I grew up in a small town in Texas and attended a baptist church as a child. When I was really young I remember all we listened to was Christian music. When I was seven I made the commitment to Jesus and asked him into my heart. I was baptized and had my sins washed away. I continued to go to that church for a while and then one day we just stopped. In my teen years, after we had moved to Oklahoma, I was invited to go to church with the neighbor kids. I started going to that church for a couple years, made some friends and even attended church camp. I remember having a good time at church camp. Then when I met my ex-husband I started going to church with him and his family. I went with him the whole time we were together. After he and I separated I stopped going.
As I had gotten older and into my adult years I started feeling uncomfortable in church. I started to feel judged and like I was a bad person. I had impure thoughts, I used bad language, I was doing things I shouldn’t. The people I went to church with didn’t want to hang out with me. They thought I was weird and beneath them. When my ex and I divorced a lot of bad things all happened at once and I felt like God was punishing me for turning my back on my marriage. It was a year of self hatred and denying myself to be happy in my new relationship.
I grew up in a religion that made me feel wretched. I constantly judged myself and others. I constantly felt like a sinner. I always felt like others could see my sin on my face. I never felt like I fit in with the other Christians because they were better than me, or so I thought. I didn’t feel love, I felt judgement.
I know that not everyone feels this way but this was my experience. I stopped going to church because I was done with all the judgement. I was done feeling like a sinner, I was done with Christians. I needed to accept myself for who I was and accept that the thoughts and feelings I had were okay. The years I spent away from church were the best years of my life.
I no longer felt guilty for everything I did, I felt free to be myself. It was extremely liberating. When anyone would invite me to church I would refuse, I wasn’t going back into a place that fed my anxiety and made me feel like a terrible person. I didn’t want to be around people who, to me, were hypocrites. They were just as filthy as me but they liked to pretend they were better and holier than I was because they went to church every week and gave a good performance in front of other Christians. There was nothing I wanted from them.
I know that for other’s church is a good thing in their life. They have a wonderful experience and they feel like they belong to a group for the first or only time in their life. For some, religion is what saved their life. For some it soothes their worries and makes them feel safe. I don’t want to take that away from them, I believe if you can find comfort in something then it is worth holding on to. But I also believe that if something is toxic for you then you need to stay away from it. I believe that everyone’s spiritual journey is their own and that it is very personal. I don’t believe you need to be accountable to others, only to your god.
Another problem I have with church, mainly Christians, are how the majority of them are kind of terrible people. They are “pro-life” when it comes to a woman keeping a pregnancy, despite the fact that it is her body and she has the right to do what is best for her, (God grants free will, remember?) but are so against people using welfare or not willing to pay more in taxes for healthcare or better education. They want people who can’t afford to have kids to keep their pregnancy but aren’t willing to help them take care of that child. The Bible says love thy neighbor (Mark 12:31) but Christians voted for a president that wants to build a wall to keep our neighbors out to let them suffer. The Bible also tells men if they want to avoid having impure thoughts about a woman they should poke their eyes out (Matthew 5:29) but instead they say it’s the woman’s fault for wearing a tank top in the heat of summer. There is too much judgment and not enough love. The Bible also says God is love (1 John 4:7-21) and that those who know him know love. That doesn’t seem to be the case for a lot of people who call themselves Christians.
There is one church I have given a chance recently, it’s called LifeChurch and the messages are actually pretty relatable. I don’t feel judged when I go in there, everyone is really nice and just happy that you came. It’s a step in the right direction.
When it comes to religion I try to be respectful of what people believe. I don’t tell them they’re wrong or that they’re crazy for believing. I don’t appreciate when someone tries to push their religion down my throat but I also understand if they try to share it with me because that’s what they’re supposed to do. It’s a little cult-ish but whatever. To each their own. I have more respect for people who live by example, though.
I’m still a long way from being completely a part of a church. I honestly don’t think I ever will be. I don’t need religion, I’m not the kind of person who struggles with the origins of existence or what will happen to me when I die. I don’t need a system in place for me to live by to make me feel better about myself. I just do the best I can and do try to be thankful for what I have. My life could be so much worse than it is and I’m thankful that it isn’t. I don’t think it was given to me by an invisible entity, I think I’m just lucky. I refuse to believe that a person is born into poverty and addiction because that is what was given to them. I refuse to believe that children die of cancer because that was God’s will. I will not just accept these things. Millions of people are born in countries where disease and poverty are the norm and live honest lives, and they’re considered lost souls who are going to hell because they just happened to be born on the wrong side of the planet. That’s ridiculous to me.
Well that is my experience with religion. What are your thoughts?
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