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Losing Church and Finding God

Updated on January 18, 2011

Church hurts

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.

Finding God

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.


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    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 4 years ago from The Great Northwest

      My experience with church is that I do not want to attend a place and subject myself over and over to scrutiny or judgment. I would not expect to attend or stay with any person either who made me feel bad about myself. I guess also there's the fake factor too. When people are every nice and I can't stand fake. These people are super nice then later you find out they abuse their kids, one is on drugs, etc. If church were a place to go for REAL people I'd be in, but majority are not. I'm sure great ones are out there or people find their perfect match, but I haven't.

      I worked for a place that was rude to it's employees and employees were backstabbing- which is probably many places of business, but I decided not to put up with it anymore and began working for myself.

    • profile image

      Sanctuary 4 years ago

      I have been where you our all my life. For twenty years I never even had a choice, there was not church to visit where I was. One has to define the purpose for church in the first place and I find that most people have it backwards. Spiritual maturity is learned and achieved not at church but in every day life. One can only save or judge themselves and the shoes we wear are many but belong to the individual. We take chances on others in a very evil World and must overcome are greatest challenges. What church could possibly walk in your shoes, take your chances, live your life and most of all judge you. If you do not practice to over come your sins, spiritual maturity can not be attained and we all have our own sins to deal with. Even harder are the sins of others that you must over come. Remember some things must be let go or you will join them in the pit. Sometimes you grow faster when the World of perfect people are no longer holding you back. Most are far from perfect outside the theater and yes the perfect performance requires great sacrifice. Something the perfect have never had to work for.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 4 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks for stopping by MickeyDee. I respect your work on Hubpages. I agree with you on a lot of the institution of God. I think I have a lack of trust in institutions as well.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 4 years ago

      Very beautiful hub. God is not an institution. There are Biblical verses to substantiate the assembly of God's people. But Jesus was a Jew and then Jesus was independent.We have the God given right to have a personal relationship with God. I need no mediary or clergy to interpret the Word. There is no clear consensus on the nature of God.

      I would never have a child to trust another adult and confess sins to men or women. Preachers and priests have proven their treachery. Jesus was offered the world thousands of years ago. Jesus is not in charge of this world today. History continues to be written and rewritten by the victors. Wall Street ie banks rule the nation as well as secret societies. The benevolent God is not ruling our Earth. We are told to pray as such, "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your will be done, Your kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven...

      I am a Vietnam Veteran and I trust very little. May the benevolent God bless you.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest


      I agree but I don't blame women as much as society in general. Feminism is mainstream thought now so you can't blame anyone growing up today. I don't believe white man is keeping blacks down just as I don't think the gneral threat of men bringing women down is valid anymore. We "won" that fight lets move on. I worte another hub about "How Women Forgot to be Women". The sad shame is I am a very stron woman, I'd like to think fairly intelligent, and well educated, yet I am extrememly disraced in soceity and continuously looked down upon. Why? I stay at home with my kids, I cook dinner every night for my family, I take pride in what makes me a It wasn't always like this. I used to have my eyes set on men in general and they were my target competition. I had to make more, work harder, etc. than them.

      My point is that society is feeding women a lie and it's damaging men in the mean time. I agree with many of your points. I know you've probably felt all this before or witnessed it. I have never trusted church men- I've known some who turned out to be bad boys, both preacher's sons.

      Another issue is women need society's approval- tht is their self-esteem. And men need a woman to stroke their ego a little- that is their self-esteem. Society is rewarding women for not needing a man, raising kids without them, gaining the jobs and education beyond men.

      P.S I just wrote a new hub about Guns, but it has to do with issues about young men and I mentioned you (not by name) but that a "commenter" who forwarded me that article on Psychology today- it's really inspired me to think about this issue.

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      Mattywilliams 5 years ago

      Izettl: Holmes is what I would consider a "narcissistic Nice guy"...He probably spent his whole life acting like a goody good Christian/nerd....than got extremely angry when he saw what he considered the "hypocrisy" of Christian women and women in general....Probably felt extremely disrespected (by women in particular) which hurt his self esteem greatly....Than I would imagine he lost interest in religion (because like I said he tried the "Jesus root" while angrily watching all the cocky bad boys get all the chicks."

      Men who feel disrespected/humiliated are extremely dangerous.....I would imagine that while he was shooting the people in the theater he was thinking something like "Whose the nice guy now in an aggressive tone".....Same with Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tuscon etc etc....the same exact psychology behind all these murders...insecure masculinity prompted by a variety of factors (being rejected by women a main one)

      Plus theres also the fact that all these rampage killers are virgins...and well sex does calm you and reduce aggression....Plus it boasts your sense of worse/confidence knowing that you've been deemed attractive by members of the opposite sex.....Holmes probably felt humiliated and decided to act out in a psychopathic way to sure up his masculinity

      I think some of these guys may have underlying mental problems....but some don't

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Shana~ Thanks for reading. I know you have been one devoted girl for life. I admire that and I had to come to it my own way I suppose. I did the church and God for others (to please others) for so long that when I stopped going to church, I realized I had no idea who Jesus was, who God was in my life. I don't think I ever stopped believing, but stopped thinking about God for a few years...sad but true.

      You are so lucky to have found a pastor who encourages openness. I guess it's like college in that some professors encourage discussion and even disagreement and openness, but others don't and I don't learn much from those churches. It seems like everyone is just going through the motions. I know you've been through some tough times and I am happy to hear you have had support from your church.

      I attend my mom's current church from time to time and enjoy a sense of community there, but it's very tight knit and a lot of older folks who "run" it. I took my daughter to a church daycare when she was a baby. When I lost my job I continued to go to that church and I just couldn't find my way in there with the people. Mostly because I don't hold people in churches above me or anyone else, but they do. Many of the women I tlaked with, I told them I was staying home with my baby (not working) and they were saying how wonderful it was, then condemming mothers who worked. I thought to myself, I would have been working still if I hadn't had lost my job in the recession so was I a bad person? No. Not to mention working in the restaurant industry for so long and waiting on people after church...the meanest of the mean were the ones from church.

      I tend to do the "work" more when I'm not going to church. I regularly read in the Bible, discuss things and pray with my daughter, etc. Sometimes I convince my mom and her husband to skip church and have it at our home and we have so much fun...and it gets my husband involved, which is good for him too. We really get a chance to discuss things in the Bible. I'm pretty stubborn so I'm still up for trying to find a good church. i have faith!

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      Shana 5 years ago

      I love it! You are so right! And this comes from a regular attending church girl. Church was originally intended to be exactly what you talked about. A group of people who all believe in God and support eachother in that belief. A group of accountability and support.

      Unfortunately, there will never be a perfect church because churches are made up of imperfect people. And you are right, the focus should be on building a relationship with God, not in building a religion and a list of boxes to check off. The problem is that when people are involved in a church they often forget that there is homework! We are expected to read our bibles outside of church and spend time praying and worshipping outside of church. When these things don't happen, our relationship becomes either a religion or nonexistent.

