Several months back, my boyfriend and I got into an argument (it was so long ago, I couldn’t tell you what the disagreement was about). At some point, he said something along the lines of
“You need to go back to being at Church and dance all the time. You were happier then.”
I’m fairly certain, that remark made me more upset in the moment but it got me thinking and maybe there was more truth to that comment than I would like to admit.
Now, I haven’t gone to any Church services in almost three years. Taking a step back from religion wasn’t something that I had ever planned on doing. When I moved in with my boyfriend, my Dad did some stuff that made me feel unwelcome and unworthy of being safe within Church spaces. While I know his actions are not a reflection of the Savior in the bible, I don’t have a desire to go back to a culture that most likely wouldn’t accept all of me.
Was I happier when the church was my main outlet? Yes, because everything was easier. I had a sense of community and I never had to have a single thought or make a decision for myself. Everything was decided based on what the bible states, and what aligned within the culture of the church. I didn’t question the information that was fed to me. And Most of the people that I spent time with, all had aligning beliefs as me. There was no conflict between friends, but also zero diversity. I had more of a Purpose and identity but I was also blindly following a religion that areas that didn’t sit well with me.
On the surface, I was happy and something small, such as a worship song could make my entire day. But on a deeper level, I had anxiety. I couldn’t ask certain questions, especially the ones that questioned god. I had to constantly ‘watch’ what I did or said because I didn’t want to be judged. I had too much pride to be truly vulnerable and open with my community, because to me, my struggles felt like too much or that they were the wrong ones to be dealing with. My biggest anxieties came from fear of not living ‘good’ enough to make it to heaven or being ‘left behind. It took me years to get to the point that I just had trust that I was in good standing with god, or else I would spend hours every day praying the prayer of salvation. Even when I got to that point, I still occasionally had days where I was in constant doubt. I spent years begging god to give me peace.
Being a part of a church community made life easier, but that doesn’t mean that it was better. In my short life, I’ve spent years in church and years out of church. In my experience, the people that I’ve met outside of religion are the true MVPs. The love is not conditional in the way that it can tend to be with the people you meet in church. They aren’t necessarily concerned with your spiritual journey or how well you’ve been abstaining from certain activities that would be considered a sin. Now, I’m not trying to trash loved ones that I’ve met within the realm of religion, I’m just trying to relay those friendships within and outside of the church are different.
How has my life changed since I stopped going? Well, I don’t have set plans for the weekend but on a deeper level, I’m more open to new ideas, concepts, media, and plans. I feel like I’ve become a nicer person and I’ve grown more as a human being. I’ve been exposed to many (innocent) things that I would have run far away from years ago. Has Satan just taken over my life to the point that I’m sacrificing babies for the fun of it? Not at all. But have I learned that it is alright to let loose more often? Hell yes.
It is scary to take a step back from the believes that you’ve been fed your entire life, but it is also dangerous to stay in that same system and never question a single thing? Yes. Will I find myself back into the life of religion someday? I don’t know, but I’m not, not open to it. For now, I’m just trying to find my way and figure what’s right for me.
All the love,