I’m Afraid to Believe

I have always been a Christian.

I cannot remember a time in my life where I doubted the existence of God and his involvement in my life.

Today its another story. This blog has been sounding a bit schitzo lately, because for the first time in my life I simply don’t know.

Some days I am convinced that God is there and that I want to serve him. And the next day I wonder why I ever believed any of it.

I grew up in a family that was too Christian for church. I was baptized as a 2 year old in an Assemblies of God Congregation. It was a believers baptism, so I guess I must have been able to lisp “I love Jesus” or something like that. We went to church, here and there. We moved alot when I was young, so the churches changed quite a bit. My parents were ex-catholic’s who had never really settled on a protestant denomination, we were bible alone type of people. And every church we went to added stuff. At least that was why Dad said we weren’t going back.

My last childhood memory of consistent church attendance was when I was 8. We attended a small non-denom, slightly pentecostal church. With few elders and a very old minister. We went there for almost 2 years.

Then we moved again. Almost simultaneous with the move, we became more rigid than ever. We wore dresses only now, all participation with homeschooling groups and co-ops ceased.

We tried out many different churches. But there was always something that didn’t add up.

The songs were too modern, or they had a praise band. They had a “Harvest Party” around Halloween time, and that was just as bad as Halloween itself. The preacher was too young, the elder’s families weren’t living godly lives, the women were “immodestly dressed”, they had a nursery or Sunday school that separated the younger children from their parents. And usually, the sermons were incorrect in some way. We spent the ride home talking about what had been wrong with the teaching.

So we “home churched”. For 9 years. My Dad read the bible aloud to the family every day, and told us what the passage meant. We prayed every time we read the bible, at every meal, and every bedtime. Christian music and devotionals (including study bibles) were not allowed, because it was almost impossible to censor them. Besides, who knew if the people writing those books or songs were really living christian lifestyles or not?

When I was almost 19, we began attending a fundamentalist, Quiverfull church that sang hymns with piano accompaniment. I don’t know why we stuck with that church, Dad still disapproved of the Elders families, and the age of the minister, and some of the teaching. But stay we did. And that is where my husband and I met, courted and married over the course of the next year.

As you all know, we went off to Seminary and eventually took a call. I discovered an interest in the Catholic Church. At that point in my journey, I was staunchly Christian, but skeptical of Catholicism. Now I find my self skeptical of Christianity itself, but still interested in the Catholic Church.

I’m not sure I can fully explain what has happened. I was excited to attend church at first, but over the next 3 years, it felt like everyone was trying to interpret God for themselves and everyone else. The rampant disapproval that Christians have of other Christians based on their own biblical findings was very discouraging for me. I thought that people that attended a church would be more united in Christ and committed to loving one another without judgment. But I was wrong, it was everywhere. And as a newly minted minister’s wife, I felt it even more.

Part of the initial appeal of the Catholic church was the hierarchy. Finally! An authority outside the local body! A church that had stayed united for 2000 years! An amazing Catechism that applied to everyone’s life! Pastor-personality cults would be eliminated, because all pastors would be required to adhere to the same teachings. And every faithful catholic could have a place to go to and get the same answers. Finally Christians could stop arguing and worrying about how to live a Christian life, and just do it! But again, I was wrong. Judgement was still there.

Now people interpreted the magisterium to support whatever their beliefs were. Catholics criticized other Catholic’s, calling each other radical’s or cafeteria catholics. People with lots of children might not be responsible parents, and people with smaller families were assumed to be using birth control. Catholic’s with strong personal preferences for certain worship services made fun of other types of worship. Catholics judge how other people school their children, they judge how often you go to confession, and who you vote for in the elections. Some Catholic bloggers leave nasty comments on non-catholic blogs (And I’m not talking abut my blog here) all in the name of defending their perception of truth.

