Friday, March 14, 2014

You can question my religion...but not my faith.

This week, when talking with a friend about something in another friend’s life that we both agreed would be so great if it were to actually happen – the friend said to me…”I’ve been praying.  I was going to ask you to pray but then I remembered you don’t pray.”

That was it.  A simple sentence and I was offended and insulted and mad.  I stated, “Just because I don’t go to church doesn’t mean I don’t pray.  I pray.  A lot actually.”
She said, “Oh well – I don’t know how you feel about religion anymore.”

Yah – you don’t….because you assume that going to church regularly = a strong religion.  Period.  You can be the biggest assbag in the county but if you go to church – somehow you’ve one-upped me in the religion department.
No matter what I do or say or how I live my life.  You base my relationship with my God on my attendance at a church for one hour a week.

I grew up in a strict, Catholic home.  You didn’t miss church unless you were dead.  Every week I was forced to go my whole life and I never understood much of it until I was older.  When I got married, I made the choice to stop going.  Contrary to popular belief…that doesn’t mean my faith stopped too.
You can believe what you want to – however – I can’t wrap my head around God only loving me if I sit in his house once a week.  I sit in his house 24 hours a day – wherever I am.  I don’t understand how it would benefit my kids to be forced to do what I was forced to do.  It didn’t work…because today I make the choice not to go. 

I’m technically a Catholic but I’m not a good one.  I believe in birth control.  I believe in the death penalty for people like the guy who raped a 2 year old that my husband has to treat nicely every day.  I don’t believe in abortion – for me.  However, I believe that every woman has to make that choice and I cannot and will not tell another woman that what I feel is the right thing for me is also right for them. 
I have faith.  A grounded, deep faith that I rely on in my most desperate moments.  When I see the beauty of nature or profound kindness – I attribute that to God.  I strive to be a better, nicer, and more compassionate human every day and I’m not too proud to admit that most days I fail.

I believe in a God who loves me for trying.  I believe in a God that bases my life on how I lived it, how I treated people and what’s in my heart vs how many times I sat in a church.  I may be Catholic but I don’t believe that’s the only religion out there or the only one that matters or it’s the “right one” and all others are wrong.  I just can’t believe that. 
There are many other religions that don’t believe weekly church gets you into heaven…and what if they’re right and we’re wrong?  Who the hell knows?

I find it utterly ironic that you – the almighty never miss a week of church person – find it okay to judge me and my faith and what I do and don’t do.  I find it amazing that once a week church hasn’t made you a more understanding and empathetic person. 
I see this everywhere in the people that never miss church.  I can’t lie and tell you that I’m not resentful of some of those people who have been nothing but hurtful towards me…because I am.  What did church do for that person?  Not a damn thing if you ask me.  It only allowed that person to meet their weekly quota per the rules.  And look down upon me, I guess.

And maybe you’ll say I’m justifying and rationalizing my inability to sacrifice one hour of my time for a God that has blessed me so much and maybe you’re right about that too.
Accuse me of anything.  Tell me I’m a terrible Catholic.  Tell me you’re disappointed in me that I’m not a model church-go-er.  Tell me I’m a terrible mother for not forcing my children to be a part of a religion that I myself, question at the deepest levels.

Tell me anything you want if it makes you feel better to judge me.  If that’s what going to church every week helps you to do and feel good about it – do it.
But there’s one thing you cannot do.  Don’t you dare question my faith. 

When I lost my best friend to suicide and every night I prayed to God to not let me wake up in the morning – He listened…and let me live.  When I screamed at him in anger and wept for hours wondering why – I know now that He was the only thing that pulled me through that….because no other human did.  Least of all anyone who went to church every week.  You church-go-ers didn’t even notice I was a teenager dying.
When I was in the throes of a severe depression and could not eat, sleep or move from bed – my heart was praying and begging God for help even if my brain was just trying to hang on for one more second.

When I had a baby in the NICU and missed Rambo so much that it was a physical hurt…God was with me.  Every single second. 
And in the most beautiful, joyous moments of my life – He was there then too and you can bet your ass I didn’t forget to be grateful or thank him 1000 times before I laid my head down at night.

What I have with my God is mine.  It is exactly what I need – nothing more, nothing less.  I could literally care less what any other human on this Earth has or doesn’t have with their own God.  It is none of my concern. 
Question my religion all day long and twice on Sundays while you’re sitting in church. 

But do not question my faith.  Just don’t.


angel shrout said...

Ahh you have to love the bible thumpers. You know the ones who have never actually OPENED it alone to read. So my darling let me tell you this. The Jesus they say they know they don't know at all. For if they did they would know He said, 'I came not to make a religion but to abolish it. I came not to make new laws and rules but teach you the 3 that matter. Love God as He has loved you and Love others the same." They have a hard time grasping that. Why because they are too busy finding the fault with others to ignore their own sins. Much like the adulteress woman. So let me say this. I don't go to church. But I believe, I have faith, I know who He is in my life because I have seen His hand when I never saw one person at my side. I am His temple, I don't have to go to a church to find him, talk to him or know him.

Sarah Kopf said...

