When I was a child, attending church wasn’t part of my family’s weekly routine, nor was I raised with any kind of preconceived religious ideals. However, being that I experienced adolescence before our society impressed upon us all the notion that we must adhere to political correctness, I was well aware of the Christmas story and the Garden of Eden. That was the extent of my exposure.
Shortly before turning 16, I decided to tag along with some friends to a local youth group, and from there made the quick trek down a slippery slope. Before long, I was involved with youth group, church and summer camp. While I feel that my time invested in church-based activities gave me a fantastic moral foundation through some crucial years of my life, I carry much regret also. Expectations of others exceeded the reality I was capable of, and I soon found myself compromising who I was for the sake of who others wanted me to be.
It’s been, quite literally, years since I’ve set foot in a church.
Photo: Joel Bedford on Flickr
That is not to say that I’ve lost my faith. Quite the opposite, actually. I still – and always have – believed in God, and that’s just what works for me. In my mind, however, “church” and “faith” are two completely separate entities. While I have no desire to ever again be part of an establishment such as a church, I find myself desiring to reconnect with my spritiuality more as I get older.
What I think about the Bible remains to be seen (Roman scholars, anyone?), and I don’t consider prayer as a means of asking for everything I want. In reconnecting with my spirituality – which I believe to be a crucial part of whole emotional health (whatever form that may take for you) – I find myself being more realistic. I don’t petition to God with a laundry list of things I’d like Him to “fix” for me, nor do I treat Him as a genie to grant my wishes. Instead, it’s as simple as finding a bit of understanding and asking for a measure of grace and sufficiency in all things I experience.
That gives me a greater sense of peace than I’ve discovered in a very long time.