spirituality

Religiosity (Part 1)

March 21, 2013

bible

I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember. Probably even before then. I’ve spent most of my life regularly attending church (mostly of the Baptist denomination), despite having parents who aren’t church-goers or particularly religious. Though both of my parents were raised in the church (mother, Catholic; father, Baptist), I can’t say for certain if either of them even consider themselves Christians.  I was probably one of the only kids I knew growing up who actually wanted to go to church… every Sunday, no less. In my very early years, my parents attended church with me. And when I was old enough, they would drop me off or let me go to church with family friends. I attended a Christian preschool. I was Christened as a baby and chose to be baptized as a teenager. I was active in the children and youth ministries, and even sang in the choir. I’ve always loved going to church, being in church, being part of the church.

When I was 5 or so, I wanted to be a nun. I had seen The Sound of Music, and was convinced that I, too, could be a nun like Fräulein Maria. I mean, I loved God, I loved singing, I loved dancing – it was the perfect job! My desire to be a nun was serious – I walked around with my head bowed with a make-shift habit on my head (usually a sweater) and my hands in prayer position. It was not a game. Until my father informed me that I could only be married to Jesus did I rethink my calling to life in a convent. I loved Jesus, but not like that.

I cannot say whether or not I truly understood what it meant to be “saved” as a little girl. But I did love Jesus and saw him as a Savior. So much so that I often responded to my parents when I thought they were being unfair by saying, “I’m gonna tell Jesus on you!”

To this day I regularly attend church. It’s important for me to be part of a church – not just as a Sunday worshiper, but a student of the faith and one involved in church ministry. I enjoy being in worship and fellowship with other believers, and it’s important for me to have close relationships with other believers, to grow stronger and more mature in my faith. My faith is also an essential part of my relationship, and will continue to be in my marriage and family.

For all of these reasons I proclaim myself to be a religious person. I have often heard Christians say they aren’t religious but spiritual, as if to distance themselves from the undesirable aspects of the Christian church. But the very act of being part of or following a religion makes one religious, no? Yes, Christianity has it’s painfully obvious blemishes and more than it’s fair share of “wacky” followers, but I cannot deny something that is so much a part of who I am and why I am.

Though I consider myself a Christian, and undoubtedly believe in God’s existence, I have often questioned Christianity and wrestled with certain Christian principles. My personal and political ideals are often in conflict with what is generally accepted in the Christian faith.  My beliefs are not all supported by my Bible. I believe in an enormous God who is constantly being forced into small boxes. But I also believe in a God who has expectations and requirements. After all these years as a believer, I still have not reconciled my faith in Christ with the institutional Christian faith.

I think about my faith often – while in church, while at work, while attending life group (bible study), while reading the news, while discussing politics. Considering my faith is often stressful and worrisome for me. As such, through a series of blogs posts, I intend to be transparent about some of my religious struggles and try to articulate why I believe what I believe, despite the large opposition of such beliefs. I can’t be the only one with this struggle. I’ve never admitted these things to people who aren’t close to me, but I now feel compelled to think aloud and work this out through my favorite form of therapy. Besides, confession is good for the soul.

Speculating & Meditating,
~Gem

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9 Comments

  • Reply Wu Young, Agent of M.E. March 21, 2013 at 10:18 am

    *nods*

    I tell people that I’m a “little c” Christian more specifically a lapsed Baptist. I went to church as a kid but I won’t say that I was raised in the church. I only went on Sunday for the regular service, never went to Sunday School, or Bible study although my parents were active in various aspects of the church. Even after I was baptized I was meh about attending but in high school I realized that I just didn’t like going to church. I thought back to when I was a much younger Agent of M.E. and recalled that I would do everything in my power to get out of going on Sunday from prentending to be sick to oversleeping. There’s always been something about the atmosphere that threw me off. This could be and indictment on my character, though… or I’m just a weirdo.

    In a rather odd juxtaposition I always have prayed a lot and tried to do the right things by others and myself. The divide became greater as I moved toward adulthood and like you had issues reconciling various things and acts that I saw taking place.

    The tipping points came when Moneypenny and myself visited the church of one of her co-workers and it was a complete mess. Everything from speaking in tongues to the preaching of prosperity. One of the preachers actually placed a Gucci trunk at the alter for the sheep to place money in. (He then said he was going to “Dance over his stuff!” Something I despise. I may not the most pious man to ever walk the Earth but I do belief with everything I hold dear that when a man prostrates himself before the almighty his tax bracket is that least of his worries.)

    After witnessing the mess me and Moneypenny laughed about it but I realized one thing under all of the laughter: You have to depend on YOUR faith to get you over. The rest is out of your control.

    Again like you, I still have issues with the boxes folks try to place God into. He’s too big for that. He’s this! He’s that! Too powerful to be locked down by man’s tiny mind.