Hey! You! Know what makes us different than THEM? That one line you wrote: 'I live in God's house 24 hours a day!' That. That right there!

I grew up the same way you did. I saw too much by way of those churchgoers- abuse and divorce and drunkenness. (I was raped by one of them for Christ's sake. And that's a legal fact.) Not a damned one of them was without sin. Not. One. And yet there they were, every weekend, butts in seats for an hour- not for spiritual fulfillment, and not to thank God for their many many blessings, but to beg foregivness for their sins- and the sins they'd make the next week. And so I can't, for the life of me, understand why my praying-thanking God for the HUGE blessing that my life is- EVERY DAY when I wake up, and when I go to sleep, and several bazillion times in between isn't adequate enough... And that's because it is. It IS adequate. It says "Where two or three gather in my name, I am there" in the BIBLE! Do you talk about prayer? About God? Does Rambo know you love Him? Do your kids? Then you're golden as far as I'm concerned.

Our faith is supposed to strengthen us. Give us hope where there seemingly isn't any. Show us that the way and the life is through our God- whomever that might be for each individual person. So long as you're doing things to bless others and treating them with kindness, respect, love, and foregiveness (as we're forgiven), we are good, no?

You, my friend, are loved, Forgiven. Saved. Because you love Jesus and He absolutely loves you. Don't despair because of somebody's momentary ignorance and blind assumption toward your personal beliefs-because you don't shove it down their throat and fill a pew on Sunday. And honestly- she probably didn't mean to hurt you. It was probably an "insert foot in mouth" moment and she might still feel terrible about it. If she's a friend, I'm sure she sensed your hurt, no? Forgiveness goes two ways, love. ;) I know you know that. Don't hate me. :)

You do YOU, honey. I know too much sadness to not know joy- and how amazing it feels. Two child cancer battles, rape, divorce- all in my own history- but God has blessed me richly. And I'll be darned if I don't choose to be grateful. I have an incredible son. A husband I don't deserve. A life that other people dream about. And I will spend every moment and every breath of my lungs thanking God for it and honoring Him because of it. Come what may- I am blessed. You are too. I know you know that.

And if all that isn't enough, I will say this (because you get me): SCREW THOSE PEOPLE!



Cheri said...

I feel a little goofy talking television....but I was so glad when our cable channels changed so we got O (Oprah channel) and I started watching Super Soul Sunday. I have enjoyed a lot of the speakers, and jotted down a bunch of their books to read in the future (and have read a few). But for me, it is that idea of faith vs a specific doctrine or church. Personal connection to God or Spirit, Prayer, openness rather than certainty you have the corner market on all "Truth" in a way that excludes everyone else, etc. It's been nice to see there are a lot of people out there on a similar path to connect to, because there was a time I got a lot out of meeting with like minded people in a church, but I don't have a place I find that right now for various reasons. I needed to have a more personal seeking - which was good - but it's also nice sometimes to feel a part of a larger group and not totally isolated. Even if your group is a group that is connected BECAUSE of diversity! Sometimes I tease myself, too though, because I realize if I'm not careful, I'm judgmental towards people who are judgmental. :-D I was talking to someone about it last week and she said it made her think of "Namaste" - the spirit in me, recognizes and acknowledges the spirit in you! So we don't have to agree or be the same, to show honor and respect to the spirit we recognize in every other person. :-)

Loving Life by Leesa said...

I swear we could be related, we have a lot of the same beliefs.

I am a Christian. I refuse to pick a "religion" because I don't believe God cares what I label it. I haven't been to church in several years because church politics make me resent church services. Me and God, we are tight. Churches are only buildings, they're tools, places for people to gather, just like a gym or a grocery store. If their spirits are judgmental and not Christ like, who do they think they're fooling? Not God. He knows our heart and we can "have church" no matter where we are.

Thank you for writing this. Rock on skittle & glitter girl!

Vanessa said...

AMEN!!! - Nuff Said.

Connie O said...

I know I may be missing a lot by not knowing your friend's tone or body language when she said those things ... but maybe she was really saying she doesn't know why you don't go to church anymore, and she thought it might be because you had lost your faith. You're right that she probably shouldn't START with that assumption, but it is not necessarily insulting. Perhaps she was trying to be respectful of what she thought your choice had been. But if she said "You don't pray" in an accusatory way, or you just know her well enough to know that that's how she meant it, then I'm way off base!

I agree that how you live your life every day is much more meaningful than an hour under a particular roof on Sunday.

Angela Pea said...


Melissa @ Faster In Water said...

I'm so thankful God is there for us all of the time! We would for sure be lost without Him.

I have to stay in check with myself about church. Am I going because it enriches my life or am I going because I expect myself to go/other expect me to go? My church has a prayer hour on Saturday mornings that I was going to every week for a couple of months, but it ended up being more work to show up than it was beneficial. I haven't been in weeks and it has been great :)

I love going to the church where it is not a secret that we are all sinners...pastor and staff included, and the only answer to that is to rely on God. It was really a breath of fresh air.

Always love your blog, girl. Thought provoking, honest, and relatable!