In all of this, I’ve found myself less and less willing to call myself a Christian of any kind. I detest the God that the activist Christian portrays, what they say He demands of us. I would never desire that my kids be that kind of Christian. I would rather have my kids be nominal Christians than fundamentalists. I’ve tried telling myself that I don’t have to be that kind of Christian. I can be a Christian that actually loves people, refuses to judge, accepts everyone, shuts my mouth and evangelizes solely by the life I live.

But I am afraid.

When I read the bible or the catechism, I hear the extreme. I don’t know how to be a “normal” Christian (if that even exists). Deep down I feel that if I let myself get sucked into religion again, I will let it become the drug that it is for so many Christians. Instead of using it to beautify my life, I will use it to control and judge the lives of others.

In my fear, I have pushed further and further away from the faith. I don’t talk about God to my kids, I don’t read the bible, I don’t listen to Christian music, I have a hard time reading Christian books. I still pray, but I just can’t handle anything else religious. Anything overtly Christian seems to be lying in wait for the moment that I relax my guard so it can jump in and change me back into that person I don’t want to be.

The strange thing is, I have never been so happy. I have never felt so free.

And that scares me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13240230832660127316 Michelle

    I think what you describe here is evidence of our world's fallen state. No matter what, people will always have the tendency to make judgments on others. And that's not always bad, but as you have witnessed, it has the capacity to sour the taste of faith some people have.

    Something I try to remember is that only one perfect man ever walked this Earth and He tried to teach us all how to be like Him. As you know, I'm Catholic, but I didn't really know and understand much of my faith until the last 9 years or so…and even now, I am always learning more things all the time and trying to come to grips with my own human frailties amid the regular challenges of living in this world. But, since I have come to know more about my faith, it gives me such hope and it gives me peace to be able to know that Jesus STILL established His Church and put HUMANS in charge.

    As Catholic, I believe that the Apostle, Peter, was the first Pope…Jesus told Peter he was giving him the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. And Peter…as Jesus was suffering his Passion…Peter denied the Lord three times.

    If that doesn't show some major faith in humans…I don't know what does. And to me, that right there drives home the quote I heard (I don't know to whom credit is due) about how "the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints".

    Please be wary of the happiness…we can feel happy while doing many things…believing in God, not believing in God, Giving Birth, Feeding our children, sadly – some people describe their immoral lifestyle as ok, "as long as I'm happy". Granted…if there's no belief in God, an immoral lifestyle is really not of much concern (and please…I'm not saying you are or aren't…just pointing out that the feeling of Happy…can come and go and doesn't always mean we are or are not in the place we ought to be)

    Ok…I hope I didn't overstep my bounds here. I was touched by your post, though. I don't think I have ever been where you are…and I have a lot of sympathy for what you endured as a child…I can't imagine. My mom started us "wandering" church-wise when I was 14. But by then…I was already well-learned enough in Catholicism…that the walking away part didn't do as much damage to my ability to find it again as I think it did to my younger brother (who was 8 or 9).

    I don't think I tell you this enough…but I really love your blog and the things you write about.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Thanks Michelle, I think alot of my issues with my parents have influenced my issues with religion. I still feel drawn to the Catholic Church, and I plan on writing about why that is still the case soon. It's funny, my lifestyle hasn't really changed at all. I live what could be called a practicing Catholic's life, just without the Church at this point. I can't pinpoint the reason for my happiness, but I know I feel happy when I am not worrying about who has what right and whether or not something is sin.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09744212862956880795 aka the Mom

    I'm praying for you, Young Mom.

    It sounds to me as if you are searching for Heavenly perfection in an earthly institution,just as your dad did. It is difficult to find out that godly people are just as flawed as the rest of humanity. It can be disheartening and discouraging.

    The only guarantee we have is that the Catholic Church itself will never fall into error as it is created by God and not man. Unfortunately, the people who run it are just as human as anyone else. There are saints and scoundrels hanging out together here. Try not to be disgusted by us as we try to be who it is that God is calling us to be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16917803593444075354 berenike

    I think the thing about being a Catholic is that it is almost by definition full of people you can't stand :)

    Anxiety is something the devil encourages in us, whereas joy is the particular mark of the work of God. (that's not my opining, that's St Francis de Sales and I think St Ignatius Loyola). There's sadness for sin (perfectly healthy) but anxiety and worry about sin or possible sin are not the same thing at all. So I wouldn't worry about not being anxious. "In all things give thanks". God bless!