    I really never advertised my religious beliefs but you made a lot of good points. I just know when I see people taking a dump on others in the name of God I shake my head.

    You aren’t as alone as you think you are.

    • Reply gemmieboo March 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      thanks for sharing.

      in many ways i can relate. ill talk about diff churches and my selectiveness about ones i attend regularly. some places just turn me – a believer – off and i can see why others are more inclined to turn as far away from God as possible after such experiences.

      with all the variety who is getting it right? if anyway. and how would you know?? everyone twists the bible for their benefit and its hard to find solace in just believing without all the other fluff.

  • Reply madscientist7 March 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

    great post. like you i grew up in the church but growing up both my parents were deeply religious. i was raised in a church called the The Cherubim and Seraphim movement church but we just called it C&S. i’m pretty sure you know that both cherubim and seraphim are angels found in the bible. anyway my parents made sure we were in church and bible study every sunday. as my parents got older they became less and less religious to the point where when i’m home i’m the one forcing my mom to attend church with me (how the tides have turned).

    anyway, i’ve struggled deeply with my religion as well at different parts of my life. i’ve never not believed in God, and that Jesus died for my sins but i’ve struggled with the bible itself. the bible was written by man and translated over and over again. when you translate things between languages things are lost and in cases like the the king james version (which i don’t particularly like) things may have been added to benefit specific people.

    i will tell anyone that i’m more spiritual than religious in a heartbeat. i remember when i watched alacatraz (still don’t understand how that show got canceled) but a quote that will always stick with me is:

    “Spirituality is for those seeking understanding. Religion is for those seeking reward.”

    that’s exactly what i’m seeking, understanding. i study the bible in relation to my life. i don’t beat others over the head with it. my goal is to become more Christ-like. i know i will never get there but its my duty as a good Christian to try.

    • Reply gemmieboo March 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      i have been to a C&S church. very interesting experience lol.

      when you translate things between languages things are lost and in cases like the the king james version (which i don’t particularly like) things may have been added to benefit specific people.
      they dont hear you doe.

      i hear you about the spirituality vs religion thing. but while i am obviously very spiritual, i am also religious. i like church, the organizing of fellow believers, certain church traditions. but at the same time i also struggle with fitting into the larger umbrella of this religion – a religion that often promotes hate, intolerance, and self-righteousness. it’s obviously proven quite the impossible task to have religion without the fluff. can you be saved and Christ-like without being a Christian? idk…

  • Reply kdbarnes March 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for writing this, Gem. I look forward to reading what you have to say. I’m in a decidedly weird spot with religion and haven’t found a way to work through it, but I’m in that spot for a lot of the reasons you touched on; looking forward to learning from and with you.

    • Reply gemmieboo March 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      i dont know if i’ll be of help to you or just make you more confused – as i seem to be spinning in circles. but its a discussion i want to have, as i know many ppl who feel like they dont fit in to the Christian box but still hold many of Christ’s ideals dear to them.

      why it gotta be so complicated, G???? lol

  • Reply That Damn African March 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    My parents raised me to go to church every Sunday. In fact, the older they’ve gotten, the more they go to church during the week. It’s not just for Sundays anymore. But if I’m honest, my memories of church as a kid were about a place that I went to because I had to, not because I wanted to or because I felt enriched while I was there. It made my parents happy, so I didn’t mind it at all. Plus, I got to hang out with other kids who were there for the same reason, so it wasn’t too bad.

    My spiritual renaissance didn’t come about until I left my home (and church) for college. How ironic. There was a huge, active Christian community on campus that I got involved with. Started reading the word more, praying more, participating in different ministries, and what not. I felt like I was enriching my life and sharing this experience with people I could connect to.

    Then I went to grad school and my zeal began to wane. Not all at once, but over years and with intermittent renewal. Seeing the words typed out like this, it seems obvious now that some of my passion left with the group of Christians I had at my side throughout undergrad. A zeal that still hasn’t been completely brought back to life.

    Wait a minute, this isn’t my blog. I can’t be writing my own posts in here lol. Anyway, suffice it to say that I’m glad you’ve decided to write about your religious struggles on here. It has clearly already made me think more about my own religious struggles.

    • Reply gemmieboo March 23, 2013 at 1:14 am

      LOL man, B, you never lied about losing that zeal! thats exactly where i am right now! is it me? is it the church (or lack of)? why does my religion seem so state dependent??

      again, these are all things i plan to work through in one or more posts, if i can. maybe if i type it out it’ll make sense. or some one can help me make sense of it. idk. but im glad that some one else can feel me on this.

      and if you write a post on this, i would def read!! lol

  • Reply Religiosity (Part 2): Challenging Faith | That's What GEM Said March 27, 2013 at 9:43 am

    […] « Religiosity (Part 1) […]

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