      However, I do think church is important. It's a matter of finding the right one and that can be difficult. As I said before, church is meant to be a community of believers who support eachother in their belief and submit themselves to accountability with eachother. I love my church. Have I always loved my church? No. There have been times where I have questioned my pastor, disagreed with others in leadership and times where I've had to apologize for my own mistakes. Fortunately, I have a pastor who encourages open discussion and questions. I have a community who accepts that we all make mistakes and have to in order to grow and learn. This same community has been there to support me over the last 10 years and the various trials that I've walked through. They are my second family and I wish everyone could find one like I have.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Holmes probably has some form of narcissism, which he would not kill himself if that's the case. In the shoot out near my residence, at a mall, witnesses say when he was shooting he blanked out, but then it seemed he "came to" and realized what he had done then balled himself up in a corner and shot himself.

      I still think it has something to do with desensitization with video games, tv, etc. I am raising two children and i see how just one show my daughter learns stuff from or a passing commercial when my husband is watching tv and she learns something not so good. Kids are very susceptible and I believe with less stay-at-home parents and mostly busy parents that kids are spending more time on a tech gadget of some sort with no one to tell them what it right or wrong because the parent probably doesnt even know what info they're receiving from a video game or tv, online, etc.

      I'm very much a behavioral advocate when it comes to any school of psychology so I agree with the article you linked to. A video game rewards by passing a level, high score ,etc but htat is not a social reward and most ultimately crave that.

    • profile image

      Mattywilliams 5 years ago

      I'll answer more in depth about religion tomorrow...But this article basically sums up my thoughts on James Holmes

      Now Holmes didn't kill himself whereas the vast majority of rampage killers do kill themselves at the end. That indicates to me a more carefully crafted plan to benefit from his attack as opposed to just an angry depressed guy trying to get his revenge who then kills himself at the end....Holmes had no intention of killing himself but the motive is similiar to the others that do.

      No all rejected low status men do not go on killing sprees...99% don't (through I would expect that alot commit suicide) and there is no real reason to fear the shy kid who doesn't have any friends/women etc.....Is he possible more likely to do such an attack??? Yes....but like I said 99 percent don't

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Matty~ By revealing yoursel in so many of your comments, I'm learning that many of your perceptions have big holes in them.

      If you have studied in science, you will learn that religion has not been proven OR disproven so you can in no way say there is no religion because I can say...where is your proof? I do not believe in religion but I do believe in a higher power. My reasoning is that evolution itsel is faulty- we have not evolved in any way for as long as we have recorded history. Humans are humans. If we evolved from a single cell or some barely-there life form then why is it we stopped evolving...and where did that barely-there speck of life form come from?

      If we're ighly evolved apes, where did the apes come from? And why aren;t more specks becoming apes and more apes becoming human?

      Society has evolved though- and that is why civilization would be the main reason why men do not act like primates.

      So all rejected men go out on shootings? I think not. You have to then reason why is it that some men choose to commit crimes from rejection and other don't. That may be easier to answer in terms of mental illness. And why does religion save some men, but not others? I think there are equally ill women out there who choose a-holes over nice guys.

    • profile image

      Mattywilliams 5 years ago

      Their is no God....Many people are just terrified of admitting that life's completely random and that their is no they cling to religion or spirituality.

      Religion is probably very psychologically beneficial to women (since women are naturally optimistic and tend to believe/hope that life has a purpose and that something is guiding and looking out for them and their children) it is deeply soothing to them and factors into a women biological need to be protected and that their life will turn out well because everything happens for a reason.

      Does everything happen for a reason in reality?? Of course not....We are just highly evolved apes who need religion because we are the only creatures on the planet that are aware of our impending mortality. It's complete bullshit.

      But it is in many cases NOT at all psychologically beneficial to men....Basically it feminizes men and tricks them into acting in ways that will not help them mentally or reproductively....It creates a group of good goody nice guys which then get taken advantage of (and rightly so) and ignored by women even Christian women...which then leads these men to feel very bitter/resentful and inadequate....And a bitter resentful lonely man is a suicide (or worse a rampage suicide) waiting to happen.

      Religion basically tricks naive men into acting AGAINST their innate primal nature....Which just leads to rejection and feelings of inadequacy (which like I said can often lead to inward and tragically sometimes outward aggression) The douchebags on the other hand just follow their innate desires and do quite well with chicks and rarely have these feelings of inadequacy...Even chicks that love "Jesus" can't get enough of these cocky douchebags....and in a perfect society every man would be a cocky douchebag.

      Now that doesn't mean you should be a complete ahole or purposely disrespectful to others...But you definitely should be slightly narcissistic and put yourself before anyone this will make you psychologically healthy.

      I guarantee James Holmes the batman shooter was probably a goody good Christian altar boy at first....who then eventually became extremely resentful and lonely after being disrespected and rejected over and over again (and the rejection was ALL his fault)...and than decided he was tired of being so nice. So he lashed out in the most psychopathic way possible against a society that he felt was extremely hypocritical..

      Cowardly??? Absolutely but calling him a coward is not going to prevent the next forever alone nice beta guy from snapping. We need to teach all men to reject religion and act like cocky's really the best for them psychologically.

      Religion does not help men psychologically.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      EnglishM` Thank you very much and right you are!

    • profile image

      EnglishM 5 years ago

      Great hub. You're on the right track. According to the teachings of Jesus, God does not dwell in hand-made temples. The baby tiger beckons.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks Historicus. wise words and I'm glad someone took my hub for what it was meant.

    • Historicus profile image

      Jerry Desko 5 years ago from Cashtown, PA

      Being that man is imperfect any institution including churches or religions will be imperfect also. The problem is finding those institutions you can agree with is the problem.

      Your thoughts are refreshing. I am glad you discovered that God and churches or religions are not synonymous.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      gmwilliams~ I also think organized religion has ruined spirituality and a relationship with God because many don't like churches. Church and God are not the same. I agree with your entire comment actually and thank you for stopping by.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To izetti: Great hub! I am a spiritual person of the New Age bent. I do not believe in any form of organized religion. I believe that organized religion with its arcane rules are so archaic in this modern day and age.

      It is time to separate religion from God. The two are not synonyms. There are many so-called religious people who are far from godly; in fact, they are more satanic. I find religious people who be so judgemental of people who have different religious and/or moral beliefs than they do. However, I find spiritual people to be so accepting and embracing of everyone. God is in everyone who is good not just the so called religious and churchgoing people.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Anon~ love your comment- precisely what I feel, especially that last paragraph. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

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      Anon. 7 years ago

      I know what you mean. I think if Jesus came back he would have a lot of issues with the way churches run things today anyway. I suspect most of them wouldn't even like him so you'd be in good company.

      Private devotions are fine and if God so wills it, he might want to keep my devotions private. Perhaps he just wants me to himself for that time every day.

      In any case, it's really all in his hands what happens to me.

      I've had a lot of problems with bullies in my life. I guess it had to happen in church as well, so I wasn't too shocked when it did.

      God knows all about that I suspect. If I'm to meet with like minded people, he'll arrange for that to happen. If not, then maybe he's happy with the way things are. And I'm happy with that.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      W.B Isley~ I like what you've said here. I hope you write something on this- it's a great topic. i especially like your last paragrap abou once and addict always an addict- God doesn't see it that way, why should we? Take care.

    • W. B. Isley profile image

      W. B. Isley 7 years ago from Monett, MO


      I grew up a staunch scientific creationist. I had all the faith anyone could want and I had no logic. Then I found a good description of how evolution could have happened while still having faith in God. Now I have been able to merge faith and logic. I will write a couple of hubs on this in the future. For now, it stems from the philosophical use of Einsteins equation - E=mc^2. Energy equals mass times the velocity of light squared.

