Churches are not safe. I can’t step into one without coming up with an escape plan and spending a majority of the time warding off a panic attack. The families (particularly if the church is made of up of mostly families, with multiple children under 10), the songs, communion, the language in the preaching – the whole experience is still so very riddled and damaged by my past and I can’t see through it.
It doesn’t help that, for a supposedly “spiritually dark” place, the majority of churches seem to be very conservative/evangelical rife with things that make my insides scream and want to run away and/or throw up in the church bathroom. When I do go to church, which is rare and only for special family events (because, panic attacks) I shut down and distance myself as much as possible.
Language in the church is so loaded I can’t even begin to describe it in concise terms, it just is. I hear my past in my head – I can’t read the bible, the KJV I avoid like the plague. Communion scares the crap out of me, and I exit as soon as I can when that’s announced because I can’t bring myself to do it. Because I can’t do it sincerely, and I was doomed to hell if I ever did it wrong. I can’t sing, and some of the songs bring back so many harsh memories, I freeze when Blessed Be Your Name plays because of the theology that went along with it – glorifying a god who takes things away because he can. It doesn’t set well anymore. This particular song brings me back to my stillborn siblings, because this was their song in many ways.
I feel very alone. Because I can not, cannot believe in the god I used to believe in, in the god that all my new church experiences still proclaim (intentionally, or no. I can’t tell, because again, language barriers) I don’t hold it against them, and I usually assume the best (if I know the pastor) – but needless to say conservative churches are not good places for me.
I feel a lot of hate stemming from the christianity (and people who practice it) I used to know, and I feel like that can’t be what it’s about. If it is, I have no qualms with abandoning it as the only reason I became a christian was due to fear (pascal’s gamble, much?). Why is it that realizing the motivation for christianity (and other religions) is based on love and maybe that’s what we should be focusing on instead of hate so…wrong?
You can’t even google liberal christianity without an overwhelming amount of results pointing out that its wrong or not real, if not made a mockery of – “hippie touchy feel-y love”. But what’s so wrong with that? What’s wrong with love and acceptance instead of fear and falsely justified hate? It’s hard because all of my life I’ve heard it made fun of – the one thing I hope to be true. That god is not evil like I was taught, because how could that god not be evil? To want people to love him because they are afraid of death and hell. I don’t want to waste my time on a tyrannical misogynist deity.
I can’t go to church because my faith in humanity and the pieces of my soul that have been restored start to die. I can’t go to church because I can’t get past the hate, misogyny, and cruel nature of a deity who’s supposed to be loving. I can’t go to church because the atmosphere is so riddled with fear and judgement that I feel stifled. I can’t go to church because I am not accepted there.
I find that I still accept the idea of a deity, but in a more hands off way – I feel like the message of religion is all centered around the same thing: loving our fellow human beings. And I’ve found that I can accept that, I can do that, I want to do that even. If there is no god and I love my fellow man I have lived a good life, if there is a god and its not the christian god then I have still lived a good life (and assuming the deity is loving, just, and kind, or karma, I won’t have anything to worry about) and if the christian god does exist in the way I hope, from the New Testament, then I expect I’ll be greeted with “well done”.
I just want to love people, and be loved – accept and be accepted. Is that so wrong?
I don’t think church will be safe for me for a very long time; if it ever is, it will be because I’ve found someplace that is accepting to all people, and loving to all people, without inducing guilt, employing fear tactics, or excommunicating people they believe to be “in sin” (actually if they talk about people being “in sin” I won’t be going there. period).
By the time this is posted I’m going to be at PAX East, I’d like to reply to comments by friendlies but won’t be able to until Monday, so please be patient.
For those about to leave freaked out, angry comments or determine the status of my salvation:
1) don’t waste your breath
2) shut the hell up
3) It’s my business alone and not yours
4) I’m at peace with where I’m at and I’m working through everything in my own time, the best thing you can do is leave me alone about it and just accept my journey as my journey