Okay, before too much more happens I need to get caught up. From there, I will be updating you regularly, so you can actually follow the journey.
So far you only know my roots. That I was born into a secular approach to church, where it was treated as a social outlet rather than spiritual connection. That I have spent most of my life disbelieving in God. I’ve explained things up to age 11, when we stopped going to church and I let go of God and Jesus, having hardly touched the subjects in the first place.
It was easily one of the most difficult times of my life. I had issues that would be easy for me to deal with now, but as a pre-teen, it was devastating. Socially outcasted and never pretty enough. And I’d never been taught what it actually means to trust in God and allowing myself to fill with the Holy Spirit. Why believe in God when he allows me, an innocent child, to suffer, and be so seemingly random with the people he does bless? No purpose, no intent, no meaning. Randomness. Simple survival of the fittest, and I was low on the totem pole.
Though I had let go of God, and had never trusted him, I strangely prayed from time to time. The prayer was always for myself, and only when I’d gotten to a point of desperation and no other choices. Things like, “God, please don’t let this be horrible.” “God, please make my parents let me go to Deidre’s house.” I noticed that all my prayers were answered how I wanted them to be, despite my selfishness. This should have been faith-building, but instead I continued to curse God when things didn’t go my way. I didn’t want to have to pray for a good life. I wanted it handed to me, without having to make a relationship with God. Give me everything, but stay the fuck out. Here’s an example of something I wrote at that age:
“I decided to give God another chance. I mean, it can’t hurt, right? I saw a sign on the trip to Peoria that said, “Let me into your heart and I will give you rest,” and it was a caption of a drawing of Jesus. And then on like every bridge we went under, somebody had scrawled, “Trust Jesus” with green spray paint. I thought/prayed silently, Okay, God, what do you want? How could you POSSIBLY help me now? Where were you when I did all these bad things to myself? Where were you when I thought of suicide?… and then I realized why I couldn’t settle myself… and I also realized that I never really stopped believing in God or Jesus… I always knew they were out there… I had just lost all faith and hope when things got hard. I was convinced that they were too busy with other people to help me and I could only be angry because of that. So then I prayed, Okay God, I’m letting you become a part of my life again… just promise you’ll help me.”
Despite such a strong proclamation, I am known for getting serious about things and then dropping them. So that feeling didn’t last beyond the day I wrote it.
By the time I was 12 and at a new school and feeling like a total loser- and being treated like one- I gave up on him altogether. I decided to be an atheist. No more praying. No more thinking God can be real. This is just a ball of Earth and we have free will. Nothing to believe in but ourselves and our surroundings. Time to swim in my ocean of tears. I wrote really sad stuff back then.
Things got better as time went by. After I had accepted my social status and stopped trying to rise up in it, some of the kids who had shunned me suddenly flocked to me. My environment affected my personality and sense of self-worth, and thus my confidence grew. I lived for the opinions of others. I was not happy unless I was popular, and I finally had it. Who needs God when the world is in your hands?
High school continued the new trend of growing confidence and feeling secure about myself. At this point, I considered myself to be spiritual, but was in the thick of not necessarily believing in God, and I definitely didn’t believe in Jesus. My best friend at age 16 was a Christian, but we didn’t ever talk about God.
By the time I was 19, I still didn’t believe in Jesus, and I referred to God as “life.” Life is god, death is the devil. Symbolic. My spirituality had turned into symbols, and it greatly is now. We’re almost caught up to present day.
My spirituality continued to grow. I continued to make good and bad choices like everyone else. Prayers were creeping their way into my mind though, and I’d decided that prayers do have power. I’d accepted that they were answered when I was younger, and though I didn’t know for sure why, I knew they were worth using and that they were powerful somehow. I didn’t use them often. They still were only for moments of needing something myself. But spirituality was definitely becoming a stronger point in my life. When I prayed, I’d pray to “Life” rather than God. I got into numerology and believed in astrological power. I believed in whatever sounded good or right to me. And I still think that’s the way to go. Sometimes we are faced with difficult choices, knowing we don’t even want to make the right choice, but we still know what’s right, and we believe in it whether we choose to use it or not. Ultimately, free will is very important to me; you must do what feels right in your heart. I always strongly believed that if there is a God, the way Christians describe him, that he is forgiving of your untrue convictions, so long as you are genuinely trying to live in truth.
