November 24, 2008

My Spiritual Journey

My Spiritual Journey

I was raised in a Christian home and attended the same church of the Christian Reformed (CRC) denomination my whole life. I also attended a Christian school which was also associated with the CRC. I was taught the difference between right and wrong, and I was taught that I should love my enemy. I was taught to hate the sinner and love the sin. I memorized the Ten Commandments and too many Bible verses to count. I was raised to think that the only option was to believe in God and to believe in Him in the way that the Christian Reformed church taught me to. I was raised not having a choice but to attend church every Sunday morning and while I was growing up to attend again at night. As I grew up I began to attend youth group. I really enjoyed the whole idea of church while growing up. Sunday school and youth group were fun and I enjoyed them. I got to eat candy in church and draw on the children’s bulletins and sing the songs I had grown to love. I never had any reason to doubt, I didn’t even know it was possible to.

Growing up I had a neighborhood friend (denoted by K if you have read my self-harm testimony) who was not raised religiously. She came to church with us a few times and attended GEMS (Girls Everywhere Meeting their Savior) with me on a fairly regular basis. When we reached 7th grade, she started to change. She began to hang out with older kids especially guys. She began doing drugs and having sex with the guys she was hanging out with. She would tell me things which I didn’t understand since I had been raised in such a sheltered environment. The only way I knew how to deal with this was through grasping tightly on to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and asking Him to get me through this. I “grew closer” to God during this time and in 8th grade I made Profession of Faith in front of my church.

During 8th grade my friend moved away and I drew closer to the friends I had who attended the same school I did. I especially drew closer to my friends who I was in a Small Group with.

I began my freshman year looking for a fresh start. I kept my old friends but I also gained some new ones. The person I was closest to out of my new friends was P. She was an amazing friend and blessed me in so many ways. During the end of my freshman year she was diagnosed with a brain tumor which was found to be cancerous. I really struggled with her illness but I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it. I didn’t understand what was going on and I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Throughout her 17 month battle against the cancer that was trying to defeat her I was very confused. I didn’t understand how the loving God that I believed in could let such an amazing person be so sick and in so much pain. I began to lose hope that God was who I had thought He was. During this time I began to turn away from God and towards another support that I found. I started to self-harm. I felt so out of control because of the things which were going on in my life and the self-harm was my way of gaining control back in my life.

During November of my junior year my friend, P, passed away. Once she passed away it seemed as though I had no hope anymore, and God seemed like a distant thing in my past. He seemed so untrustworthy and I didn’t want to have anything to do with anyone like that. I drifted away from Him. I was very angry at him for letting my friend die despite all the heartfelt prayers for her healing, both mine and everyone else who loved her.

I am not exactly sure when, but at some point during the next few years there were several issues within my church. A senior pastor admitted to committing adultery (or something like that) and my youth pastor, the only pastor I ever even liked listening to, was ‘found guilty’ of something with money which he didn’t actually do. I discovered how hypocritical the church was and this whole thing just fueled the anger. I quit attending church. I would ride in the car with my family to the church and then ditch them and help take care of the kids in the nursery. (Caring for kids is my one true joy! I love kids so much!)

It has been 2 years since P passed away. I am not so angry at God as I once was. I have tried to reconcile with Him, but that faith just doesn’t seem to be there. I don’t really know how to believe anymore. I am trying though. Since I have arrived at college, a college which is associated with the CRC (don’t ask me why I chose to come here I really have no clue) I have attended more church services than I had in the last year back at home. I think I purposely decided to attend a Christian college because I wanted to acknowledge that maybe there is actually a God who does actually care. Right now I am just giving God a shot. I don’t know how this whole thing will turn out but we will see I guess.

Emmy R.

5 comments:

Not the usual said...

An interesting read Emmy! Have you heard of ex-christian.net. It's interesting talking to them on the forums, and they were an invaluable help to me during the time I was leaving church. I mean, I'm not trying to encourage you to leave church.. Ah, forget it.

Not the usual said...

Yah, I rejected your comment to me so you can post it on your blog without duplicating yourself, if that makes any sense :/ xD

As for church, you know your situation. If church is working well for you, you stay with it girl. Coming out as an atheist whilst at a Christian uni would possibly be the same as nuking yourself, I guess.

Just go with it, things will pan out. I didn't leave church properly till I was 22. A then-doubting friend the same age as me is now completely happy with his faith and leading a youth group and really going on with God, the last I heard. So just see what's right for you.

You're still super young, just focus on enjoying your time at university and all the social side to it. I guess it's good to do some study sometimes as well, necessary evil that it is. Sheesh, I sound like Dad, or something.

Just ignore me and my ex-christian.net xD

Have a good week.

Not the usual said...

No, it is I who is the thoughtless one! The instant I'd deleted it, I suddenly thought, "Ah shit! What if she needed wanted the comment published so she could use it for her post!"

My fears were confirmed, and I'm so super sorry =( I just wasn't thinking.

Why I left church... I'll try and do a shortish blog on this. My parents would like to read it if they do end up having to find out about this blog. They are both still committed Christians. I really am a hardened atheist now, I'll never go back to church, but I haven't made a look-back view of my Christian upbringing since I reached this point.

Not the usual said...

No, no, no! A god, how did that happen? I mean, I didn't delete it, I made one last, tiny edit to it after I'd posted, but then logged in just now, read your comment, then found it only saved as draft. It'was still there, only, it wasn't. I just reposted it. I feel like typing really naughty words to express my frustration.

Needless to say, please don't re-type your comment... Oh, god, I am so sorry, you taking all that time to read through and then type out a long comment for me, I feel terrible, terrible =(
Stupid, stupid, stupid me.

Hmm, it's a shame I'm in the position I'm in, because I can't show you a video of that performance involving cutting which I mentioned at my Mum's church. They posted on their website, you see.

But me letting you know what church my Mum and Dad go to opens doors which can't be closed. What if you feel the need e-mail their church elders some time next year? They'll know who you're talking about. And we couldn't have that, it might spoil my plans!! ;D

Ah well, anonymity is the best policy when it comes to internet things, it's safest for all concerned.

Sorry again, I am so annoyed and feel so bad. I like reading your comments and your blog. Ach, there's nothing I can do to undo it, but still AAARGH. Annoying.

Not the usual said...

Aha! Yes! The Everything Skit, that's what they did, that's what it was called. I didn't know it was so well-known in Christian circles. Shows how much I know about these things xD I wonder who came up with the original skit...

The Everything Skit acted out by the students at my Mum and Dad's church (my old church) was brilliantly done, I just couldn't stop crying. They were actual drama students, so really made it good.

I know what you mean about feeling that sort of love. Seems too good to be true. Powerful, strong love. I can sort of see why some girls like knights in shining armour riding to the rescue in films and all that sort of silly stuff xD

What I didn't write in my blog was that I felt my Christian upbringing was the cruelest joke ever played on me, and that rejecting Jesus was the hardest thing I've ever done. This 80 years is all I'm getting, and boy does life really start to zoom when you hit your late twenties.