      What this says in English is that for any amount of energy you have you can convert it into mater and back. The philosophy of it is that everything is made of energy. Matter is made of molecules are made of atoms are made of protons, neutrons, electrons, and smaller stuff. That cute little electron does not exist until you go to look for it. 'Til then it is only a possibility, energy if you will.

      The Gospel of John 1:1-3 is a hidden reference to God using it's energy to make everything you see. Einstein's equation can be used as a kind of 'proof' when you say your inner relationship with God is the real one. Since I have begun to understand this on a faith level it has made a big difference in my walk with God, for I realize that I have never been separated from God. At one point in Psalms David says that if I go to the lowest depths of hell there God is.

      It is late and I must be able to think tomorrow. I will leave you with the ramblings of one who hasn't been to church regularly since I found the spirituality of Overeaters Anonymous. I have grown past the belief that 'Once an addict always an addict.' I no longer believe this as I have grown into a fuller relationship with the God within me. I am a new being because of it.

      Have fun. It makes time go by faster.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      elefanza~ Well, I had a reply but my laptop battery went dead and erased what I had written so here's a quick recap: the women who shared their faith with each other to deal with male domintaed world, I can relate. I have my faith to deal with the world in general.

      I like to appease to the logical people and say even if there is no God, faith is a great coping mechanism. It's been said without hope, you have nothing. To me faith and hope are similar because some people without hope turn to faith and then, what I call, a miracle sometimes happens. Also those that believe in any God, are happier people in general (according to scientific studies)so what has anyone got to lose?

      For me, I just can't picture the world without a God. It doesn't feel right. And people say that is just a feeling, but so is love. No one can actually prove love either and I can feel that.

      I'm glad you got to have a good conversation with someone- it's great to talk to people who have similar or not similar beliefs as you. I wish I had the time again to seek knowledge like you, but my time is taken up a lot by my daughter. I just realized I learned so much about so many things before I had her- I had a wealth of book knowledge and now having her, I've learned so much about myself and the learning process (watching her learn things).

      Thanks for the conversation too.

    • Elefanza profile image

      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Hey Izettl,

      Man, it feel like you've lived a good chunk of my life with some of the advice you give! I've started opening up a little in speaking to people. Everyone has their own journey and I feel as though mine doesn't have a place it "belongs," something I recognize most people feel. But today, I did share some of that journey with someone else and even though I know we have our own perspectives and experience, it just felt nice to have such a refreshing conversation.

      Anyway, I think I do understand what you're saying in my own way and I feel as though I understood the woman I talked to as well even though society says I'm suposed to see the two perspectives as different. It was the most amazing thing! Anyway, I went to this discussion in college in the women's seminar and it was on women and faith. Listening to these women talk about the complexity of their experience, I still find myself nodding my head in agreement at the insight they gained.

      They all came from very different journeys, but they were still struggling with how to interpret their journey. And then they started talking about the medieval writings of some of the women of faith (and having read some of them, it really is quite fascinating, esp. considering how male-dominated the world was) and how those women recreated their faith and formed deeper connections with other women as a way to survive the male-dominated society. And I didn't understand it at that time, but now, it makes sense in a very odd, unexpected way.

      I don't know if I'm right or wrong to see it this way. I feel as though mostly, I'm trying to overcome all the past mistakes I made and understand how I can pay foward all the insight I've gained. "Do you lose sleep like me?" Oh man! I think we could probably laugh at some of the worries we have -- but they seem so real! I hate "getting it wrong," but seeing other people get it wrong and learn to laugh at themself has taught me that the quirky beauty I see in stories does apply.

      Anyway, thanks for the opennss and dialog. Its helped so much. :)

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Elefanza~ I can relate to what you say about being an individual in a relationship. I think women in general are prone to this. I guess that's why I have an outlet like hubpages to keep my thoughts my own. I think my husband has read about 2 or 3 of my 100+ hubs. My husband and I are opposite on a lot of things so it's not unusual for us to disagree- in a good way. Somehow I do wish we didn't disagree on the faith in God thing.

      I like the story and your analogy- I'm nodding my head to that one.

      I tend to be one that shares stuff to either reaffirm something I think about or to learn other perspectives. I find it rewarding and I think it's great you can share this. When I think of what we're talking about in particular, one phrase comes to my mind about you; seek and you shall find. Don't cut off your curiosity and seeking to find answers; remember (this one I had to learn) answers don't aways come from a book. The worst thing to do is not be open and discuss with others- something may click someday for you. We don't always have to be 100% on everything. There are days I have doubts about a God, but those are days when I doubt everthing in my life so I take it in stride. I see that open cinversations I've had in the past and experiences I've had all led to where I am now in my faith- it wasn't an overnight decision and I would doubt anbody who never doubted a God. To me, and I could be wrong it's only my opinion, those people have been a little brainwashed- those that grew up in church and never knew any different. How much of that is conformity versus real faith.

      Ironically, I had two great guy friends many years ago- one in high school and one as a co-worker. I lost touch with them and made contact with them about two years ago. All of us were not in any way religious when we knew each other and now we all are. We all came from different backgrounds too. In fact, one of them is now a pastor. I respect their faith. THey came to it on their own as I have done as well.

      I completely appreciate your candor here with me. Even though we havea lot in common, I still feel we can learn from each other too. You are very knowledgeable and share things that I had no idea about.

      Do you lose sleep like me? Just kidding but I can tell your brain works overtime. I think a lot and we've discussed this a little, is to not overthink things. I told you I almost talked myself out of marrying and having a child. I definitely overthink things and when I let go of that it was easier to let my faith guide me. I am not trying to convince you that you should believe in God and all that- it never worked for me when people shared their stories of finding God. It's personal- bottom line. And now I sound like a broken record.

    • Elefanza profile image

      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Thanks again for the response. My husband has his own understanding and I'm realizing that just because he can tear apart some of the ways I understand it does not mean that he is "right." It's just that he and I think so similar and have been together so long that it's hard to remember that I'm a "me" as well.

      Anyway, you talk about the certainty that you've found AND I think that's really awesome. I've seen people who've found that and it's very beautiful. I think if I could offer one insight I've gained -- and feel free to disagree -- it would be the insight of the parable Jesus tells of the man who finds a pearl in the field and then hides it deep into the earth again before going out and selling everything. I've never understood why he had to hide that pearl back in the earth, but now, it makes so much sense. Some things are meant to remain hidden, like fuel hiding in the inner parts of a car that, though not seen, makes the engine run.

      Anyway, that's my insight and I feel a wee bit foolish sharing it. It seems to be a paradox in the sharing of it, eh? But, you seem the kind of person that might appreciate that bit. Either way, I'm still musing on that bit and what it means. :)

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      No worries. I read comments every couple of days and to some of the longer ones that I'm invested in more, I like to think it over. It's good you make me think.

