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Religion Lost

by P M 2 years ago in religion

Part 1: We were on a break!

[This is the story of my religious journey. It starts deep within religion. I was supposed to be a pastor, a spiritual leader. I started writing this when I first felt that I may walk away from Christianity, but I was still trying to keep my faith. Later on, you notice my shift into a life not bordered by religion. The slight shifting actually happened long before I began writing this. This will be released in many parts.]

~ July, 2017 ~

For most of my life I’ve had a fairly bleak outlook on life. Everything eventually ends. Everyone dies. Most marriages end in divorce. Even money can’t buy happiness. Relationships (even simple friendships!) are messy. Santa Claus is a lie. Hawaii is expensive. Many great bands suck live. Good-looking people are often jerks. The world is just not as it seems.

My cynicism reaches even to my faith. Christianity has never been an easy religion for me to follow. First of all, I don’t really follow. I don’t follow all the rules, I don’t follow other people well, and I usually don’t follow up on projects. For as long as I can remember, I've just been good at doing my own thing.

Christianity has also been hard for me because I question everything. Not to brag—but I was a pretty smart kid growing up. Which usually means that I was a pain-in-the-ass-kid growing up. In Sunday school, I questioned everything the teachers said. Unfortunately, most of the teachers weren’t exactly theologians, and I was not appreciated. I think that was the real reason why I was sent to help in the nursery—not because I was great with kids. I had one Children’s Pastor that really didn’t like me. Some of it may have to do with my little “pranks” and smart ass-ness. For example: every time he said, “Everyone grab a chair!” I would literally just grab and hold a chair until he told me to sit in it, or he would send me to my parents in “big church.”

It was frustrating having theological questions at church that no one wanted to answer. It was more frustrating to not be taken seriously. Of course, the common answers were, "You just need to have faith that it's true." But sometimes it was, "When you're older you can research and find out yourself!" So I did. I read books on theology when I was in high school. Then I attended a Bible college, and had even more questions to answer.

In that theological, academia world people are more likely to be interested in those question and answer games. But, when you go home and talk with people at church, or even your parents, the riddles are not taken so fondly. I think most people are afraid of questioning their faith. They're afraid to go too deep down the proverbial rabbit hole, maybe to never return.

"Questioning too much shows your lack of faith!"

"I just read the Bible and listen to what my pastor says. That's enough for me."

"If God wanted us to know, He would tell us."

I can't understand why having questions is so taboo. Many times, my questions were met with odd looks and silence, until someone changed the subject. One time I asked, "Why did Jesus have to come to Earth and die for us anyway?"

Someone in the group—"Because someone had to die for our sins!"

"But why? Why did someone need to die at all? Why did God set it up that way?"

Blank stares. Someone shared some scripture, and I nodded my head, letting it be dismissed.

I asked that question a year ago, and I can't shake it. This doesn't add up. There has to be something more.

My Christian faith has been a bit frayed lately. There's a checklist that Christians are supposed to follow each day (according to modern American, controlling Christianity). And I have not been checking off that list.

For several months this year, I would often find myself lying on the floor, feeling numb. Then I was sick for about a week or more. But not sick enough to call into work or stop going out with friends. Just kind of constantly not feeling great. This happens, right? I also deal almost constantly with anxiety and depression. So I’m used to continuing on with life even if I don’t feel well. One time I said that I have three emotions: numbness, depression mixed with anxiety, and very brief moments of happiness. This time my numbness was really bad. It just seems to get worse every time. Circumstantially, things were not going well for me either. I lost my job at a Christian organization. I felt abandoned by many friends. Yet, at the same time, I wanted to abandon them. Because then I wouldn’t have any Christians around to keep me accountable for my secret sins. I had gotten to a point where I was reconsidering the whole Christian thing. I wasn’t denying God’s existence, or even Jesus! Christianity just had too many rules for me, and I wanted to try my own thing for awhile.

So, I did.

I did the most common no-noes: got drunk often, smoked weed, watched porn, didn’t bother to watch my language, and basically gave up on doing all the normal Christian stuff. No more church, didn’t pray, didn’t touch my Bible. Just grew in my cynicism, and an alcohol tolerance.

But doing my own shit still led to me having a breakdown in the kitchen of my apartment. Every time I do this I know what I need to do next: confess and repent. Life is this cycle of mess up, confess, repent, and (you would hope) never do it again. I hate cycles. Doing the same thing over and over again. So when I mess up, I get really angry at myself, and I get too stubborn to do the confess part. So I go deeper every time. I postponed confession until it literally made me sick. The last time I went through this, I almost walked away from Christianity entirely. The guilt is too much to stomach.

So, let's try this again.

religion

P M

This is my story of growing up in strict religion.

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