Usually I won’t talk forever about my religion or what I believe or what I think, but last night, I was on my way back up to my room and someone in the elevator saw my knees and said something strange to me; “May the blood of Jesus bless your knees and help them heal!” Now, living in Chicago, I’ve seen and heard some crazy things, but the look in this guy’s eyes kind of scared me, and for some reason, what he said really bothered me. I got off the elevator and went back to my room, and these thoughts have been with me ever since then, so I figured I’d just put it in a little blog post and maybe get some perspective. Since that’s usually what I use this for anyway.
I used to go to church every Sunday. Not particularly because I wanted to, but because my parents dragged my butt out of bed and made me. I’m not proud to admit it, but I never really enjoyed church all that much. The parts I liked were the trips I would get to take with the groups, working at Vacation Bible School, going to summer camp, and playing in both of the church bands I got to be a part of. I never understood why people liked to sit through an hour long lecture with singing in between. I never truly understood what the sermons were about, even when I was supposed to be listening to fill out worksheets for my confirmation class. Looking back, that’s around the first time that all this started bothering me. The night before I got confirmed as a member at my ELCA church, I found myself on the fold-out couch downstairs wondering “Why do I want to be confirmed? Do I want to be confirmed? What does all this even mean?”
That was four years ago.
It’s been almost a year since I really went to church. Because it’s been almost a year since I lived at home, basically. Like I said, church was something I hardly ever went to by choice. It feels kind of wrong to be writing this blog post in the time of Lent, which, ironically, used to be my favorite time of year as far as the church was concerned. I liked hanging out with people “late” on a Wednesday night, eating dinner with people that weren’t my family, and writing notes back and forth with them during the service.
So we get it, I was a regular church-goer by my parents’ choice. This past weekend I was at home, and when my parents asked if I wanted to go to church, my immediate response was “No, it makes me feel uncomfortable.” Which, unfortunately, is true. My church has been kind of a mess the past couple years, and maybe serving on the teams that I did wasn’t good for me. The church I went to at home had the same pastor for over 25 years. He literally built the church. Needless to say, he had been my pastor the entire time I went to church. So when he retired and left, I probably took it harder than I should have. I liked our interim pastor (the guy that comes in to help us transition and works to help us also find a new pastor that fits,) and I have yet to meet our new one, but it still feel so uncomfortable for me. I used to feel fine taking a nap in the youth room, or showing up in a t-shirt and jeans. Now I feel like if I showed up in that, (or god forbid, someone find me asleep in the youth room,) that would be it. The years I worked at VBS, the summers spent on the road, the hours served on the transition team and representing the church at VLM meetings – none of that would matter. I feel like it might already not even matter. Yes, I made friends at church – in fact, that’s where I met my first boyfriend – but the rest of it is all so confusing and weird.
I don’t want to say I figured it all out last night, because I didn’t, but I can say that I think I’ve figured out where I stand in all this. I’m not shunning the idea of church entirely. I’m not denying the idea of some larger power up there controlling things and getting a say in what happens and what doesn’t. I’m just saying that that’s not necessarily what I believe right now. I’m not an atheist, at least, I don’t think I am. All I know is that I’m not sure if what I’ve believed in all my life is necessarily what I actually want to believe. I like the idea of being able to go to someone or some thing with all my problems and my triumphs, but I’m not sure if that’s what I can really do with God.
Just out of curiosity, I started to take a “what religion am I” quiz, and I got to question four of twenty before I realized the big question: what is it that I believe, and what is it that I believe because it’s what someone told me?
So, I guess, that’s where I’m at right now with all that. I feel like I could say so much more, but I don’t really want to think about it in my groggy mind at the beginning of an 11-hour work day. So, um, stay tuned…
EDIT: In my usual fashion, I’m procrastinating. I was just reading some articles on Matt Nathanson, and stumbled upon this quote from an article on Jewish Journal: “I’ve pretty much committed to music my entire life, and that’s pretty much the only thing I’ve dedicated my life to, much to the chagrin of relationships I’ve had, much to the chagrin of family,” Nathanson said. “Music has taken over my life.” It’s for the same reason that he isn’t religious, he said. “Judaism doesn’t play a huge role in my life these days; neither does Catholicism … I’m pretty spiritual, but I’m not anywhere when it comes to either one of those religions,” he said. “I’ve never been able to dedicate time to do it correctly.” This indifference to religion might change, however.
I feel like I agree with what Matt’s saying here and I understand it. (Read the full article here.) And I just wanted to add that in. I’m not giving up entirely, but I think I need to explore what else is out there. Okay cool.