      My husband also has his own, and very different, toughts about religion and belief than I do. He thinks God is not loving, if there is a God and he also points out all the discrepencies in the Bible. I realize maybe mroe than most believers that faith and belief in God is personal. I would be exhausted trying to tell someone how to believe. I think many go to church to believe and if they don't go to church, they lose their faith. THe fact that I don't go to church and do all of my "worship" and prayer on my own is my testimonial to what I believe to be true faith. I don't need to got to church to prove or affirm anything with myself or others. Like I said before, I wish I could give away my certainty to others to feel this way too. Either a certainty for belief in God or a certainty of no God. It is hard to be stuck in the middle- I think you are and my husband is. I was for many years too. Be true to yourself, whicheve way that goes, but always be open to miracles and signs- they're there.

      I learned the stories in the Bible from being a kid and my extent of reading the BIble is reading various passages at certain times when I need it. I haven't "studied" the bible though. I bet if I picked it apart and studied it wiht my over analytical brain, I'd destroy it and my faith.

    • Elefanza profile image

      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Ah, don't feel the need to reply to all that. It's hard to find thinking people of a faith perspective to talk about all this. I'm coming to new realizations and so am happy just for that. Thanks for taking the time you did! :)

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      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Thank you for your kind response! Loving this dialog and hope you are getting as much out of it as I am. Reading some of your experiences – especially the one about how you nearly talked yourself out of getting married – felt like reading bits of my own life. I love how you define faith. That makes so much sense! Some parts of the faith process are something I’m currently working on integrating into my life so I can overcome certain areas in me that I struggle with.

      Your other hub about having an atheist for a father and a believer for a mother resonated with me, though not in the way you might expect. My husband has become an agnostic and talking to him about faith and God isn’t something I do anymore. Faith was something that played a very important role in my life and was something I relied on to get through some tough times whereas he grew up being forced to go to church every Sunday (although I still respect his parents’ faith a lot). Looking at his life, it’s hard to talk to him about our experiences regarding faith because he’s never needed it. Yet being in the Bible belt and seeing how faith has meant the death of the intellect for so many, it’s hard not to listen to his criticisms and see their merit. For him, having faith in God means sacrificing his identity as a thinking person – a struggle I can relate to. If faith is that thing that can only be embraced in the moments where you stop asking questions/thinking/striving to understand, than can it ever be authentically yours?

      I imagine you and I are both story kind of people, gathering insights from stories that others miss, seeing value in things that more pragmatic/logical people might not see. When you talked about finding peace with God amid the hard circumstances, I immediately thought of Habakkuk and his statement at the end. Even if everything is going wrong, I still believe, he says and it makes so much sense for that moment in the story and it’s something he comes to honestly and authentically. Reading the text, I feel as though it would be okay to say at this point that I just don’t know, but that I’m struggling to get to that point where I can know what is true. So I keep reading and thinking and writing.

      Anyway, I like your idea of coffee. It would be fun to share stories. I can identify with your wanting to share about what you’ve experienced. I think sometimes it would be so neat to be the kind of person who could help others to really appreciate the value of the Bible and all its complexity and process of questioning. To really understand and teach the literary side of the Bible. Anyway, I think I shall go write as I feel as though I could spend all day on this as well. Hope your writing process is going well and you're in good spirits!

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      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Elefanza~ we humans can sometimes take a beautiful thing like faith and rip it to ugly shreds, meaning that people will use deception and gullability to prey off others- that's not faith.

      I am forever grateful that I have come to my faith and God on my own terms and not just part of a "following" or because I don't know any better. One of the reasons I don't go to church is because I see how it actually tears people apart. It usually molds them into something they aren't, by following principles that they normally wouldn't or ganging up on each other to prove who knows more from the bible or who leads a more Christ-like life. I don't need the recognition or hurrah about it, but part of me would love to convince everyone to find the peace in God and faith that I've found, but I respect those who have their own thoughts- I respect individuality. I've never been a "follower" type. I doubt you have either. We have our own thoughts, right?

      Don't think too hard, you'll go round and round and nobody's logic is perfect so you may be cheating yourself of a better destination if you don't just try to get there, but just go in circles.

      As for the stories; Every institution, including religion, has it's faults. Wherever people are, things are bound to get a little screwed up. If you heard stories of women getting abused and tortured (which happens a lot) by their husbands, would you lose your faith in marriage and never get married. I'm a thinker like you and I almost talked myself out of marriage and having a child because marriage is at least 50% likely to fail- logically that would be silly to get married then, but I took a leap of faith. Same with having a child. We hear of school shootings and they actually happen more often than what is reported on the news, BUT we still put our kids in school and try to find a good school if we can. There are good churches and bad- they jsut aren't for me right now. In the cases of people getting misled (cults, odd religious rules) they are ofte misled to begin with. People who are "lost" are more likely to find the wrong things. Psychologically, people will gravitate toward things that reassure themselves of beliefs they already have. You and me would know better than to not take our inhaler everywhere if we needed it. There was something already wrong with that person or they were coerced by parents. THat;s what I dislike is parents pushing their beliefs onto kids- that's a whole other topic.

      You have faith everyday- if you went to school, got married, etc. But I know your struggle is with the existance of God- probably, I'm only guessing. And that too takes complete faith- jump in or jump out, or wade in the pool, that's the choices. For me personally, the best things happen when I've taken a leap of faith. I've had some bad experiences too and most tempt to lead me away from my beliefs rather than closer to it, but many years ago I had one bad-ish experience and this time it led me straight, no questions asked, to my belief in God. I wish I could give that to everyone. When you say what's right for you, that's the best way to do it. I know what you mean about religion and insanity- Google religion and mental illness. I've always wanted to know why the mentally ill are so attracted to religion, but from what I've read it's mostly because mental illnesses usually include some paranoia so being paranoid, you'd probably want a "God" on your side. I think there is much error in everything we humans touch, like the judicial system, politics- both screwed up but influence our life a lot.

      Well, I could discuss this all day with you so I better go. Wish we could just sit and have some coffee or tea and hang out talking about everything. I miss having inquisative and intellectual friends- seems I've lost a lot of my friends to Facebook- eek!!

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      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      I hear what you're saying. I see many admirable portraits of faith and so from these portraits, I think that faith has a validity even if it's not always spelled out in the logic that we would like. I've had to go through some trials that others my age have not and have relied heavily on faith to get me through them. The experiences I had during those times will always be a part of me and it's something that means I'm never as certain about these matters as I'd like to be.

      I feel as though I should apologize off the bat if I say anything that is unintentionally offensive. Everyone has their own vantage point and everyone seems convinced that theirs is the right one. I don’t know that my vantage point is “right,” but at the moment, it’s right for me only because it allows me the freedom to question every perspective – something I tried to repress when I was more “religious.” Regarding faith, I do think that the right kind can really help out, but there’s also this part of it that is dangerous and harmful. Some well-meaning people do really foolish things for faith. Until some level of wisdom is reached regarding how to distinguish between the positive element of faith and the negative, how do you determine what role faith, especially faith in God, plays in your life? My mom once told me the story of an asthmatic who attended a bible study without her inhaler. Having an inhaler would violate the meaning of having faith. During the study, she had an asthmatic attack and died. I can’t even imagine the conversations that followed this event or how it changed her family’s stance on faith, but I still remember my grandfather’s bitterness with God for taking his son away too soon. I don’t cite this story to say that faith isn’t valid but rather to say that faith is one of those areas that has the potential to undue us.

