If you’re not a religious type, totally cool, feel free to just skip over this one. Also just remember these are my own personal thoughts and feelings and I’m not looking for anyone to “fix” them.
As most of you know, I was raised in a Christian house. When my parents got married they weren’t church goers, but they started when I was about two. I can still remember watching them get baptized when I was about 4ish maybe.
Now as most people will tell you, living a religious life isn’t an easy one. And my own journey has not been an exception to that. I have had a lot of struggles. It started when I was in high school. My church had a change in pastors, but it took a long time to get a replacement. The man they hired in the middle was an old Irish man and it wasn’t the best fit for me personally. I didn’t like his teachings as they were old and very conservative. As a moderate person, the extremes of anything really bother me and don’t sit well with me.
I guess another thing that really played a part in my teenage disconnect was that I had recently been introduced to online chat rooms and the seedy side of that for teenage girls. I got into a lot of things that filled my life with shame and guilt, mostly because of the religious implications of my actions. It made me not want to talk to my parents for the fear of the judgement that would come from that. So I stayed in those situations for years….decades actually.
I’ve gone through waves of being more devote than other times in my life. When I went to South Korea the first time, I really had to focus on my own spirituality because I was in a country that didn’t speak English. It wasn’t until two-weeks before I was set to move home that I learned there was a really popular English church in the next town over and I could have been going the whole time.
So basically from the age of 12 to 33 I was in this perpetual struggle of making choices that made me feel guilty and then not wanting to give those choices up but also wanting to be better in my faith which caused me to feel guilty about my choices.
During the first Covid spring, I decided to make some SERIOUS changes. I wasn’t going to church since we were all in lockdown (and honestly I didn’t like the new pastor at the church I was attending) and once again I found that I was responsible for my own faith. And I feel like I really excelled. I was able to cut out the things that I didn’t like about myself that had been around since I was a teen. I felt I really strengthened my relationship with God. But with that strengthening, there have also been a lot of questions that have come up.
One thing is this whole sex before marriage rule. Now during my dating life (which didn’t start until I was 30), I have been very firm in keeping a no sex before marriage rule. I started being more honest with the guys in the fact that I might consider physical things once we had been dating for a bit but that just led to expectations of like sex on our third date. Which didn’t work for me, so I decided it was best to be more strict and just say no sex at all. The truth is, ever since my mid-20’s I’ve been ok with the idea of common-law relationships and things of that nature but struggle to reconcile that within my own faith journey.
Now that I have reconciled that, I honestly feel like I’m starting to once again lose my faith. For over a year and a half now, I start my day with Bible reading over breakfast. When I started, I wouldn’t allow myself to even look at my phone until I had that reading time and prayer time. I’m not so strict with it now but I still try to keep that up. Even if it’s just to keep me on time to get ready for work. But in that reading I am finding a lot of things that just don’t sit right with me. And actually am finding a lot of “ugh that is really hypocritical” creeping up in my readings and in my own feelings. I’m not sure if that has contributed with my new found acceptance and comfort levels in my dating life, or if they are just both the by products of my own personal growth, but I’m starting to feel like that connection I had a year and a half ago isn’t there any more. Or at least not in the same way. I’m finding it a struggle to keep up the readings and the devotion when I am finding so many issues with what I am reading. And being part of a church body again, my brother’s, is giving me a lot of ugh feelings as well. The overly conservatism is something that I haven’t had to deal with in real life for all of Covid and experiencing it again is proving to be a source of frustration within my own soul.
I feel like I’ve been making a lot of life choices based around how I think they will be seen within the Christian community that I have grown up in, but sometimes those choices don’t really line up with who I feel like I am as a person, and then I feel like I’m a bad Christian because I’m not following the rules set out for women that were written in a time where women were often sold and traded. Or even rules that line up with basic Christian teachings of love and grace.
So I guess basically what I’m getting at, after all of that, is that I’m struggling to see how or why I need to follow rules that are at least 3000 years old. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in God or the core tenants of Christianity like the trinity and the resurrection etc. But I am finding it hard to still hold onto the “religious” aspects outside of that. And maybe that is hypocritical of myself to kind of pick and choose what I will uphold, but also I don’t think that the things that I am letting go of diminish my relationship with God at all.
I’m not looking for advice or anything like that, I’m just sharing some things that have been on my mind as I go through my own personal growth. Sometimes just the act of typing out things makes them clearer in my mind. Not sure if this helped, but at least it’s out of my mind now.