As a young girl, church wasn’t something I woke up excited about. I dreaded getting up early, fighting my sister for the bathroom, mom pulling rollers out of my hair, eating breakfast faster than a loon (apparently, a loon, are the fastest animals to digest a meal) and dashing through the house yelling “shotgun” only to infamously loose to my mother, of all people. She never even yelled “shotgun”, we all lost to her by default. “Shotgun” was such an unfair game in my household. But, by age 14 you exploit the fact that yelling “shoutgun” is not the key, it’s yelling nothing at all. Then again, by age 14, the backseat was just fine. Being seen anywhere near your parents was embarrassing enough, let alone at church with them singing and praising. It was cool to see your friend’s parents worship, but seeing your own parents doing this was entirely mortifying. The only pleasing thing about church, at the time, was the new dress I was wearing (which by the way, was much better looking than the dress on my archenemy from school) and the snacks you got during bible study. Church slowly became more of a fashion show for our age group revolving around who was wearing what and who went to Sally Sue’s sleep over last night. Church became a high school homeroom for the pre-teens.
We go to bible study and are being taught that money is the root of all evil, yet the second we get to the parking lot, strutting towards our parents high end luxury car was the first priority. We had to secure our “status” within our own circle of friends, by flaunting what our parents had. I am not sure if this is something my parents picked up on, or if my parents were going through the same type of “pissing contest'” with the adults but, we soon retired from this church.
A few far from in between, we visited the catholic church. Before I start my rant about how money will buy your way to heaven, I do admire the discipline Catholics have. Though their teachings do not speak to my spirit, the attention to detail and years of continued tradition, is honestly, quite astonishing and I respect that wholeheartedly. Where I drew away was after finding out that birth control was not allow in the church nor divorce.
I guess my entire family was going to hell. My mom had remarried, my grandma had remarried, I was on birth control to control the outlandish hormones that come with being a teenage girl and my grandpa was not the picture perfect husband… let’ s just say everyone has a past and his past was frowned upon. But, for a “contribution” to the parish ( I believe that is what it is called) you get your “get out of hell pass” provided by your priest who is a divorcee, a closet homosexual and hands out advise about ‘safe sex’ to the adolescent. The pot calling the kettle black, much? My catholic experience was the cliche version we have all heard.
Two church experiences, and my relationship with God was less than par.
Going into high school, I started attending a church ( I am unsure of the denomination) but it was closer to what I needed to obtain a relationship with myself and God. I enjoyed the mannerisms, bible studies, teachings and the people. The family I went with were very much involved with the church community, so they inspired me to contribute as well. Looking back, I only went through the motions. Never actually digested the root of why I was here, what my purpose is, who’s life I need to enrich, and the bigger question….Do I think Jesus is my Lord and Savor? These were questions I went in seeking answers for, but came out with a new group of friends to party with on Friday nights instead. As much as I hate to admit that, I thought the actions I did were for the greater good but in all reality all this good was for selfish little ole me. Nothing for God was on the agenda. I fell into the rabbit hole of “spiritual static motions verses spiritual interactive movements”.
Church number three, bites the dust.
After this experience, it was all about me. I was a selfish teenage girl whom could care less about family values or family ties. Not to say I ignored my family, but friends and Friday nights out with a group of seniors was much more important. And it was much more important than seeking God. I could never really put my finger on it but during my early high school years, I was absolutely miserable inside. To those on the outside, would see this ‘typical perfect teenage girl’. I’d smile, laughed, play sports…. I was going through the motions once again. It wasn’t until I met my first true friend at school when this ‘light’ in me got brighter and I started to feel better about who I was and who I needed to be. We had a couple of classes together, spent weekends together, talked hours on the phone, planned our future college experience and relied on each other for everything. His parents liked me and my parents liked him…. yes, my parents liked a guy! His family went to church every Sunday, and every time I was asked to join, I politely declined. I was burnt out on the church scene. The irony of it all, is that he was able to open me up and discuss the root of why I was not in a relationship with God. We could talk about God and the bible for hours. I soon found myself more interested, willing to listen to the scriptures and soon after, I found myself back in church. I was never happier.
Then God ruined me.
My entire life was diminished. The only person who I cared for and loved more than anyone, was in an accident….. and died. He died young which is something I still struggle with, but upon hearing this news, I scorned God. I hated God. It was as if the news shook my core and rotted it. I have never been so upset, angry, sad, confused and so willing to disgrace our Lord based on this thread of unsettling news. I remember going as far as cussing out loud into the sky, how much I hate Him, for taking him away. I never forgave God for this.
Years passed and the only thing close to a church I went to, was his grave site. I’d stand there, tearing up, never talking, I always just stood there in silence.
Soon I was in college, partying like typical college student and dating guys with no ambition and/or treated me like shit and distancing myself from anyone who knew me. And I stopped visiting him. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’d rather someone shoot me with a shotgun than visit his grave site.
The only thing that got me over a hurdle no one even knew I was going through, was a roommate I had. She didn’t even know the extent of my demon I was fighting. It wasn’t her fault for not knowing, I never told her. People I let into my life after his death, I made it a point not to talk about it. I am not completely proud of how we acted sometimes, but in retrospect she healed me. Made me stronger. And made me see that there is still hope for me. I will always love her for this.
God seeked me out.
Growing spiritually, is not easy and I still have difficulties in my relationship with God. No one can protest to this more than my husband. I am so thankful for my husband, he knows me better than I know myself, he’s my best friend and my rock. There are no words to describe how grateful I am to have him in my life. But like any marriage, you have small issues. He and I hit a brick wall in our relationship because his relationship with God was more important than ours. Being still slightly upset at God, this was hard to accept. We would discuss finding a church to help our relations and when we’d select a church to try out, let’s just say we’d have more luck walking on water. Churches were becoming more of a hinder than an encouraging experience. Our relationship started to not necessarily fail, but there was tension in our marriage because we were not apart of something greater. I am blessed that he and I have the same beliefs, but he could tell that I needed to conquer my demon and resentment towards God, as he needed to be refreshed with his faith. For years, I despised the idea of organized religion and God. Then all the sudden, one day, I was reaching out to my husband asking to go to this one church I found online. As corn ball as this may sound, but I believe God wanted me to find this church, at this time in my life because He knew I would be ready to receive His word.
God is healing me.
Though I am new in the world of seeking a relationship with Him, life have taken a small but good turn. Things that would stress me out, no longer do. Friends that use to abuse my kindness have disappeared and new appreciative friends have replaced the old, my marriage is a blessing all in it’s own and my family is closer than ever. We may not be the best example, but we try to use our Sunday teachings as a challenge for the week, hoping along the way we make a positive impact on someone’s life. We honor our marriage, our families and our community. We all have our ups and downs, and as a spouse you help each other through the rough times, set an example of what being rich really means, never loosing sight of doing good and how to love one another. I’m still unsure of my purpose and I do not know if my everyday life is ‘text book’ correct. However, I do know that I will not have to yell “shotgun” to secure my place next to God. I will not have to yell anything at all. God does heal.