Religion. That’s a loaded word. It’s something that people have devoted their lives to, lost their lives for, or spend their lives resenting and denying. It’s always one of the three things that are socially unacceptable to openly ask an individual: religion, age, and political view.
Regardless of who reads this and what your religious values are, what I say is completely of my own experience and view. It doesn’t represent the whole religious body but instead just one tiny individual who is lost in a sea of the religious.
I grew up in a Christian home. My parents came to know Christ shortly before I was born. I grew up in church. Biblical stories and values were spoon-fed to me growing up and drilled into my head. So much so that they became solid cold facts. Clinical. Jesus is the Son of God. Fact. Jesus loves me. Fact. Jesus died for my sins because I am a sinner. Fact. There was no emotional connection and no real depth to what I was hearing. It was like being told the world was round and believing it and never questioning if it was square or triangular-shaped.
When I was eight, my dad was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. That was the first time I prayed to God on my own. I bargained with God that if He let my dad live and play with me again I would be the best girl that I could be. Although I don’t remember much about the process and my dad’s numerous and long hospital stays, I distinctly remember writing a note saying “God bless you” to his neighbour in the hospital room. I truly believed that there was a God.
When I turned thirteen, I began to question things. I questioned God and God’s role in my life. What being a Christian meant. If I was a Christian or not. The existence of God. The concept of Heaven and Hell. The authenticity of the Bible. I explored other religions. Everything that I had believed as a child growing up was questioned. And I struggled. I struggled a lot. I struggled with acknowledging Christ in my life, I struggled with living like a Christian and I struggled with growing up. I went through phases of fervent praying and searching for the “spiritual high” and phases of not caring about God at all. My life was a disaster.
For three years I struggled with the concept of spirituality. And I was as empty-handed as when I started. My life had a hole in it and I was missing something. I guess that’s why I got my first boyfriend. He gave me that high that I was searching for in God and had not found. In many ways he changed my life and my outlook on life itself. Especially religion. He was not a religious person, he identified himself as atheist actually. This didn’t sit well with my family or the church.
Although I was aware that all humans are sinners, and screw up and are never perfect, it still was a complete shock to know that the pastor was gossiping about me to the congregation. I felt that everyone was judging me and thought much less of me than before. I guess I took this as a way to no longer feel obligated to conform to being the “good girl” and just turn away from much of my old life. I was disappointed that someone that I looked up to had failed me.
I lost interest in church altogether. And I lost interest in God. Having that occur was a real turn-off for me to the Christian religion. There was nothing left that was appealing to me about the religion anymore. I gave up on trying to find God. And I guess I gave up on myself too. I hated myself for losing so much for a boy. We ended up breaking up a year later.
After that I switched to a whole new friend group. I did things that I probably shouldn’t have done. Drugs. Partying. Boys. Lying. Sneaking out. Sneaking home. Everything that I thought I would never do, I did. Everything that I knew was morally wrong and unchristian, I explored.
That takes me to where I am now. It’s been two years since the church disappointed me. I think it’s time to forgive try to move on from what happened. It’s unfortunate that it happened, and it’s unfortunate that it happened when I was struggling immensely with my faith. Maybe it’s time to give Christianity another shot. Another real chance. As much as I know what it means sacrifices, such as instead of partying on Friday’s with my res, I’ll be going to fellowship – maybe it’s time I started searching. Really searching. Because life is too awful to tackle alone. Maybe I really do need God in my life.