Losing Church and Finding God
Those that have been burned, figuratively speaking, by the church sometimes lose God in their lives. If they're lucky they find a better relationship with him outside of church. I'm happy to say I've reached that point, but not before going through hell inside the walls of numerous churches.
A brief history of my church experiences include my first- age 8. My mom and I attended a church before my dad and her divorced. When word of the divorce got around the church, we were all but banished. Losing her hope in church, my mom and I didn't go back for quite some time.
My next church experience was in high school. My mom loved this church, but I hated it because the pastor's kids were bullies and snobs at school. Not to mention, they took drugs too. This is where I get criticized by all the really religious folk who adamantly appeal to my sensible side and tell me I shouldn't expect church folk, including and especially, the Pastor's kids to be any better or above anybody else. I don't, but I do expect a certain level of honesty in God's house. Many church members knew of their shenanigans, but still spoke of them as if they were better than all the kids in town. Now, it would be one thing if they covered it up or never spoke of the kids, but to go out of their way and mention how great they were is pure lying.
My adulthood consisted of a few other negative experiences and it's safe to say I gave the church thing a fair shot. I really did. All I got from it was a distaste for religion, but worse, for God. I lumped God and church into one inseparable, negative hole in my heart and soul.
I missed God in my life for several years and it still saddens me to think back on that time. How silly could I be for thinking that God would not accept me nor could I accept God without going to church? It was all or nothing, a destructive way of thinking in any situation. More of my logic concluded since the church hurt me, so did God.
Do you think God intended churches to be what they are today? What purpose does church serve?
Finding God outside of a church takes more effort, more time, and more regular devotion than going to church and meeting a weekly quota.
Why people lose God
During my years without God, I didn't identify with Atheists. I just didn't belong anywhere- God or no God. I noticed that Atheists have issues with both church AND God. I was never able to convince myself that I had an issue with God or a true lack of belief in Him, but church, yes. I wonder how many Atheists out there lump the church and Him into one ball of wax, maybe missing the point of God. 'The Priests abused yet another child in the church, therefore there is no God'. I couldn't follow that generalized logic.
God is not an institution, but our society is very much in love with the idea of groups and institutions of beliefs- facebook groups, vegetarians vs. non-vegetarians, higher education, the society of this or that, etc.God gets confused as an institution or group of people. The issue isn't with the impossibility or constraints within church or religion. How many people, like myself have bad experiences with churches or those representing and belonging to a religion, and we lose God as well?
Hypocrisy, judgment, sin and exploitation are everywhere, but some places we have a choice to avoid it and one of those is church. We shouldn't have to tolerate that just to be with and celebrate God. If we are not similar to the people in a church, we will begin to doubt God too. I choose to avoid church so I can believe. If I was in a relationship or job with negative factors, shouldn't I cease being with that person or working that job? Why do you think people go to work for themselves- love the job, but not the bosses and co-workers. Don't like churches or the people? Don't give up on God.
Separating church and God
You know how a lot of your logic and thoughts are actually formed from others, like your teachers, parents, the news, books, and role models throughout your life? You begin believing what you think is original, but then you realize it's regurgitated crap from the influences of others. You think one thing and suddenly you hear something new and now that's the gospel. Now take a giant leap back and begin searching for yourself under mounds of everyone else's beliefs; peel away the layers. This is what I had to do to get back to God.
I had to read the Bible, not my mom reading it to me as a kid or various pastors reading passages to me throughout my life. I had to read it and understand it for myself. I simply couldn't let anyone do the believing for me and I couldn't live vicariously through others' experience with God. If I didn't experience God for myself, he was merely an institution or alive only through a Pastor's words.
It takes a lot more effort, time, and consistent devotion to be with God outside of church. Church is a ready-made atmosphere for worshipping, practically no effort needs to be made; just show up for your weekly quota. I may get some criticisms here, but when church isn't in the equation, the focus is on God, not the activities or people within a church.
- Begin talking to God and starting a relationship. Pray.
- Take your time reading the Bible. Meditate on passages that are relevant to you.
- Find inspiration. For me, this is watching televised sermons or religious inspiration shows.
- Belong to a community or group of friends with similar beliefs. A sense of community is important.
For quite some time, the Christian communities our nation was built on, are crumbling. The blame has been thrown around, from political parties to an evolving society and values, but blame can also be placed upon the churches themselves. If there is gossip or harmful negativity, it needs to be addressed and confronted by others in the church. I know there are scores of people increasingly discouraged by church experiences and giving up on God too. If necessary, lose church and find God.
- Reasons Why People Quit Church
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