Saturday, December 04, 2004

Finding My Religion

Growing up, I attended church and Sunday school on a regular basis. As a child, I proudly sang the songs "Jesus Loves Me" and "This Little Light of Mine" in the front of the church in my very best dress. The youth group and summer Bible camp influenced many years of my teen years. Every summer, I went to Bible camp where I had met friends and looked forward to seeing them every year. My friends from school also attended camp with me so I had the best of both worlds at camp. Every Wednesday night during the school year, I would go to church for youth group where we'd play games, discuss issues, and enjoy that special time together. As an adult, I attended school and even taught Sunday school myself when I lived in North Dakota.

I lived a charmed childhood and adulthood where I had experienced very little loss and was given very few times to question "it all". On mother's side of the family, they had their faith tested through the loss of their father when they were just children and the loss of their brother when they were adults. They continued to believe and trust in God. My mother and her sisters held true to their faith and taught it to their children.

Since moving to Iowa and experiencing loss several times since the move, I have come to question the purpose and the belief in organized religion, and more importantly, my place in it. I wondered if there was a place for me in organized religion with my views and beliefs. All I see on television is fundamentalist Christians that judge and criticize the way others live their lives. I have found hypocrisy in the lifestyles of the people around me who claim to be "good Christians". I didn't want to do that. I wanted to belong to a church that I truly believed in. So I waited. I didn't even search for this church. I just wanted to think, plan, and organize what I truly believed in before I began the search for my place in religion. I have been to extremes with religion. I have thought "maybe we are just here without a plan or God?" and the other extreme was when I was in the prime of my adolescence belief in youth group.

Even though others have heard me question and think about religion, I am ready to begin a religous journey again. No, I am not a Bible banger...not even close. What I mean by that is that I am ready to go to church again. I am ready to start to educate myself and build my philosophy of faith.

I believe that God does work in mysterious ways because just as I was thinking about this idea this past week, the major television networks decided to not show a commerical from the United Church of Christ because it illustrates their all-inclusiveness of families of all types...including homosexual people and families. This is unfortunate and sad for the United Church of Christ because their message is important and won't reach as many people, but there can be a slight silver lining for me. Because of the publicity this received, I found a church that believes in the same open-armed ideas that I believe. I have had such a bad taste for organized religion and the stance they take with gay rights, abortion, and many other ideas, that I haven't found a church with my ideals. So, on Sunday, I plan on attending church at the United Church of Christ.

1 comment:

Malo said...

Have you ever considered other religions? I grew up in Catholic schools and primarily raised as Catholic/Christian. Eventually, I took a different path and really enjoyed the autonomy and freedom of being Muslim. They don't judge or criticize and you are free to worship as you want. You don't need anyone like a priest to help you. Obviously, a lot of silly stuff is on Tv and there are some crazies giving the religion a bad name, but otherwise, it is very refreshing.

Doctor Malo