Saturday, 9 November 2013

Religion and how it impacted my life

I still love cathedrals .. this is the fabulous Gloucester cathedral. But cathedrals and Christianity are still linked :)
It has been over 7 years since I was involved in religion. For 15 years previous to that, I was heavily involved in Christianity and church. My exit from Christianity was the most hellish experience imaginable, and I would never have consciously chosen to go through it.

However, I am grateful that I somehow managed to come through on to the other side. I have become a completely different person since then. This post goes into a little detail of the life I was living ..

I went through a tough time in my teenage years. I needed something to get me out of the mess I was in. I had been brought up in the church, my Mum still goes to church although I think nowadays it's more for the company than anything else, and my Dad doesn't believe a lot of the stuff associated with mainstream Christianity now.

So church was the easiest thing to turn to at the time. I became a Christian in early 1991, although it was more because of the need for some form of comfort rather than any great enthusiasm. A belief in God did help me, it was something to live for. I am not quite as black and white as I used to be, but back then, I believed all the crazy stuff about going to hell if you don't accept Jesus as your saviour. There were some Christian friends I had who were really enthusiastic, including my youth group leaders at the time, who later set up a church which I became a part of.



So I had this enthusiasm of sorts, to 'preach the gospel' in the hope that people would be converted to Christianity. But, I was still a shy and insecure person inside, and not exactly well socially adjusted. There was always something that held me back from saying something about my Christianity. In fact, throughout the times at college and later at work, I hardly ever mentioned to anyone that I was a Christian.

Looking back now, I know that no-one would have wanted to be the person I was back then. I have been dogged by a fear of rejection throughout my life, which I am starting to face and deal with a bit more, but my subconscious would have been telling me things like 'people will laugh at you when you tell them about Jesus' and 'you'll make a fool out of yourself'. Now that I know a lot more about the subconscious mind, I can see a lot of how my subconscious was working throughout my time as a Christian.

I joined a church in 1994 that had been set up by my old youth leaders, and stayed there for 12 years. I played the saxophone there almost every week, unless I was away. I was the good, obedient servant, doing what I was told, and to some I was probably a shining example of a good Christian. But my confidence issues were never probably addressed by Christianity. Eventually, everything exploded and I could no longer be a Christian. That's another story for another time. But why did this happen?

I LOST MYSELF 

I was fucked as a teenager. No question. Had I not had Christianity to turn to at the time, I don't quite know where I'd be today. I was grateful that my life became a bit better. Maybe that's part of the reason why I became so entrenched in mainstream Christianity. I think I disconnected from myself more and more after I actually became a Christian, and ended up totally reliant on my religion to keep my head above water. I ended up believing the following wacky stuff:
Photo by Sassymonkeymedia
- We are born in sin and are sinners.
- We deserve hell and only God's grace can save us.
- Jesus died for our sins.
- We are not worthy.
- People will go to hell for eternity unless they believe in Jesus.

Believing these things does not do a great deal for one's self esteem. I ended up believing that I was a wretched sinner and that only Jesus could make my life anything good and that the only acceptable thing I could do was to give my life to Jesus after what he had done for me.

In the process, I completely lost track of who I really was. I believed I was a nobody and that I had to 'fulfil God's will'. I once wanted to be a Christian missionary and/or evangelist and at one stage believed that being 'in the world' ie working and stuff, was wrong and meant that people were 'not 'proper' Christians'.

I read the Bible practically every day. This was my 'spiritual food' so to speak. I mostly enjoyed reading the Bible although, like most Christians except the real nutters, I conveniently ignored the heinous writings of the old Testament such as Leviticus and Deuteronomy, with the reasoning that 'they were for another time'. The horrible book of Revelation bothered me a bit and that is New Testament, but I never really read it in great detail very often. I looked to the Bible as my guide for living. I was blindly following a guidance system which mostly led me in circles. Haha.

I was also rather judgemental - I wouldn't say that I am free of that aspect of my life now, but back then .. certain things were OF THE DEVIL. (And no, I don't believe in the devil anymore.) I went to Glastonbury once as a Christian. I even went in some of the shops. I was horrified. And if anyone had told me 10 years ago that I would be burning incense, going to meditation classes, be friends with people who might consider themselves witches .. I would have been aghast. The devil is often used as an excuse by Christians when they encounter things that scare them.

IS RELIGION GOOD OR BAD? 

It can be both. I definitely have an issue with the 'sinners', 'hell' and other rigid beliefs that mainstream Christianity holds. And it's surprising how much one can be brainwashed into believing things that, really, should not be taken at all seriously. If anyone else sent people to hell, they would be condemned as evil. If God sends people to hell, it's because he is just and holy and cannot allow 'sin'. And, in fact, people choose to go to hell, according to some Christians. The belief that we are sinners and that's all Adam and Eve's fault is taken so seriously too. I think it's a reflection of our total disconnection with the love within us and the low self-esteem that humans have, that they can believe such rubbish.
However, I wouldn't deny that there are some positive aspects about Christianity and religion in general. Having any sort of spiritual beliefs is a big help, I certainly find that with the beliefs I have now. And some people manage to love being Christians. Christianity may suit some people - but I just couldn't ignore the negative aspects of it, and eventually, like I said, it all came crashing down. One good thing about Christianity is that there are lots of good church communities. It has been hard for me to find a similar community since I left religion. If you find a church you like and people there that you like, it can make you feel like part of a family.

I might well do another post on this, as there is so much I could probably cover. I hope you enjoyed reading.

Much love


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