hands on campus, no pants, no art...This list goes on! I have always felt that church, faith etc. is the foundation of who I am. Everything I learned as a child/teenager has prepared me to make good moral decisions in my adulthood. I had a very difficult time with the idea of taking away all of our choices right at the time we should be putting the teachings of God to practical use.

I do not wish to offend anyone, I truly believe that everyone is on their own journey, but (come on you knew there was a but) in my experience this year of my life was terrible. I feel like I was in a cult... I was not allowed to express my own feelings. I felt the hypocrisy ran rampant. God's people failed me time and time again. I felt abandoned, judged, abused, beaten and hurt. All in all the experience turned me away from not only the church, but from God. It sealed the deal on religion for me. I wanted no part of God, spirituality, a communion of people.

It is now 2008. Wow, 10 long years! 6 months ago I started going to ACOA. I have been in and out of the rooms over the years, but have never stayed long. When I came back to the Program in July I finally realized how unmanageable my life had become. I am no longer in my early 20's and can not blame my mess on just being young. I am almost 29 years old and I finally realize that its time to make some changes, time to like myself, and time to give this God thing another try. It has been a long and difficult road. Over the last several months I have taken a new perspective on God, on my spirituality... on the bible, and Jesus, and church and all the things I thought I believed. I have come to see that I was not angry at God... I was angry at the people. And people are only human. They do the best they can. With this revelation my ability to trust in God continues to grow. Three weeks ago I decided to check out the church down the street. It is Episcopalian. Although I don't agree with everything I am taking the "take what you like and leave the rest" approach. My relationship with my HP is growing and He will take care of the rest.

Okay, so I want to take some time and gather my thoughts about my new found faith. to be continued...

Today I am grateful for:

Home ACOA meeting
Steps 1,2,3
The opportunity to use my Graphic Design skills at work today.
Spending Christmas with my sisters
The Christmas gift I bought my sister. She is going to love it
Prayer and Mantras that get me through the days
My mom's patience with me
Yummy tuna salad... I made some last night for dinner and had leftover today. I could eat it for wa week straight
Feeling genuinely happy this afternoon.


big Jenn said...

I am not religios at all, but I am very spiritual. Religions are invented by men, and dogma generally pisses me off. So any time I try a different church, the people in it get in between me and my faith and I get all screwed up. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school too. I do like the idea of take what you need and leave the rest. A group of people praying is a powerful thing.
It sounds like this is a very positive move for you and that is good. We all need connection. That's what is really important.jeNN

Cat said...

Kristen, like you I left organized religion ages ago - probobly 10 years actually - and I have been contemplating attending a service or two just to see how I feel about it.

I apprecaite your blog on this subject. I am hesitant so it helps to read your story.