Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Is Faith and Religion So Difficult?

This is one of those posts that is hard to write. One that I struggle to put into words what is going through my head and one that can't be totally understood without background information. I didn't grow up in church. I grew up knowing that we were supposed to go to church and going occasionally. I vaguely remember attending various churches over the years, one where my parents were members and visiting others. There were plenty of times that I went to bible school in the summer with different people in our area. I went to friends house after school to learn various Bible related things. In high school, I went to church with friends. After Brady was born, we joined a church not far from our home. A little while after, I started wondering, thinking and then doubting. Doubting my salvation. Watching others and wondering how they can be so dedicated to their faiths, that they would do anything. Wishing that I could be that dedicated, that strong in my beliefs instead of doubting. Knowing that even though their hearts were breaking, they were breaking because of a higher power that I didn't know.

Eventually we fell out of going to our church. We had bought this house, leaving us a good drive to get there. Then came a time when money was scarce. There was no extra for anything and we had to cut back everywhere. Including gas to get to church. Lately we have tried attending a few of the churches closer to us, but I just can't seem to get motivated to get up and go. I have every intention on going Saturday night, but when Sunday morning rolls around, I just can't seem to move.

Belle was invited by our neighbor's child to attend vacation bible school with her a couple of weeks ago. After talking to Hubby about it, we eventually told her she could go and I sent her on her way. Later, she called asking to spend the night there and did. The next day, she came to me with questions about things she had "learned" at bible school. Turns out the kids were taught flat out that if "they weren't saved they would burn in the lakes of...." Yes, I understand the truth to that statement and yes, kids need to know that but when did bible school become about scaring the kids into salvation? Bible school I remember from growing up and helping out with was about singing, learning, crafts. There was nothing in there about fear. Then you get into the kids being saved for the wrong reason and then they are in the same boat I am. Doubting. Lucky for us, Belle came to me with her questions and worries.

What I hate is knowing that I am struggling but am trying to lead my children by raising them in the same situation that I grew up in. So I talk when they have questions and hope they understand. Questions they have that I can't answer immediately go to Hubby (the son and grandson of preachers.) I still can't help but feeling like the fraud that I am. I want my kids to be strong in faith and religion, but yet I am not myself. I am uncomfortable talking about it, but yet don't want my kids to be. Wondering if it's too late for me, if I've stalled to long but wanting to prevent that in my children.

Overall, two weeks later I'm still stunned. How could a church be so irresponsible to scare kids instead of teaching them? I know you're not supposed to ask shoulda, coulda, woulda, but what would've happened if Belle hadn't come to one of us? Now is time for us to decide what our next move is. For us and our family.


Ladybird said...

Okay, let me get on my soapbox.

In my opinion, religion is the worst thing that ever happened to faith. I don’t think for one minute that the church that Belle attended had the right to scare her. Fear is never the approach that should be used with children.

Fear and guilt kept me out of the church for a loooooonnng time. I knew that I needed to go to church, but I hated being “preached at” every Sunday. I didn’t feel good when I left, all I felt was that I wasn’t a good enough Christian….and that I would never live up to those standards.

Fast forward to now. I found a great church that fits me perfectly. There are no scare tactics used, and I leave feeling energized instead of guilty. Crosspoint’s motto lately has been “Everyone is welcome, because no one is perfect and anything is possible.” I look forward to attending and I enjoy being involved. I enjoy being part of a church community again……which I NEVER thought that I would. But don’t get me wrong, I am far from a perfect Christian…….perfect Christians don’t exist, that is why Christ dies on the cross for us.

The more that I look back now, I let other people’s RELIGION get in the way of my FAITH. Don’t let Belle’s VBS experience become a setback. I give her big kudos for coming to you about it. At least it opened up a dialog about it within your family.

janjanmom said...

God loves to use children to draw us closer to Him. (smile)

I am praying for you to see that God is love and church is church. Church is merely a place for Christians to have community with one another. Keep 'shopping' until you find a good fit. Pay no attention to the sign on the front, but focus instead on the people in the building. You will know it when you find it.

In the meantime, I would encourage you to delve into His Word, the Bible. I would encourage you to admit your weakness to your children in this area and study with them. In doing so, you will allow God into your hearts and lives and that will help you find THE church for you and your family.

Paralegal Diva said...

I'm in the same boat. Except I was raised to go to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night without question. I was saved and baptised at 9 years old and reaffirmed my salvation when I was 16.

All that being said -- I don't go to church. I haven't been in 2 years. I hate the building and I despise most of the people in it. Mainly because I haven't found "That" church yet. The one that says "we aren't full of hypocrites who tell you we understand your problems when we really have no clue what you are going through." My parents think that I've "falling out of grace", but I have not. To me, church is supposed to be a place to worship, not a building. Don't let ANYBODY ever tell you that you have to go to "church". That's religion.

I believe you can worship God anywhere, and that's what I do. I can pray, sing, and be in God's presence in my car, in my home, at the pool, and anywhere else I choose. That's faith.

I will always believe in God and that his son died for me. I know I'm going to heaven and why, and that's what really matters. I don't have to sit in a building in an uncomfortable outfit because society dictates it and listen to someone tell me that I'll never measure up. 'Cause it's not true. The bible tells me so.

As far as you and your kids go, the only training tool you really need is the bible. NO ONE can tell you how to raise YOUR children. And, I'm fairly certain whatever outcome you choose will be the best for you and your family.

Jennifer said...

Whoa!! There is NO reason for preaching salvation in Bible School. And religion and faith are two TOTALLY different animals. You can be spiritual and faithful without ever stepping foot into a man made church. Do what's right for your family and ignore society. 98% of the ardent Christians I know are hypocrites. All you have to do is read the headlines!!