Never thought I’d be here

Never thought I’d be here July 16, 2011

This week was Vacation Bible School at our church, And since Ms Action is old enough to attend this year, I spent every morning at church helping out the volunteers.

We’ve gone to the final program each year as the Pastor’s family, and I’ve always had mixed feelings. I wasn’t allowed to participate in those types of programs as a child, the songs were considered ungodly by my parents, and they certainly couldn’t allow someone else to teach me anything about God. So watching those programs always reminded me of my determination to be part of community for my children’s sake.

This year was different. This year I am having a hard time believing in God at all. So going to the program each morning was painful. I want to believe that there is a higher power who loves us and watches out for us. But I am just finding it less and less plausible. So much of life seems random, not controlled by an all powerful being like I always thought. Religion is feeling more and more like the addiction that got me through the darkest days in my teens, not a reality. (I say addiction because God never spoke to me or anything, but the ritual of praying, crying and reading pages of my bible every day made me hope that I would be good enough for Him and my parents.) I have too many questions about God, the bible, religion and theology to list, and so far no satisfying answers.

It was hard for me to go to VBS every morning, and hear all the little kids singing praise songs and watching them do crafts and bible study. Seeing their excitement made me want to warn them not to get their hopes up, even though I’m glad that they were able to have fun and be a part of something.

The words to the songs were frustrating.

“God loves you, God is watching over you, he has great plans for you.”
(But some of you will die before becoming adults, some of you will have abusive parents or abusive spouses someday. And if you don’t follow God the “right” way according to whichever of the myriads of churches out there is right, then he is sending you to an eternal torture chamber because you displeased him.)
“No greater gift than God’s great love, for his children every one, not a gift that we can earn
so much more than we deserve.”
(Really? No greater gift? His love is only for those who are doing what he wants, but it’s a gift that we can’t earn at the same time? And of course, it’s so much more than we deserve, because all you little 4 and 5 year old are desperately wicked and depraved and only out to cause evil and destruction.)

I just don’t really believe it all anymore. We are only supposed to talk about God as this wonderful beautiful loving being, but there are countless things in the bible that directly contradict that.

I can’t explain the origin of the universe, or the purpose of life, and I think that religion makes some attempt to do that. But I just don’t fully buy it anymore.

I am still open to believing in a God.

Some days I am still afraid that I am displeasing God. But I’m pretty sure that if he is there, and what most religions teach about him is true, then I am not going to be enough for him anyways. Some days I feel very sad that there might not be some magical after-life where we will all be together again, but on the other hand, that thought makes me that much more determined to live this life well. Determined to love my kids and be the best person I can be in this life, because it may be all I ever have.

And in some way, I feel a sense of relief. I don’t have to question every thought and action if God isn’t watching. That burden to “save” my children from hell doesn’t have to be feared anymore, I can love my children freely, whoever they grow up to be. Maybe if there is no God, then there are no evil spirits to be feared, no scary invisible beings attacking me and trying to gain power over me. There are just humans, some of which may be evil.

In some ways it’s freeing to drop all the chains of religion. And yet this morning when I saw my 4 year old singing these words in the kitchen (complete with the hand motions she was too shy to do at VBS),

“I have a maker, he formed my heart, before even time began my life was in his hands.
He knows my name, he knows my every thought.
He sees each tear that falls, and hears me when I call.”

I felt the tears come to my eyes.
Because sometimes I still want that to be true.

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