      Consequently, I once read that Jews didn’t let people under 30 read Ezekiel because they were worried the youth would be carried away by trying to have that same experience. Believing in God might make some people happy because it frees them from having to really question themselves, their cultural bias and their own moral standing, yet for me, having faith has become something I question because of humanity’s error regarding faith and how it works. For some, having faith is inextricably tied with what seems a plunge into insanity. As desirable as faith seems to be, it seems that better instruction is needed in regards to it to prevent the above scenarios. Unfortunately, I’m still thinking and rethinking this issue and would like to give the two perspectives a deeper treatment at some point.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      sonia~ very well put and so true. Exactly my point here.

      Elefanza~ It's something I've given a lot of thought on. It really wasn't until I had to reason through a lot of though spots in my life. I use the word "reason" because there was no logical explanation for some of the trials and tribulations in my life. Logic hasn't gotten me through tough times either, whereas faith and hope have. I know one thing- studies done on people who have faith in God are happier so there is some logic. I know what you are saying about all this though and I always find myself thinking and questioning both logic and faith in God. Its only when I think of what's right for me so it is very personal.

    • Elefanza profile image

      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Thanks for that thought on logic. It's been kind of hard to pin down the words to say what I don't trust about it when it's defined as the ultimate answer. As for faith being more stable, that's something I'm still thinking about and questioning. It's kind of like a knot that never seems to unravel in the way that makes sense, but I keep trying.

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      sonia05 7 years ago from india

      A place of worship does not mean direct access to God.God can be found anywhere and a direct connection also can be made irrespective of any religion.Worshipping him in any form and in any place is one's own choice.The essence of worship is not visiting a Church but finding God,seeking God,connecting with God anywhere,anytime!!!!!

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Elefanza~ I have seen, and you probably agree, there are many flaws in logic too. My husband sees the discrepencies within the Bible and history- he is a history buff and black and white logical. When it comes to logic, not much is actually proven though. Something that is proven must not be able to be disproved which is almost impossible for most everything. I can't put all my "faith" into logic becuse it doesn't make sense either. In psychology I read about how mental illness was treated 1+ centuries ago and they'd put holes in people's heads and other things we'd consider brutal in today's times. However, I know that someday people will find it brutal the way we treat cancers, such as radiation, etc. So logic is really dependent on the times and age we live in.The scientific method was originated by man and therefore has flaws so just because we can't prove God or faith with the scientific method- all have one thing in common (man makes them what they are). Science can be very bias. Basically, what is right and proven today, will be disproven and wrong tomorrow. With this perspective, faith is more constant and stable than logic.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      W.K.Hayes~ you are so right about sermons- many take one verse and talk about it the whole time. Basically, they take it out of context too and expand on it in a far fetched way. i have been to "entertaining" churches too and have not felt God or closer to him in any way. Thank you so much for your comment here.

    • W. K. Hayes profile image

      Warren Keith Hayes 7 years ago from Bryson City, North Carolina

      What you have written here holds a lot more truth than most people are willing to admit. A few years back, I went to church with a dear friend after a year of him asking me to.

      The preacher grabbed up the bible, quoted one verse from it and spent the next hour going on and on about apples and worms. My thought on the matter, 'How can anyone learn about God when the sermon was about everything but his word'?

      The short and the quick of it, if a person wants to learn about God, ask God? Don't waste time on the shows these churches present. Ask the big man, himself.

      Practice grabbing up your Bible and ask the Lord to show you what he would have you learn. Open the Bible and read the first thing you come to and think about what it is saying and how it bears on your life.

      Another time, I tried going to church with a friend in a completely different state. They didn't even open the bible one time but man, what a show they put on for the people. That as very disappointing to me.

      The way I look at God is fairly simple, if you want to know about God, ask God. I mean, why ask someone else that has read the Bible about God when you ask God, yourself.

      Very great article. Thank you.

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      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Yeah, I can see what you mean about faith and logic. My husband is incredibly logical and it's hard to explain to him how there are some things that are beyond logic. I haven't succeeded yet, but I'm glad you see that point. It's something I'm still trying to work on/ figure out within myself. It's hard because w/ faith there are no hard cut answers and this makes me wary because of how many things out there are waiting to scam those with "blind faith."

      I have read The Shack and did find a lot of his points very refreshing and teaching. I'd also recommend anything by Brennan Manning and Phillip Yancey -- I still adore those guys because of how they dig through the tough issues and don't shy away from the hard questions. You might appreciate Anne Lamott -- she's hilarious! You're right -- it is very personal. Thanks for writing so kindly. Always good to see your stuff! I feel I can still relate much to your journey.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thank you Char M~ I admire your perserverance in church.

      amybradley77~ Thank you for your nice comments. I'm happy to know many are in my position as well.

      Elefanza~ I am also one of those that thinks too much and I realize I needed to separate the faith from my logic- two different things. I've seen the discrepencies in logic as well so both faith and logic are pretty equal in my eyes. Since I have a 3 year old I will take her someday to church periodically perhaps just to she can someday make up her mind for herself and have knowledge at least about it. I know you enjoy reading, have you read The Shack- it answered a lot of questions I had and struggles with faith personally with me. It's a great book besides. It's all very personal to each person, especially with an educated and individual mind as yours. Thanks for reading this.

    • Char M profile image

      Char M 7 years ago from Pacific Coast

      I am consistently disappointed by some of my fellow church members to be quite honest. The women can be very gossipy. I would like to find a new church but my husband loves this current church. In the past I have usually found much solace and comfort and community in church. I do know where you are coming from, but my faith holds strong always.

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      amybradley77 7 years ago

      Voted up!! Really great page here, so glad you did this. I really believe that you can find church no matter were you are in life, you do not have to actually be in a church in order to do this, make your own shrines for worship, sing your own songs of praise. Were there are two or more there is God. This is how it should be, really. A.B.

    • Elefanza profile image

      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      A November issue of Christianity Today featured an article about the trend of many millenials leaving the church. One Christian said not to worry -- they'd be back when they started having kids. Having studied a little bit of church history, I can't help but wonder how this period is any different from any other.

      I left church several months ago. Being someone who thinks a lot, I began finding it impossible to reconcile some of the parts the Bible was saying with what I saw. But everyone has their own perspective. Either way, I still admire the literary quality about the Bible (esp. the Old Testament) and still have some spiritual writings that continue to feed my soul. In any case, I suppose it's all a learning experience and so I'm hoping I can practice what I have learned -- love, getting rid of the interior junk, not worrying (always a struggle), being joyful no matter what (it would prob. help with my addiction to whine :) ). Glad you found God, though. I think I just need to stay away for a bit. Being a perfectionist, God would just be my own failed attempts to be a kind of good that is unattainable.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      MrAhSea~ Your words certainly sound familiar to me- exactly what I think of religion and church, also being forced to go to church or guilted when I was older left a bad taste in my mouth with it. I went to church with a cynical eye, but the end result is I have a terrific relationship with God aside from church.

    • profile image

      MrAhSea 7 years ago

      Brilliant izettl and a tricky subject once again.

      I believe in God but haven't found a religion i can totally get along with. To me once again the leaders involved in the Church's have there own twists on things. I cant believe in a religion that says this is the only way to think and lets Cull people of different belief's for one and once again financially there seems to be something amiss ( well in this country any rate).

      My belief is inside me and a church is not a building its a group of believer's in the same place giving thanks etc.