  • http://aerinlissar.blogspot.com Kyra

    One of the many good things about becoming Catholic was that I didn't have to make every single doctrinal decision about every issue over the last 2000 years. When I was still Protestant, there was always a vague (and sometimes powerful) fear that I might get something wrong or believe something wrong, and thus I had to be Pope and Magisterium all together all the time.

    Now I don't. There's a lot of space in the Church, lots of opinions and devotions and practices, lots of discussion, but I don't have to participate in all of it unless I want to. I can rest knowing that God's in charge and the Truth is well-guarded, no matter how I feel. I just have to receive the Sacraments and let God do the rest of the work.

    It's much less stressful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14659411240699818388 rachel


    I am in nearly the same place you describe in this post. I just had a conversation with my husband about how being with this family who is quiverfull induces panic and PTSD-type symptoms. I can only hear the extreme as well. When my husband says "I'm going to work the kids off their night feedings" I hear "I am abandoning them and I'm going to start blanket training them." :P

    My husband is IN seminary right now and we're not in a hyper-fundamentalist group but definitely a works-righteousness environment. I can't seem to handle that well and the pressure is getting to me. I can read about grace and am loving absorbing grace-filled positive, loving material but trying to read any theology that is reformed or law-based causes me to nearly puke.

    I instantly tense up when I hear phrases like "just keep trying" or "children are a blessing" or "the law brings righteousness/repentance" or "I have no greater joy…." Even Bible verses sometimes freak me out.

    Sorry, not to write a blog about this, but I hear you. Do I believe? And how much? And can I believe it without becoming the person I was before?


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02739878492337566462 guilinger2

    I am Catholic. My very human mind struggles with faith issues especially after the death of my 19 year old son. But I know that the truth is there for me, whether I can accept it daily or not. It is easier not to believe, but in my heart and in my brain, the TRUTH is still there, whether I want it or not. What I have found out is, the church does have a definite set of teachings that has not changed since the very beginning of her Church. People like to try to interpret things for themselves, in spite of truth. We are a relativist society, and we like to believe that, if we think it, it must be so. We make our own truths (usually quite different than God's truth). Anyway, I understand your struggles, we all struggle with our faith, with our lives, with our parenting, with so many things. Do be wary of believing that happy equals free. I am so glad that I have had my faith to hold onto, even though just by a thread, as I have had to struggle through some really horrendous life issues. God bless you!

  • Dawn Farias

    I understand this. Recently I needed a break from religion so to speak. My priest said I was going the wrong direction in my time of need but I felt the way you do. I still believed everything but I needed to breathe it and live it for a bit without the analysis and learning.

    It's hard to really see and love others when your mind is constantly racing with the theology behind their (and your own) every statement or action. And/or with your own history coursing through everything.

    I hope you find your way. You will, you know.

  • http://prettyinorange.com Angela

    I have never found God in a church – only in my heart. Some people need the middle man of the church – not me.

  • Anonymous

    I know how you feel because I have felt the same way since leaving fundamentalism and going into Lutheranism. I have found such freedom and happiness because I am not constantly putting everything, and I mean everything, under a microscope and disecting every thought, emotion, motive, etc. I am starting to get a hold of (to borrow a hymn title) the fact that Jesus paid it all. There is nothing left for me to do but serve my neighbor and be a mask of God to them. I fail of course, miserably, but I know longer beat myself up because I am so imperfect, unspiritual, unsanctified, blah, blah, blah. Faith is no longer subjective. Life in Christ is no longer subjective.

