Something profound happened to me on Sunday.
I went to church.
Now for anyone that knows me or even somewhat regularly reads my blog knows that is the norm for me.
I've gone to church since I was born. Every Sunday. Which then turned into every Wednesday night, every Tuesday night and often one other night of the week. Church was the norm. But this was different.
Recently I've been going through some changes. My church that I've attended since I was 7 was a place I. just. didn't. belong. I was always taught that that is no reason to leave a church. So I stayed. Awkwardly. Often alone. And confused. These changes I were experiencing were beyond confusing. The same things I've been taught since I was 7.... they just weren't making sense anymore.
I found myself struggling to believe most of it.
I read this book. If my church were to have a banned book list. This would have been on it.
I watched this video. I almost cried. If you haven't yet, please do.
These put into words what I have been feeling.
Yes. I love Jesus. But, honestly. I have come to hate religion.
I know that sounds so blasphemous. But it's not. I've always said "I don't believe in religion, I believe in relationship!" But I was still missing the point. Simply because my "religion" doesn't look as rule following, or strict as some others. I was blinded. It was just as much religion bull as anything else.
Suddenly my eyes had been cleared. I always felt I was surrounded by a sea of fake people. But now it felt worse. We preach against being pharasitical. Referring to "those" pharisees. Beware of them.
WE have become the pharisees. Don't you see? Using lofty, eloquent prayers in public, setting impossible standards, not loving everyone, not reaching out.
I made the decision to no longer attend my church and it was one of the hardest, most painful, best, happiest, ugliest, challenging decisions I've ever made. Please hear me. I really love that church. Still do. They are family, too. I've grown up there. Since I was barely seven. There are people I ache for, wishing they will see what I see and come on this journey with me. I love them. But it was time.
I took a little hiatus from church in general. Trying to truly figure out, if that's not what I believe, what exactly do I believe?? I had a lot of questions, but not a tremendous amount of answers.
What does a life of loving Jesus look like without religion? How can I live that?
I read this book. I recommend it.
Finally this Sunday- February 19, 2012. I visited a new church with a friend. It was scary. Intimidating. I've never really attended another church. But when I walked through the doors. There was peace. And I could feel it.
The music started. We sang. I couldn't help but let my eyes wander around the room. There was so much diversity... not what I was used to. There were so many people my age... not what I was used to.
The pastor began to teach. And the tears began to flow.
About 15 minutes into the service I started crying. And it didn't stop.
He was teaching about all the very questions I had been asking... but he had answers. Wait. Let me rephrase that. The Bible had answers. He simply put them in a context (the correct context, I might add) that brought light to everything. It all made sense again.
I sat there overwhelmed. Coming to the conclusion that I have been taught lies since I was so young. Unintentionally... hurt was never meant, they are simply just misguided. But to also know I was finding answers. Truth. There was GRACE in his teaching. There was love. Not condemnation. There was truth.
It was liberating.
And I am excited.
Liberation and excitement is exactly what this girl needs.