Last night I went to church (technically bible study, but hey) for the first time in what had to be 4-6 months. I’ve been transparent about my spiritual journey, because I know that others may be juggling some of the same questions and thoughts that I am. This post is also a follow up to my previous post: The What If Of It All. Be sure to check that out if you haven’t already.
Anyways, Growing up, I didn’t really question much about religion and God, because well I was a child and believed what I was told. Not much more to it. During most church services I stood statue-like in the pews watching others around me lift their hands and shout praises. Being more on the introverted side in my childhood, I was listening as best I could, yet feared doing anything outwardly that would draw attention to myself. So I stood still, listened, and clapped when necessary so I would avoid getting scolded.
As a child and teen, I never really felt anything when I was at church. I was never moved to tears, compelled to stomp or shout, and wasn’t particularly interested in joining any of the ministries (although I was forced to do a few). For a long time I thought something was wrong with me because I wasn’t feeling anything. How was it that an 8-year-old could be so moved by the word that they choose to be baptized on their own during alter call, yet I was pushing adulthood and standing there..
So, I sort of went through the motions, was baptized at my home church and went to service just waiting when it would hit me and I would feel something, anything.
Needless to say that time didn’t come and I was off to college in the summer of 2012, leaving my home church and family behind. Despite such there was a bit of optimism, as in my mind college was going to be the perfect time to fine tune my religious beliefs, due to the countless options available for students. There were campus ministries, Greek letter organizations centered around religion, and a few churches right on campus. Without the pressure from my family I would be able to experiment with my faith and find out what worked for me, without question.
Well, I tried that and it worked.. for awhile. I went to campus ministry for about a year, and made some awesome connections. We had bible study weekly, praise and worship sessions in the Alpha-Omega fraternity house, gender-exclusive breakout sessions, and even went to a local park from time to time to sing, praise, and talk about God together. I really thought that this was it. I found comfort in learning about God outside of the confines of church walls and operated better when it was a small group of like minded college students talking about how we could apply the word to our life.
Well, after some time that didn’t work either. I grew distant from that particular campus ministry as my social and political beliefs began to take form. I remember expressing my beliefs about homosexuality and being looked at as if I had green skin. I sunk into my chair as my thoughts were politely put down by the bible study leader. She ever so gracefully reminded me of sin, and moved on to the next verse. That moment, was the beginning of where I felt that I had to choose.
Either I was religious or I was woke.
The more I learned about the injustices in our world that directly targeted marginalized groups and how said groups were often ostracized by the church it was really hard for me to identify as a religious being. In addition to that, I was influenced by personal experiences (particularly bad relationships and being cheated on) that made me say:
“I am only believing things that I can prove. I can’t trust faith. Faith will let you down, every time.”
From there I started looking more into science and found comfort in the things that I could see in text and prove. There was no need to have faith or believe. It was fact. Most importantly, I didn’t have to feel anything.
So that brings you up to speed on where I currently am. Essentially, I have determined that I reached a point where I felt like I had exhausted all options. I tried several different types churches, bible studies, youth groups, toyed with spirituality and meditation..The list can go on and on. Regardless of such, my mom invited me to attend bible study Wednesday evening and I begrudgingly agreed to go. It’s not that I don’t like church or can’t identify with the word, I just felt out of place and to avoid discomfort, I wouldn’t go . At this point, I don’t even own a bible, and the one that I did have is well, somewhere.. So as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it’s been awhile.
The bible study topic was centered around relationships. “How timely“, I mocked to myself. An average in stature man stood at the front of the church with those glasses that get darker in the sunlight..”Why is he wearing sunglasses inside?”
Focus Devin. Get your life.
Everything made sense and like I said, it’s not so much church or the bible that I can’t identify with, it’s the execution, rather, of said beliefs and how that sometimes can be used to say “x” is better than “y”.
I am not about judging, or suppressing the expression of other beings. I ‘m just not. So much of my life was spent trying to figure out who Devin was and what made me happy, that robbing that from another won’t work for me. Not saying that all church-goers are biased and spouting their beliefs on people, but I’ve seen it enough times to be rubbed the wrong way.
So what’s the point? I have this long post and you’re probably looking for the “a-ha” moment or for me to say I am a believer now and going back to church regularly.
I did learn something last night. I’ve been on this journey of self worth and surrounding myself with those who add to my light rather than attempt to dilute it. The bishop gave an example that we are like a rubber band, when we are younger we are more elastic and can snap back from heartache and disappointment with ease, yet as we get older, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so and sometimes those hurts leave scare tissue, deep under the surface. I thought about how a recent disappointment left me in a slump for days. Literally crying myself to sleep, without appetite and feeling purposeless. And I was like dang.. I am not as spry as I used to be. These hurts are starting to hurt more, because I am giving more of myself to others.
So while, I can’t commit to anything quite yet, I can commit to working on a better me and protecting my peace. I will be more intentional in what I invest in and how I can try to apply the word to trying situations in my life. It’s all about baby steps and as I approach year 23 in this world, I really want to be at peace. I want to be happy.
I know I will bend, but I don’t want to break. And in order to do so there has to be something to fall back on, perhaps I am getting closer to find it.