Friday, July 15, 2005

Church Chat And My Grievance With God

If only it were the Church Lady sort from that old Dana Carvey SNL skit. In my Truth Seekers network, religion and God tends to come up now and then. Why wouldn't it? The network seeks truth of all kinds: God, aliens, and Tom Cruise included. I certainly have never minded exploring God and religion, but I happen to take a more personal, spiritual approach vs. a religious view. Quite frankly, religion to me is an excuse.

A cop out- a reason not to think. Whatever you want to call it, it is used for that purpose. If you can't figure out what to call something, or why something is either beyond beautiful or beyond reprehensible, people chalk it up to God. What always seems to enrage me the most when discussing religion with others is when church comes into the picture. Why would anyone need to go to church to learn about God? In the lastest discussion, someone pointed out a study that said that people who go to church are happier and healthier than those who do not. Well really this just angered me (which I suppose could prove their point I imagine).

I know I have a Catholic upbringing working against me here, but I fully acknowledge that all churches are NOT run like a Mass. I (as well as my husband) realized long ago that we didn't need church to prove that we trusted in God. Really, isn't He the only one you really have to prove your worth to? God doesn't want you to prove yourself, He just wants you to be happy. God understands that we can be happy with or without going to church. We've tried together about 10 years ago to find a church, but my husband really made it clear to me that I should examine why I'm looking for a church in the first place. When I looked at it, I had no reason. I felt I could do my spiritual journey on my own, and not have to worry about becoming part of the Sunday morning cattle call.

I know that seems harsh, but really that is all it seems to me. When my first child was born, my husband and I discussed what we would do when it came to religion. He is Catholic, and I was concerned about whether he would want our baby baptized or not. He really didn't care either way, he feels as I do. We should wait, discuss God and different religions with our children, and then let them decide what path they would like to go on when they are old enough to understand. I was actually surprised he felt the same way, but then on the same note I understand. He became Catholic at 19, and wasn't raised to think that this is what you HAVE to do concerning religion. He chose his path. I was raised to think you must attend church, which is why I am probably so uncomfortable with the concept of going to church once a week to "prove my worth". To whom am I proving this to? The other parishioners? The preacher? God? Hardly.

I'm certainly on my own journey, I know this. I went from ending my high school years thinking there is absolutely no God, going through the motions of my wedding in a Catholic church, to realizing there absolutely has to be a God, because I was given two very unique and wonderful gifts in my children. There is no other reason for that in my opinion. But I cannot make my journey about God. I try and make it about myself. I don't pray, because I found out long ago that prayers are not answered. I have started taking a more Buddhist approach to life, though I certainly do not agree with all elements of Buddhism either. I meditate, and that has given me an outlet in which to center myself, which I found to be actually quite liberating in it's own way. Through it all, Church just never seems to fit into the picture of what I think a relationship with God should be.

I do know another reason I have such a hard time when it comes to religion. I have a grievance with God, and it goes back to my childhood. Those almost three years when I was suffering, when the most incomprehensible things that could be done to a child were being done to ME. Where was God then? Is there some greater purpose, some reason that I (or any child for that matter) needed to have a trusted family member screw me every other night for THREE YEARS? Would I not have the life I have now if I didn't go through it? Was it a test by God of my strength, my endurance of life itself? Would my life have been BETTER if it hadn't happened? Or worse? Did I pass? Did I prove my worth by having this dark period happen? Why would a loving, caring God test a child in that way? What greater purpose could that possibly have?

I often think about the movie Forrest Gump when I think about this. The scene where they are on the shrimp boat during the storm, and Captain Dan decided to take on the storm, climbing up on the mast and in a nutshell telling God to bring it on. Of all the scenes that would normally make one cry in that movie, that scene is always the one that makes me tear up. Especially after the storm. His peace is made, and he's swimming in the very ocean that hours ago tried to claim him. I find myself longing for a similar opportunity. Where is my storm so I can have it out with God?

Then again, maybe that is what Church is, and why it is so hard to accept it and open myself up to attending. Maybe Church would be where I would have out my grievance. I have not written off ever attending church. I know that feelings and emotions and thoughts about things change constantly. I just hope that someday I will feel strong enough- brave enough- to take on the challenge it presents me.

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