    But at the same time, it freaks me out because, what if it is all wrong and I left the truth and God really does expect me to trudge along in my duty with no happiness and just the "joy" that I am doing what pleases God (though what can I really do to please Him? He is pleased with me in Christ. I don't need to work for His love.) What if I am heading down the wrong path–not pinning my position before God on all that I do. Not feeling guilty for not reading my Bible every day, praying down the prayer list, feeling sceptical about all that I have come from, and feeling ecstatic about morning and evening prayers, singing the evening office on Wed. nights (I have never been so excited about Wed, night church as now.), making the sign of the cross to remember my baptism, the sacraments every Sunday, not spanking my kids for every offense, listening to popular music. So what to do. I don't what to be "it feels so right, it can't be wrong". But I do feel that we have so cluttered and muddied up the simplicity that is in Christ.

    I do believe that there is much I need to work on in my life so that I might love and serve my family and other better. So that I can be used of God in their lives to shed His love abroad. But the reason I am doing it has totally changed. I am not trying to earn anything with God. It is so freeing.

    So I want to send cyber hugs to you. And thank you for sharing your life. Every post I read, I think, "man, I wish she lived close to me. that would be some great conversation."
    Leigh Ann

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    aka the Mom- Thanks for your prayers. I understand that the church is human, and I am human myself. And I agree about looking for a perfect human insitution, I'm writing about that soon.

    berinike- Thanks! I never thought of the new found joy as a gift from God, I have always experienced God in an anxious way, so this is new for me.

    Kyra- Another one of the great reasons I am still interested in the Catholic faith.

    Rachel- I know what you mean, after growing up observing the way fundies parent and approach people from the "outside world", I assume that everyone who sounds like them feels the same way. I can read a book that quotes certain bible passages and feel furious, even though they may have understood those passages differently. It's a tough place to be.

    guilinger- Thank you for your thoughts. It's in life's hard times that I feel that I need God. I love what you said about the truth always being there, even though you may not be able to except it each and every day.

    Dawn- I feel as though I have needed a break as well, it been healthy for me to just live.

    Angela- I have had many people suggest that option to me, and I will be writing about that as well.

    Leigh Ann- It would be nice to be able to get together! I am still afraid now that God is going to get angry with me and send me a life-threatening situation to teach me a lesson and get me closer to Him again! Thank you for sharing your excitement about The new God you are discovering. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09723067016206324874 Claire

    What a journey you are on, dear friend. I think God is just totally wooing you in His oh-so-deep yet oh-so-simple way. :) So often it happens that individuals are driven away from Christ and His Church because those of us who call ourselves His friends fall short, misrepresent the treasure of Truth, or simply don't live up to our role as His adopted children.

    But we just have to remember that HIS love is perfect, and even though our fellow Christians, Catholics, and ourselves are too often unfaithful, HE always is.

    There's this great song by Marie Bellet – she's a Catholic "country" style songwriter that always hits the down-to-earth and the profound at the same time! – where she sings "It was His delight to walk among men. Heaven lend me light to see what He sees in them!"

    Sometimes I sing/pray that to myself when I feel "fed up" with the chaotic state of the world in general, or with the brokenness of the people of God. I ask Him to help me recognize the good in my imperfect fellow believers… to see them with His eyes, to look beyond the clutter and see souls made in the Image and Likeness of our amazing Creator, however blurred that Image might be. And at the same time, I pray to be continually transformed so that my life will reflect His goodness authentically, and I may live up to the true meaning of “Catholic Christian”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09723067016206324874 Claire

    P.S. Some really good comments here! :)

  • Anonymous

    Young Mom.
    First of all, I love you and am praying for you. I am a pretty messed up, half-assed, not sure what I believe Catholic, so I could use your prayers as well:)

    It sounds like you went through a really, really dysfunctional religious experience with your family, and that some real emotional trauma was tied to your religious practices. Your distancing yourself from religion might just be how you are healing, gaining yourself back again. I wouldn't worry about it or overthink it. I don't know much, and I don't love much–but I do know that God is so so good, so much more than our own shadows and fears we try to force him into. So don't worry, don't be afraid, don't be guilty. You won't "find God" because he has never lost you. You will work things out in your own time and pace, as will your children. All my love.
    PS-Have you ever read "Heart of the World" by Hans Urs Van Balthazar? It's more a meditation/reflection than theological argument, which I personally find so much more approachable and non-threataning.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06323090317962361360 MV