      Sadly i had religion force feed to me as a kid and as i got older and my head started to ask questions had them stamped on ... that to me was wrong so i dropped out of it,and my belief has morphed a lot since then.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      FitnezzJim~ I think your story has some typical experiences for people except you caught on much earlier than most of us. I see how the clergy and church members use God to promote their personal agenda for power- it's sick and sad. What's interesting is you say how the lady didn't like you arguing with her and I've found that true of believers and non-believers and I realize even non-believers have used that position for power too. Great discussion and thanks for reading.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Izettl: I really love your frankness, your honesty in this Hub. Thank you! I can totally understand your thinking about religion and church.

      I find it increasingly difficult to be able to swallow some of the policies and teachings of organized religions today.

      I am a "Christian" which means I am a follower in the teachings by Jesus Christ through the Holy Bible. This takes me outside the forced thinking of most churches.

      I will be totally honest with you. I was born and raised in the beliefs and teachings and policies of the Roman Catholic Church, but since my teen years, I have openly spoken against any Catholic Policy that is not Scriptural, cannot be substantiated by the Holy Bible.

      For 48 years now I have sung as a choir member in churches and stood in opposition where and when necessary not to tear down the church, rather to see if I cannot help bring around a change. Sooner or later someone with power within the church will take note.

      Some of my peers call me hypocritical, but I simply point out that change has to come from within.

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      nora.elizabeth 7 years ago

      I loved this :) Honestly, I can relate because when I was younger when my parents got divorced our church was very disrespectful as well. I have found a good church recently and I love it. But, I know plently of people who praise God without church. Its all about what works for the person.

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 7 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Great Hub. I gave up on Church at the age of twelve. I'd asked the Sunday School teacher a question about something I'd read in the bible, and why it seemed to disagree with what she'd said. I argued with her, and eventually she resorted to what I now recognize as a technique: when all else fails, find some way to condemn the one you argue with. However, it had a lasting effect, and I have set foot in church less than fifty times since that day, forty years ago. I never felt guilty though. I'd already read the Bible end-to-end several times by that time (yes, at the age of twelve), and understood enough about what I'd read to know that they were simply another clique, requiring conformity to fit in, and using the appearance of following God to spread their intolerance.

      You'll see more of God in his works of nature and life.

      Beware the Church, sometimes they serve kool-aid.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks Mandeeadair for the compliment. You are such a great writer so that means a lot. I can't help but write about some tough issues- it's just me and what makes us all unique as writers.

    • Mandeeadair profile image

      Mandeeadair 7 years ago from California

      This is my favorite hub so far! I love the way you wrote it and I agree with you. It is hard writing about these issues but necessary as a writer. You have a fantastic writing ability. Thanks for sharing this.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Thank you for a wonderful comment and compliment.

    • profile image 7 years ago

      Izettl you have extremely interesting articles. It says a lot about your character by the way you stand up for your beliefs. You've just got yourself another follower.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      einron~ I understand your outlook and I have not found that unity in a church. I'm not sure what you mean by the church's "weaker members". I don't think I have less faith in God, just less faith in the church. Thanks for the comment.

      arb~ very insightful comment about the people/church outsode of church shedding light on the ills of the inside of churches.

      LSpel~ Yes, God is personal. For example, all Christians may believe in the same God, but each will have a very different realtionsip with him. Thanks for your comment and nice meeting you.

      AssassinFred~ I am glad you've found a good church. I have a friend who used to struggle with this issue and now he is a pastor at a non-denominational Christian church. Too bad he now lives across the coutry from me- I'd love to try his church. I think he truly understands where a lot of us come from because he was there. SOmetimes I feel like church heads are groomed like a politician and haven't lived in someone else's shoes, maybe ever.Thanks for the comment.

      Martie~ I also forgive the ills of what I've seen in church and people often tell me if I forgive then why don't I still go? But to answer that would be like forgiving someone of something and putting myself right back in that situaion. I forgive AND learn. Yes I agree a church should feel like a community, not a competition or comaraderee, etc. It should be for everyone. Thanks for the comment.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Gus the Redneck~ thanks so much for the comment.

      Jagandelight~ I love what you said about Religion having more to do with man than God- I can truly see that now. Great point!

      Jimwithnopants~ you are part of this too. I met you on a hub I wrote about God when I was struggling- a low point and you made me search again, be positive, and motivated again. Also knowing you has helped realize there are Christians that are real people- not so self righteous.Thanks again buddy!

      SilentReed~ I have seen how the church has hurt my mom and helped her. I believe the chuch should serve as a community and help each other as well as worship with each other- I haven't found that, but that certainly doesn't mean churches like that don't exist. Thanks for your comment.

      Robwrite~ yes I know your beliefs and I respect them. You might not find that respect inside a church if your beliefs do not match- that is what I'm talking about. I know Christians who would not talk to someone who is another religion or belief- that's wrong. I know Christians who will argue about the interpretation of a Bible verse- discuss perhaps but not divide people over it. The Buddhist faith has many wonderful principles. I respect anyone trying to be the best person they can without destroying others in the process.

      ahorseback~ thanks for your great comment. The outdoors does bring a great dose of God for sure.

      lovestoread~ I just love your comment and I have not given up on finding a suitable church or people to worship with, but that is taking longer than I would like to spend witout God in my life. I hope to help people realize let God come first, then maybe a church will follow but it doesn't have to for God to be with you. I had it backwards for so many years- find a church then find God.

      tlpoague~ you truly go the message I was trying to convey. Seek God and worry about a church later, or never, if need be. I did not separate God and church- I thought it was a package deal. At least we both know better and thanks for your comment.

      alexstone~ thank you for your perspective- a pastor that understands what some believers are going through. I wish it wasn't this way but I wish more for people not to give up on God just because they've given up on church. That is why I felt compelled to write this. Thanks again.

    • LSpel profile image

      Lydia McCarter 7 years ago from The Murder Mitten

      I really loved this article, and I couldn't agree more. "God", in my opinion, is a very personal thing. It is your relationship with him that makes the whole idea of religion sacred.

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      Martie Coetser 7 years ago from South Africa

      Izetti, we should also realize that a church is not a building, but a group of people worshipping God. In every group are X-number of individuals, and the sum of the actions and non-actions of all individual defines the health and effectiveness of the church.

      I was happily boots and all involved in my church before I left it because of the same reason you and your mom left, and I can assure you that only 10% of the members of that church, and I want to say all churches, are genuine Christians in their hearts. The rest really don’t know what it is all about. I’ve also learned that many people outside the church who label themselves as Christians don’t even try to follow the example of the one they claim to follow.

      Many years after I’ve left the church a lady whom I regarded as one of my dearest sisters in that church asked me why I rejected them. I told her, healed of bitterness. “You discussed, criticized and condemned me... I’ve heard all the stories.... but not one of you came to me and asked me if I had food in my house.” She was speechless... And I’m sure you will agree with me, Izett, that that is exactly the purpose of a church – for members to love and worship God with all their hearts and love and support each other as they love and support themselves...

      Anyway, I’ve outgrown the church-goers. My comprehension of God and his ‘will’ is no longer the same as theirs. But I know they are happy, and I will never try to sell my comprehension to them. When they start with their never-ending condemnations, I merely remember Jesus’ words on the cross: “God forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

      This is an excellent hub, Izettl. Your approach was sensitive and right on spot. Take care!

