Sunday, April 08, 2012

40 To 40 Day 20: On Losing My Religion

Religion has always been a fascinating topic for me. I was raised Catholic, and from as early as I can remember going to church was a big deal with my Mom. When we first moved to Arizona we lived in the Southern/Priest area in Tempe, behind Peterson Park. The church we went to was around the 42nd street/Southern area, and most of the time we walked.

I took the faith very seriously. After all, why would we put so much effort into attending church every week if it wasn't important? I went to bible school, and eventually celebrated my first Communion. I don't think I really understood it all, just that everyone else was doing it and it must be pretty special if I got to wear a nice dress. We even had a party after and there were presents! After that I kept going, even the times my mom couldn't make it. By then I was old enough to walk or ride my bike on my own. I don't know why I kept going, just that I had to. I think I also liked the independence of going by myself. Eventually we all stopped going, but the faith stayed with me.

When the abuse began, I did a lot of praying. What else did I have? I couldn't tell anyone, I didn't know how to stop it. All I could do was pray for it to stop. When it finally did come out three years later, I had lots of time in the shelter to think about what sort of God could take so long to answer a prayer. I even went so far as to wonder if perhaps I just wasn't worthy enough, that maybe I was supposed to go through this. Eventually my wonder turned to anger. I felt jilted. I left home on my own, it was me who eventually told someone and tore apart my family. It was me who stood up in court, faced my stepfather and made a statement. If I had stopped praying and found my own strength several years earlier, I wouldn't have had to go through the pain I did all those years. So I let God go.

Over the years after I went back and forth on religion. Mostly it was indifference. We were married in a Catholic church because it was Bret's church and that made it easier to have a place. I went through the motions, but the only thing that mattered were the vows and not the church-related parts. Several years later we were having some problems, and we went out looking for a church thinking we needed faith to save our marriage. I was never comfortable in any church we visited, and we eventually worked through our issues without finding a church. It was in the new century that I found a comfortable place to be spiritually, but even then that didn't stop my questioning faith.

To be continued...

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