    YM…I love your blog. For your openness and honesty and the things that you are willing to search out. In many ways I am in a similar boat. I want to believe, but am unable at the moment. And I've never felt so free and right and content. If there is a God, I'm pretty sure I'm right where he wants me to be. It is the oposite of everything I was taught in the various churches and Christian groups I grew up in. I'm not plugging my ears to all the doubts and questions any longer, but I am not ending my search either.

    I too, mostly avoid talking about God with my girls because I don't know what to say at this point. Luckily, I don't feel too much angst about this as I am pretty sure they will have to do their own searching in their own time and make their own decisions regardless of what I teach them. That said, our 3 year old told us today that even though she "doesn't understand the flies, God does." This from a child who is entirely un-churched.

    Anyway, I wanted you to know you're not alone :o)

  • Anonymous

    yes, i am waiting for the thunder bolt. you don't know the anxiety i have with a newborn God will take him to "draw me back to Him" or because "there is a lesson i need to learn" or that i need to realize that "Christ is all i need" or that "i have made my baby my idol". how sick is that, that i have heard things like that so much, that i would actually think that God operates that way. as my new pastor would say, it's a life of fear and not faith. and it makes it all about me ( i have to have a good testimony aka i have to appear perfect) while masquerading that it's all about Him (God is good all the time–wow, what a testimony SHE has, SHE is really trusting the Lord). I am not bitter, I just rebel against a sub-culture that has a prescribed method of grieving where you have to keep a brave face, know the reason God did this and not ask Why or else you are not glorifying God or having a good testimony. I don't think I am explaining this well, so I will stop.
    Leigh Ann

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Claire- I have been feeling more at peace about all of this than I have all summer. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around God's love, but I wonder sometimes if I am catching glimpses of it. And yes! The comments have been great!

    Clare- Thank you for the reassurance and the reccomended reading. :)

    MV- I know exactly what you mean. Even if I do decide to stick it out with christianity, I don't think that I will ever be "plugging my ears" again. And I have found the same thing in my children, my 3 year old talks about God and Jesus constantly. Lately she has been talking about Mary too, and I know she isn't getting that from our reformed church! It's very strange.

    Leigh Ann- OMG! Exactly! I worry all the time that God in his anger and dissapointment in my doubts is just waiting to take my children, or send some horrible calamity to "draw me back to Him", or "teach me a lesson", or as my dad would say "beat me over the head until I get it". I felt guilty for being so in love with my husband, because that could be making him an "idol". I am still trying to figure out what God's love really is. I agree, from experience in ministry, the "put a on good face for the glory of God " type of grieving is very detrimental to healing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17040814878629055224 Me

    Young Mom,

    I really enjoyed this post, as I have enjoyed many other posts of yours. I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you as you go along on your journey toward the Truth. It sounds like you had a lot of emotional and spiritual turmoil growing up, and this is causing you stress and anxiety now as your search for Truth is causing your worldview to shift.

    It is hard to deal with the fact that Christians don't always act like it! Sadly, we all tend to be judgemental and critical at some point in time, it's part of fallen human nature. I try (and often fail) to remind myself that the beauty of the Church is that its guidance helps all of us to slowly turn away from the negativity toward a life centered on loving the God who loves us all so much. When we truly accept God's love for us and truly learn to love Him in return, that's when people stop being the overly judgemental, overly fundamental, hypocritical "Christians" that you dislike. Instead, filled with that divine Love, we can't help but love and act lovingly toward everyone around us (even if we still do so imperfectly).

    I can understand why you may be afraid of falling back into being the person you were. I think that is common whenever anyone is going through such a deep change away from pain and toward healing. When I went through the same thing, I prayed to God for the strength not to fall back into my old ways. That really helped a lot, because I didn't have the strength on my own. Maybe you could ask Him for strength and to help you not be afraid of believing in Him.