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      Assassin Fred 7 years ago

      You are on point with this topic. I grew up with many similar experiences, in a very religious community that pretty much shunned non-believers and non-participants.

      I felt jaded by this religion for many years, and came to the conclusion as an adult that organized religion is capable of doing as much bad in the world as it capable of doing good.

      So I drew a line in the sand, me on one side, organized religion on the other. I found my faith in God to be very personal, and over the years my spirituality has grown. I have come to the conclusion that I prefer to worship christ in my own way. It is a societal expectation to attend church in a public setting to worship God. If you have a relationship with the man upstairs, and you live an honest and fruitful life, your reward will be to recieve God's heavenly grace. Do I need to attend church and be accepted by the neighbors and community to achieve this? Nope.

      I have gone back to church in more recent years, but only to inspire faith in my stepdaughter. I have taken my family to a non-denominational Christian church which has been a very rewarding experience for all of us.

      My preference is still Christian, non denominational. The church was good, and I would recommend that you give one of these a try. It may not be for everyone, but for me, a person like yourself, who has been jaded by religion over the years, I was pleasantly surprised and happy with attending this church.

    • arb profile image

      arb 7 years ago from oregon

      Hi Izzetti! The ills I find at church are reflective of the ills in society. That one would seek safety from that ill within the church is a natural expectation. That one,too often, finds disappointment rather than refuge is indicative of something, both sad and problematic. It has been said that "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, rather, it has been found wanting, and left untried." Perhaps, the church outside the church, will illuminate the ill within the church! Be well.

    • profile image

      alexstone 7 years ago

      As a Pastor it saddens me that you have to find God outside the church because I believe the church was established to bring believers together for encouragement and equipping. But, I have to agree with you that the church today is not what God had in mind and many people are hurt everyday by "church folk". I know there are some churches out there that are doing it right and I applaud them, but I also know that many others are falling short.

      I truly believe that Christians need the church and each other, but before that can really happen the church must become the church and not a social gathering where if you are not one of us then you don't matter.

      Thank you for you bold words and may every Christian in every church stop to realize what is happening. When Jesus said "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" he was not talking about the physical building, but a spiritual one. Unfortunately, God's own people are sometimes the one's trying to destroy it by turning people away from God.

    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 7 years ago from USA

      Izetti, Great hub! I ,too, have seen the struggles of church vs. a relationship with God. I have seen where it becomes more of a popularity contest then a place of worship. It is sad to see a pastor giving a sermon promoting himself and the direction he wants the church to go, then to stop by and visit a lost soul. I use the term lost soul loosely; it could be someone that use to go to church but has been snubbed for their beliefs or someone who truly wanted to know God, and didn't agree with the politics of the church structure.

      I lost my way for years when it came to worshiping God in a church setting, but that didn't mean I gave up on God. I use to call it "putting my faith in a box" to use when I felt I needed it. I thought that because I didn't go to church I couldn't have a relationship with God. (Oh how your hub hit home on that one.) How wrong it was for me to not allow myself to enjoy his blessings because I was blinded by church.

    • Loves To Read profile image

      Loves To Read 7 years ago

      Izetti, it is a sad reality that what you say is true about a lot of the modern Churches of today. However there are some out there who are still teaching the true message of God.

      As themanwithnopants stated above, the church building is only a place for Christians to meet and worship God. The true definition of the word Church, is the gathering together of true believers, which are called the body of Christ.

      This can take place anywhere and at anytime. It does not have to be in a building, especially one that wreaks of money and high ranking positions.

      We are meant to strive to be like Jesus. That is: all loving, caring and praying for each others problems whenever prayer is required. Not just about passing the plate around and making people feel guilty because they can't afford as much as some of the others.

      We as Christians are told to gather together often, to uplift one another in prayer and to give praise to our Heavenly Father. However one needs to find a group of people who are like minded in their love of God. Not those who only go for show.

      I congratulate you on a very good hub and may God's peace be upon you as you endeavor to keep God's word.

      Love and Hugs

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 7 years ago

      Izetti , you hit the nail right on the head , I have said for years my church is in the outdoors , and I meant it and do now. This is exactly whats got to happen with all of us ! Get back to the essence of one on one conversations with our God. Always being an observer of human natures sincerity , I have been much offended by the fake images of church leaders , so obviously phony and for what , the economics of faithful believers. Tything that 10 % gets you into heaven ! Such blasphamy.....great hub.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      As a Buddhist, my view of religion and what constitutes "God" is different than yours, but I agree that a religious organization should bring comfort, not division or derision.

    • SilentReed profile image

      SilentReed 7 years ago from Philippines

      There is a lot of hypocrisy going around in religion.The media is full of scandals and shenanigans going on inside church institutions. There is a double standard of "morality".Anyone who is part of the church core,the "US" is given more leniency for any transgression while they are quick to condemn others.Like you I realize that the church doesn't represent God. My mother is a very religious person but for the occasional weddings or funerals she does not go to church.She believes in the power of prayer and often quotes Matthew 6:6 "But when you pray,go into your room and close the door.And pray to your Father,who is unseen.And your Father who sees what you do in private,will reward you." Still, let us not condemn the church in it's entirety.Many people find solace inside it's doors.It is only the few rotten apples that tarnish it's reputation.

    • einron profile image

      einron 7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA


      Sorry that you feel about the church of God. The Church of God is made up of different parts of the body, the eyes, ears, the hands and feetm etc. They are all different, but come together to make up the church of God. it is not a perfect setting, but the different parts tolerate each other. They pray for one another.

      We go to church to worship God, not to question one another. There is no complete unity in the church, but we pray for the weaker members.

      I hope you will find a church that gives you comfort.

      God gives you peace.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Beege215e~ You have it exactly right. For some people churh enhances their beliefs and relationship with God and with myself, it sounds like you as well, it's the opposite. Thanks for being a new fan and for the comment.

      Thanks Char M~ I always enjoy your nice words.

      A.A.Z~ There are a growing amount of people quitting church and being more discouraged by religion.

      TamaraJo~ I would love to be in your position now and the way you've resolved any issues with the church experience itself. What a great comment and knowing you've made the best of what many churches have become. You have a solid point of view and I completely respect that. I need to hear about Him too and I often watch televised and inspirational Christian shows. They tend to focus on the good God has brought to people's lives- I like that. Thanks for your comment.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 7 years ago from USA

      Howdy izettl - As with so many things, "God" and religion are internal to the person and not external trappings and hypocrisy that are so often centered in church groups.

      Gus :-)))

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 7 years ago from Tucson, Az.


      This was wonderful little project. I agree with your take. The Church, in reality, is "The Body Of Christ" ..

      the true followers of Christ Jesus. People confuse this with Church Buildings. People go to these buildings for different reasons. Some go there to show off their diamond rings. Some go there to try and rid themselves of guilt. Some are what I call Sunday Christians. They cut throats, scream, cuss, and cheat, six days a week, then go to church on Sunday. They roll on the floor, take their best shot at jabering in tongues, and sing praise. This will get them a ticket to heaven they think. Then, tucked away, in and around those folks are some believers. You know who they are. They're the ones who confess their faith softly and sweetly. They live the Christian life, not talk it. They don't concern themselves with anything but harmonizing in a personal tribute to the Lord in that building reffered to as a church.