That’s how a lot of my pondering went. I liked to think about what God really believes, based on what Christians say. A lot of my thoughts started like, “If God is who they say he is…” and draw a conclusion. The idea of having to follow strict rules didn’t make sense to me. I believed that if God were what they say, then he wouldn’t want us to struggle to follow him. His love is supposed to make things easier. Being condemned for not praying every night before bed, or for taking the easy way out sometimes, did not sit well with me. So, if God is who they say he is, then who is he?
The numerology and astrology lost their glimmer in my life after I’d accidentally read the wrong chart a few times and realized that all of its messages can apply to everyone. I gained a ton of wonderful wisdom from those ventures, but by the time I was like 20, I didn’t care to look into any of it anymore.
For some reason, I found with just a little bit of time, maybe a year, that my praying to Life didn’t hold the same weight as when I prayed to God. I do think there are a bunch of good approaches to praying, but my best guess is that my brain is just so wired to say “God” instead of life, that my prayers to Life weren’t as strong. So I reluctantly switched back to God at some point.
My spirituality continued to grow as I hit mid-20’s. My faith at this point was understanding that I’d always believed in the ways of Jesus, whether he existed or not. I had no proof of his existence. I only knew that there was nothing he’d supposedly said that I didn’t agree with. Everything he supposedly said and did were righteous in my eyes. And the things like, “The only way to the Father is through me,” I read symbolically. Lots of symbols in my faith. For this example, I interpreted that line as something like, the only way to be enveloped in true love is offer your own love. Jesus’s example was perfect as to how we should live our lives, and we can apply it to our individual personalities and circumstances in all kinds of ways. If the story of Jesus is merely a story, I enthusiastically applaud whoever wrote it, because the world definitely needs more people who think that way. Love is life!
We’re so close to being caught up now! My entries might be shorter once we’re done with this, since you’ll get updates as they come.
Here’s the picture of where I was when I was first invited to a faith-related function. I was either 25 or 26 and living at my boyfriend’s house. I was laying on the bed alone, in the middle of the day, and I don’t remember what I was thinking about, but my life was unsettled. I was not happy living there, as hard as I’d tried to be. That guy wasn’t right for me and I felt simply unsettled. I received a Facebook message from a girl named Sarah, who had been my friend years ago but things had gotten weird with, and at some point she had added me on Facebook. Things were different for her now; she was married, had a daughter, and had given her life to Jesus. I wasn’t sure why she’d added me, but she’d been on my friends list for a while now. So I opened her message. It was long. She said she’d been following my posts lately and was really touched by them. She thought I’d enjoy attending a bible study at her friend’s house.
Being so hungry for spiritual advancement at this point in my life, and being an open-minded mid-20’s girl who no longer rejected any walk of faith, so long as it contained grains of truth, I decided, what the hell, sure. I’ll go.
The bible study was at her friend Eileen’s house. I went over with the decision to be open about what I believed in, and thought I’d even convince these people that they didn’t need to believe in the bible as God’s word or anything like that. It didn’t go over that way. They listened to what I had to say, and had good responses, and while it didn’t change how I felt about Christianity, I for the first time understood how people could believe the way they do. I saw what it did for them, and the logic behind their faith, and I stopped trying to convince them they were wrong. I learned to simply learn from each other. Eileen and I became very good friends.
Such good friends, in fact, that after months of her gentle prodding, I began to attend church with her. I only went when she went, and often I didn’t go. I did not prioritize it. But after she’d had a slew of not being able to go, it had been almost a month since I’d been there, and it hit me that I really liked the messages of this church, and wanted to go whether she was there or not. So I started going twice a week, regardless of having someone to go with. It was a great spiritual journey, and still I left Jesus out of it. I still do.
So now I can get into what I am doing to figure out whether God is real, and whether Jesus is real.