    I am glad you are feeling happy and free, but I would like to suggest that it is not a result of turning away from Christianity in general. Rather, I would suggest that it is because God is healing you from the flawed example of Christianity you had as a child and the pain that caused in your life. I can understand being happy to be free of that! I would love to encourage you to pursue the interest in Catholicism. I think that the truth and beauty of living the Catholic faith can be very healing for you, I know it is for me.

    Also, if you ever have the time and opportunity (I know you're busy with 3 little ones) may I suggest trying out Adoration at the nearest Catholic parish. It is a beautiful devotion.

    I am praying sincerely that God reveals Himself and His love to you in a way that brings you great peace, joy and confidence, and heals all your wounds and fears.


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09971244496160164955 Muttering Mother

    Yes, I had a loooong period of 'freedom' from the ages of about 14 until 29. My wilderness years – they were great 'fun' at the time; I felt happy. So I can understand why you feel released. But for me it's kind of like when we decide to stay in pyjamas all day and not stick to our daily plan. Eventually things feel off and we need that structure. But with you I think it feels like stricture at the moment, possibly because you're in the process of shaking off the shackles of your past? Trying not to offer unsolicited advice here. After all, though, it's the parable of the Lost Sheep in our lectionary. God the Father will welcome you back with open arms when you come back to the fold, and he even understands that you need this time alone.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16917803593444075354 berenike

    :) I'm so glad you liked the quotes :) The second one was from St Ignatius:

    It is characteristic of God and His angels, by the motions they cause [by this he means the changes of emotion, etc] to give genuine happiness and spiritual joy, … It is characteristic ofthe enemy to fight against this happiness and spiritual consolation, by using specious reasonings, subtleties, and persistent deceits (obviously he's not saying that God makes you feel good about doing bad stuff)

    St Francis de Sales – is he the gentlest sweetest teacher ever? Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall the soul, after sin.


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Casey- Thank you! I do feel as though I've been healing in so many ways. I think that I am still falling into the trap of thinking that if i am not "on fire" for God than that means I must not be a christian at all.

    Muttering Mother- I like the comparison to the lost sheep. I don't think there is anything in that story about God laying up on the mountain watching his sheep run away and trying to get him with a sniper rifle. He's just waiting for me, and looking for me.

    Berenike- Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall the soul, after sin. Wow. And yet anxiety is the driving force behind the faith of so many of the christians I know.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04448595911801738792 Erin

    Young Mom{{}}

    Remember the Footprints poem? He is here carrying you, all will be well{{}}

    Being Catholic, I do understand what you are talking about, sometimes you just have to put your head down, focus on Our Lord and forget all else. {}

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11889780681891693861 Sarah

    You know, Ghandi said "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians, they are so unlike your Christ." Ouch. But the point is well-deserved and well-taken. And certainly Jesus is the most aware of the failings of his followers. As Michelle said, he never would have put the Church in the hands of Peter (who comes across in 95% of Gospel stories before Christ's death as a damn fool), without also knowing the weakness and failings he was putting so much faith in.

    I also struggle with being judgmental, and with lay people who think they know better or are holier than the Pope. Judgment is the tendency of human nature, and the examples you give are painful reminders of that.

    As a Catholic, I mostly ignore lay people giving their opinion. What I mean is, I don't let myself get too swayed or caught up in what they say. I focus on what the Pope says, what the bishops say, what the Gospels say — and leave the rest alone.

    You can usually tell the Christians who actually know Christ, because there is peace in their souls, and peace in their speech and actions. They are gracious with themselves and others. No one can get it right all the time, but I've found that the Christians who know Christ — you can just tell.

    I'm praying that you'll continue on with your search! :0

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14531295054177327685 clairesd

    For a period of time, I was a part of a religious group in which there were insiders and outsiders. Insiders = right. Everyone else = wrong.