      I go to church to worship, not to find answers, or guidence. Like you mentioned, that guidance and those answers come through prayer and research.

      What a great piece sis.


    • jagandelight profile image

      jagandelight 7 years ago from Florida

      religion always brings separation, because of their different believes and practice. Religion has to do with man more than God. The truth, Jesus is about Salvation,winning souls for the kingdom through teaching, and preaching God's word and healing the sick,in and out of the church, unfortunately salvation is not being preached as much,it has taken a back seat to entertainment because churches want to draw the crowd. Jesus said Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the loss and dying world. The church is all about tradition, timing, and self gratification, they leave God out or they minimize the time they give God.

      I am glad that you found your way back to God,he has never left you and he guided you to where you came into His truth and can have peace.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 7 years ago

      It is sad to say that modern cultural Christianity has turned into a social club not much different than any other secular organization and looks not much at all like the early church described in the book of Acts.

      It is equally sad that your negative experiences with church was at such an early age.

      My journey took a different route however. My early church experience pretty much consisted of my mother telling us to get ourselves to church that included walking a 1/2 mile in all weather. I remember doing this as early as five. This could have lent to some negativity about church itself But there was something about hearing about Him that I enjoyed even though I didnt fit in and some of the other kids that went werent so nice.

      I still dont fit in and I'm ok with that. I guess I never had any expectations of how other people should act I simply wanted to hear about Him and be around others who did too in spite of all that and most of all find a spot to serve Him. Considering my memory of the joy of understanding Him while I was young I decided to help kids maybe learn to enjoy Him too. Hopefully they won't have the type of negative experience you had.

      I am glad that you were able to maintain your faith through all of that and like you there are times when my personal study and seeking can lead to greater revelations than a sermon could provide but then it helps me to be a part of a church where I can share those cool things He lets me see.

      I think most importantly we need to know that seeking Him, however we do that, is what is most vital and important. He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

      As far as current church culture is concerned it is something I continue to pray about and believe God is fully aware of the predicament and is going to purify and make it what He intended it to be. I want to be a part of that while and when He does that.

      I don't disagree with your position just coming with a different experience and perspective.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 7 years ago from Texas

      I beleive that religions have tainted the true belief and worship of God. I had similiar experiences in the church, and have not gone to one since. THanks for sharing.

    • Char M profile image

      Char M 7 years ago from Pacific Coast

      I enjoyed every word of this and even though I feel I've found the right church and religion for me, it definitely is a process and I do not think that if I skip church I'll go to hell. But I think it takes, like you said, a little hell or realizing who you are NOT, to realize who you are. I was raised in a strict religious atmosphere and spent 10 years of my adulthood being part of the New Age movement. It definitely wasn't right for me. Thank you for writing a hub that represents a lot of people.

    • Beege215e profile image

      Beege215e 7 years ago

      Deists are those of us that believe in God rather than any organized religion. I think God would prefer that we talk to him, not some priest hidden in a confessional booth in the back of the church. Some people like the rituals and rites of the church,and that's fine with me. But I would rather talk with the God who lives in my soul. good hub, good writing, and thanks. You got my vote up.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Old Poolman~ I can say from experience there is no room for God when feelings of guilt disturb you. That's exactly why I had to get away from that and find God thorugh the Bible, my own devotions, and not church. When I was a kid I always felt like a fake and was told to beon my best behavior, wear my best clothes, and basically don't be me. God knows what's in our heart, not on the outside so church is confusing to me in that aspect. Every time I do venture into one, it is a big social hub bub, that's about it.

      I love your story Poolman- not quite the path I took ,but we've definitely arrived at a very similar destination with God. Great to hear from you and thanks for your comment.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Tatjana Mihaela~ Thank you for your wonderful comment. You said it right about churches. If only they knew this attitude and imposed view of God chases away as many people as it consumes. I am in a much better place and relationship with God now.

      Madama~ Thanks so much for the great comment.

      Theresa Sampson~ I was nearly 30 when I began seeking out my own feelings of God and religion. My mom strung me along with whatever church she was into. I had to attend if she was and that changed all the time so I had no clear foundation of relgion or God. Many people are also in the position of being turned off by strict religion and churches as you say what happened to your Dad and Aunt. I think many of us are in different stages of finding faith and many devoted religious church goers are not tolerant of that. It's 'these are the rules and that's it.' Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Theresa Sampson 7 years ago

      Well said, voiceing what many people feel. My Grandmother was a strict catholic. My Dad and Aunty both walked away from religion in early adulthood because they were not prepared to adhere to the strict catholic way. Ten years after her death they have both admitted finding reliogion within themselves and occassionally go to church, but on their terms. Faith is personal to an individual and tolerance to all people is what matters. I'm nearly 32 and only just began investigating my faith.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 7 years ago

      Laura, this is a truly amazing write that hits very close to home. I have been struggling with this for years with serious guilt feelings because I refuse to go to church. As children we were forced to go to church every Sunday no matter what else was going on in our world. We walked a couple miles to go sit in this nice building, listen to the pastor talk for a couple hours, and then walked a couple miles back home. Outside that nice building there was no more talk about God or religion in our house. I found out later in life we only did this because this was a very small town and everyone knew if you did or didn't attend church. That was the one and only reason we walked this four mile round trip every Sunday regardless of the weather. When I reached the age of rebellion, I refused to make this Sunday march anymore, and was allowed to skip this ordeal.

      When I enlisted in the Army we were asked what was our religion so they could stamp it on our dog tags. I said "Hell, I don't know," so the guy said how about "Methodist". I figured it didn't matter all that much so agreed with his choice. For my years in the Army I was then officially a Methodist. In with the stack of clothing they issued was a pocket sized bible I threw in my foot locker and never cracked open for years.

      When I earned enough stripes on my sleeve that I was granted the honor of living in a two man room rather than a 40 man squad bay, something happened that changed my life. My room

      mate read his little bible every night before lights out, while I was reading my Playboy magazine. I finally asked him how many times he was going to read the same book. He of course asked me if I had ever read it, and I had to admit I had not. He patiently explained to me what was in that little book, and why he continued to read it over and over. Long story short, I dug out my little bible and read it. I had to ask him many questions because we all know this is not the easiest book to read and understand. Through this experience I did reach a relationship with God that is mine alone, and mine to keep, but I still don't feel the need to go to some fancy building to profess this belief every Sunday. To this very day when asked about my religious affiliation I tell them I am a "Methodist" thanks to that guy in that line in the Army induction center, and that is what is stamped on my dog tags.

      God and I talk often, and have reached an understanding that it is OK that I don't go to church every Sunday. And he has no problem with me being a Methodist. Thanks Laura for letting me know I am not alone with this decision.

    • Madama profile image

      Madama 7 years ago from Harrisburg PA

      Wow, thats a great Hub about religion!

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Organized religions should unite people not divide them, but...unfortunatelly it is often just way of manipulating and confusing the people...and dividing them from other groups of people who don`t think on the same way. The easiest way to impose some impossible rule over the others is to say "God said so, this rule must be obeyed".

      No wonder many churches are empty, or the other chrches are very full - many people go to the church only because they are afraid that something bad will happen if they don`t go (like eternal hell)

      I am very sure that you and God are much better on this way you decribed in your Hub.

      Happy New Year, peace and blessings!


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