***Disclaimer – if you are overly sensitive to religious content, you probably want to skip this particular post. I am not out to offend anyone, however, I have the right to my opinion and the ability to express that. (And no, nobody is cuing the devil.)***
Being born, baptized and raised Catholic, I have seen some pretty cool stuff in church. I’ve seen a packed house when, as a seven year old (or maybe I was nine?) I had my first Holy Communion. My first Confession was a pretty big deal, too. My sister getting nose bleeds in the middle of Mass? Cake taker, right there. (Sorry, Twinnii, and don’t try to tell people one of us was switched at birth…DNA proves otherwise…admit it, we’re related.) Seriously. Back when we attended St. Anne’s in Palo Alto, they had this really cool folk-Mass, and all the kids could sit around the altar so we could see the musicians and the Father, and be right up there at Communion time; and there would be my little sister with blood running down her face, looking up, and man, could our mom move FAST! J Good times!
In high school, I started attending a Non-Denominational Christian church, which I loved, not only because I got a boyfriend (or 3) from going, but because they had a less strict agenda than the Catholic Church did. I sang in the youth choir, got saved and baptized in the Russian River as a teen at church camp, got caught necking with the guitar player behind the cabin (before I got baptized, mind you), and generally had a lot of friends there, and felt welcome.
Grew up, got married, fast forward to ten or so years ago. So I split with my boys’ dad. He moves out after about 13 (yes, always SUCH a lucky number) and I am just emotionally beaten up from the whole thing…so I’m driving home from work one evening and see this bumper sticker that says, “Let GO, Let GOD.” So, okay. I think I can do that. Not sure why God would want to deal with my petty mess, but ok. I’ll give it a shot and see what happens.
Now, all of my kids all were going to a Baptist church, here, locally. I wasn’t, but decided to start going with them. I felt like a strange person in a strange land at first, and really felt out of place. I thought that it was simply because I was the new kid in the pews. I tried choir (fail), Sunday school (epic fail – most everyone was married, and here’s the hot to trot divorcee with the live-in male roommate/cruising toward boyfriend who refused to go with me), and the services, themselves.
I think I made it all of a month, maybe even two, I don’t remember, as I’ve slept since then. I felt judged. The tithing thing? That kicked my butt. I know that the Lord is supposed to take care of me, but as a single mom of three growing boys, owner of a huge mortgage/car payment, and a cut in pay when I had to change jobs, ten percent was not happening for me. I mean, I was still catching up on bills I couldn’t pay when I’d gotten laid of from my web design job. I felt looked at sideways, especially since I didn’t carry cash and would write a small check to put in the offering plate each week; I KNOW they knew that wasn’t ten percent. I began to get an upset stomach at the prospect of attending another service. I just really couldn’t do it. Life was already stressful enough (the thing with the boyfriend/roommate was trying too go way too fast; I wasn’t ready for that, the new job was making me want to tear my hair out, and I was still trying to make ends meet), without being stressed out over something that was supposed to give me some semblance of peace. I mean, was I wrong? Every church family I had ever belonged to in my life was a welcoming, comforting place. Yes, I know, I probably just wasn’t in the right church at the time. Needless to say, I became VERY gun shy about church shopping. Yes, it was easier to say, “Screw it, I’m sleeping in this Sunday,” than to get up and go back “there” or try new churches every Sunday until I found one that fit.
That, ladies and gents, is when I became a heathen. (And I really don’t mean that in the literal sense, but I do joke about that a LOT, especially living in an area where there is a place of some sort of worship on just about every corner.)
I had a friend who was Wiccan, and he loaned me some books. They were good reading. (And very element and earth loving, which, if you are in any way, shape, or form living green, you can relate to, as well, you heathen.)
I was interested in Buddhism, so I looked into that. Interesting. (I try not to kill spiders, as much as they freak me out, because that spider really didn’t DO anything to me but make me want to pee myself when it snuck up on me. I’m working on that. I think about Sandra’s story about the ants in the dishwasher, and will share that with you another time.)
I even now have a friend that is very active in Voo-Doo (and not that poke a pin in the doll crap Hollywood is so fond of portraying). She had a really cool bumper sticker on her car that said, “Born again Voo-Doo-ist.” Her son drives that car now, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that people do NOT cut him off on the Beltline. 😉
I also have VERY devout Christian friends who love me for who I am, because they know me, religious warts and all. 🙂 I LOVE them, too!
What I have done is become kind of a hybrid. A religious mutt, if you will. (Not to be confused with, “religious nut,” thank you very much.)
I have taken the good out of the alternative religions that I have read about (and harm none, for example), and applied those concepts to my life. They help me (in my mind) walk a more straight spiritual path.
Have I let go of my core belief system? No, I have not. Have I denounced my Christian beliefs? No, I have not. Do I label myself? Catholic? Baptist? Wiccan? No, I do not. I do not judge others, I do my absolute best to do the right thing by any and everyone that crosses my path. I believe in the Golden Rule, as well as the Ten Commandments, but those “good” things are not JUST exclusive to Christianity. Oh…I have been caught asking, “What would Jesus do,” as well. RECENTLY, even.
So when I hear through the grapevine that
- I’m going to hell (who are you to say that? To quote one of my favorite friends, Roger, “Did you get crucified and resurrected so you could come back and tell me that? No? Then shut up!”);
- that I’m not a Christian, therefore care should be taken when interacting with me; or
- that I’m going to drag you down with me because of my lack of a label? C’mon, people. Are you REALLY going to JUDGE me? Are you REALLY that ignorant? Your loss. I have no time for such nonsense. Do you hate Jewish people, too?
I told my friend the other day about a conversation that had revolved around that very subject. I then told her to relax. After all, I hadn’t turned anyone into a newt. Yet.
On that note, I need to go wash out my cauldron. It’s spaghetti night. 🙂