    I felt happy and free when I left that group. I think a lot of it was was because I was finally relieved of the pressure! (that's a good thing) But then, all the wrong thinking was still there, some in the front and some in the back of my mind, and anxiety and depression set in. (yuck)

    I would like to second the pp who recommended Adoration. I will also ssay prayers for peace, healing and the "quiet space" your mind and heart need right now to rediscover (or discover in a new way) the real YOU.

    -yet another Claire (there are so many on your blog these days!)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18114855102842020691 Tara Meghan

    "Fear not!" The thing they all (the ones who judge) forget is that we are talking about God, here! If God is the creator of the whole universe, then he is BIG. If he is big and powerful enough to create the whole universe…and still actually cares about tiny little us…then he is incredible MYSTERIOUS, too. A great mystery cannot be unraveled without total humility of mind, which means the willingness to seek, and to be wrong, again and again.

    I promise you that hard questions are the only way to make our faith real. God is big enough for all our questions, and if our beliefs can't stand up to questioning, they don't reflect God.

    I was where you are a few years ago, and I thank the Almighty God that he moved me to start asking questions.

    As for the legalistic types: "The kingdom of God does not mean eating or drinking this or that, it means righteousness and peace and joy brought by the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ in this way you will please God and be respected by men. So let us adopt any custom that leads to peace and our mutual improvement." – Romans 14:17-19

    We don't have to quit the religion to escape the stain of the so-called Christian. Instead, we can show them how it's done. :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09648168191469472011 beka

    What Sarah said, with one of my favorite Ghandi quotes…
    So true.
    And yes.
    I get scared sometimes, too.
    But He is here. With me. With you. Through it all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03792937108732259684 priest’s wife

    praying for you, Young mom

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08674337425926286919 Felipe and Dana~ Heirs together of the grace of life. Parents to 10 children

    I've spent part of my day reading through the religious part of your blog. While I did not grow up with the same type of childhood that you had, I was given a lot of the same impressions of Christianity that you have. I could have written most of your post word for word.

    I am now 41 years old. I have been a christian for 16.5 years. I've struggled through a lot of the same issues you face. Nights I laid in bed talking to God wondering if he was really listening or if he was sick of me and my issues. One night though I had a dream. I dreamed that I was at the crucifixion of Jesus. I was trying to hide from his eyes in the crowd because I knew it was me that had put him there. Finally in agony I could hide no more and his eyes found mine and he said to me "I love you" and I knew he did.

    Through the years as I've struggled with being worthy, loveable, accepted in the beloved that dream would come back to me. I've never really told people about the dream because most fundamentals would say that dreams are not of God.

    I attend a non denominational church. I have been able to accept that we are not all cookie cutter christians. I am a unique creation just as all of my fellow brothers and sisters are…those within the church and those without. We are all different but the same in that we love the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

    So I said all that to say, I came to a place where I put away all the church doctrine and traditions, judgments and man made convictions and began to search Gods word for myself to find what was true and what wasn't.

    I asked God to show me the lies that I had grown up believing and lived as truth and he began to show me those things. He has helped me to walk in truth.

    Blessing to you, Sister. I prayed for you today. I am glad to have found your blog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Dana- Thank you for sharing your dream with me. I feel as though God is so much bigger than I ever thought.

  • Beth

    Young mom–I am new to your blog. I understand many of your trials and thoughts. God is there present in your life.

    As a Catholic and a very well read Catholic I have to disagree with the above poster who said,
    "The only guarantee we have is that the Catholic Church itself will never fall into error as it is created by God and not man. "

    No actually we are not guaranteed that the Church will not fall into error–the church has proclaimed very few things as infallible and over the years as changed its tune on teachings.
    For example, the importance of the unitive aspects of sex were not even mentioned until Humanae Vitae. Early church Fathers are clear that sex was only for procreation. The church has been mistaken, yes it has and I am no theologian.

    You are recovering from protestant fundamentalism, I am recovering from Catholic fundamentalism. Do embrace the beauty of the Church but know that it has just as many issues as the protestant church and just as much disagreement because yes we have this central teaching body but there is huge disagreement in the translation of just about everything with the extreme conservative crowd ruling most of the internet.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Beth- Thank you for your thoughts! I have become aware over time that there is literally no religion that does not have fundamentalists. It is sad, because it is so damaging in any form. I am hoping to post on this in the near future.

  • Beth

    I'm looking forward to the post. Your insight and thoughts are refreshing:)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Liberty

    I'm going to email you because I went through EXACTLY what you are now. Fundamentalist to Catholic to, well, disbelief, all in the span of five years. I have too much to tell you to say it here. I will say this, though – don't be afraid.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00184616275088281652 Chantal

    i just discovered your blog. I love it. I found a wonderful new blog to read.
    Regarding the Catholics Church doctrines. I recently realized that there is a kind of "evolution" that happens. God highly respects, the laws of nature, the social structures of humankind and our free will.
    I don't remember where but somewhere I read that when God gave the 10 commandments it was at a time when society was very ruthless so in many ways the 10 commandments were a new way of justice and fairness for them. Instead of killing someone because one was pushed or tripped now true fairness was "an eye for an eye" Humanity wasn't ready for the true understanding of love and compassion until Jesus came. I'm under the impression that the fullness of a doctrine gets revealed little by little, depending where humankind is in its evolution of knowledge, society ect. I wonder if this is also what is meant by "the fullness of time" When humankind is finally ready to understand the fullness of a relationship with God and how to LOVE.
    Certain things we make errors because we don't fully understand how nature works. Examples are Galileo and the earth that was round or St Augustine and the theory of ensoulment happening at the quickening.

    The Church accepts that Faith and Reason go together and will bend on the new discoveries of Science.

    Please note I am no theologian and these are only my thoughts as I try to figure out the world.

    Regarding fundamentalism, it meant help simply to accept that it is a human problem and issue, not a religious one. It is everywhere.

    God care first and foremost for what is in the heart. I use to worry about the justice part of God until I thought about OUR justice. An example is that our system is also based on our intent and our past. You get a different sentence if you accidently killed a person or purposely plotted it. We also take into account your mental health. How much more GOD who is merciful and truly Just will be.

    I actually laugh a little with all the pants fiasco. I mean really how many pictures do we have of Jesus wearing pants? or the angels? Maybe all the men should also go back to wearing skirts or togas!

    In many various Marian apparitions, Mary appears in the clothes and race of THAT culture. I think of Guadalupe and some African apparitions.

    I've written enough and I look forward to your post. Sorry for my ramblings.

    Be still and know that GOd is God. He wants to love you and heal you and teach how to love HIM and how to LOVE our neighbors, family and friends.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16472056771023401629 Kelly

    I know that you wrote this quite a long time ago but I just found it today and I wanted to share something that a priest once told me. He said "If you do not question your faith you do not really have faith, what you have is blind devotion to something you do not really understand."
    I used that as a jumping off point, read, studied many different religions and am now at peace with myself and my beliefs in a way I was never able to be before.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03567549830059823566 Christine

    I know this is an old post, and I don't know if you're still interested in religion at all. But if you're still interested in churches, see if there are any Franciscans near by. I grew up (somewhat) in the Catholic church. Had it not been for the amazing friars there, I don't know if I'd still be Christian at all. When the archbishop sent a letter to be read about gay marriage (this was right before it was legalized and it was pretty clear which way the vote would go), our pastor didn't read it – he printed it in the bulletin, with a preface reminding us that any issues need to be considered prayerfully and respectfully, and the goal should be to love everyone.

  • Chelsea

    Hey, maybe you weren’t meant to be Christian. From what I just read, I can tell you have an independent mind (which does not fit in the Christian world). You can try out other religions or just be an atheist :) Good luck!

  • JR Smith

    I found this post very insightful. I’m currently in a similar place…raised evangelical Christian, converted to Catholicism, and am now contemplating atheism. I’ve still got a lot of catholic/Christian friends, so i’m going to have to tread carefully. I’ve also never been happier, and I feel so free it’s freaky.