Post Reply
Page 1 of 2  •  1 2 Next
Switch to Forum Live View my story- can you relate?
7 years ago  ::  Jan 15, 2008 - 5:39PM #1
saribeth95
Posts: 6
Hi- just wanted to share my story to see if anyone could relate/had any advice.

I am probably your stereotypical postmodern college student, but I guess that doesn't make my journey any less valuable.

I was raised in a very strong Christian home- my siblings and I all "asked Jesus into our hearts" at age 5, went to Sunday School every week, and even protested at Planned Parenthood.  I grew up with a very supportive, loving, conservative church family.

In junior high, I started to question the conservative politics that are ingrained in the evangelical church and went through a long period of questioning.  By high school, I was able to resolve this to combine conservative religious beliefs with liberal political practices.  I remained a leader at church and had a heart for not only evangelizing but also just making the world better.

My first semester of college (a fairly liberal Lutheran school) I remained strong in my faith, but after my grandpa (who was not "saved") died, I really began to question a system in which a good guy like my grandpa would spend eternity in hell simply for his beliefs.

Looking at it from a conservative viewpoint, I guess you could say my fall out of the church has continued since then as I spent a month at a very liberal mission center in urban California, started dating an agnostic, shared in conversation with friends going through similar experiences, and recently spent 5 months in Argentina, where I realized that  families be loving and functional as agnostic/atheist.

I have found some peace within the emergent church,  but everytime I go back to my old home church I feel manipulated into believing something to avoid hell.

Right now I feel more confused than ever- stuck between an opening mind to new religious experiences and ideas, and a very deep rooted fear of hell and of disappointing my parents, who want more than anything for me to have a strong relationship with Jesus, and, well, go to heaven.

I was hoping that someone would have a similar experience or some kind of advice.

Thanks
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Jan 18, 2008 - 1:47AM #2
Kumari19
Posts: 3
Saribeth95,

I completely understand what you are going through! And I would love to share my advice/opinions with you...

Like you, I have been raised in a conservative christian home, and didnt until recently begin to question my own faith. (recently as in...about 7 months ago) So to hopefully help you out, I'll share my story with you...

I never really began to question the contradictions between the highly conservative beliefs of Evangelical Christianity, under which I was raised, and my own liberal points of view, which I had learned and accepted somewhat consciously and unsconsciously throughout middle school and high school, until the last months of my senior year in high school. For some reason, I was able to live blissfully ignorant of the impending conflictions that were bound to arise between myself and my religion if I continued to follow my own path, and not the path of my religion.

My senior year in high school, my parents became heavily involved with an Independant Baptist Church, and as a consequence my brothers and I naturally had to attend also. However, unlike me, my brothers have not had any problems embracing their conservative beliefs, nor following the strict commands and teachings of the church.

I, however, being very individualistic and having been following a path of self-realization for about a year already, almost immediately began to realize the conflicts that I had with the Baptist church (with my own faith...)

I found it impossible to accept such doctrines such as the inferiority of women, intolerance of other religious/philisophical approaches to the origin of man, the universe, etc., and the overall atmosphere of strict, unquestioned obedience to the teachings and doctrines of the Baptist church.

One of my own personal beliefs is that it is foolish of us to accept the beliefs of others without first weighing them in our own minds. Meaning, to carefully examine them and consider them, by feeling how they resonate in our own hearts, and if they make sense in our  minds.

I know that the Baptists would be ever so eager to oppose my claim-- saying that it would be the consequence of possessing an unsaved, sinful mind to try to measure and weigh concepts outside of the authority of God.

(I know this, but I reject it still. Because I feel that no matter what, I am the person that I must answer to at the end of the day. And if I am discontent and uncomfortable with myself and my beliefs, then I am not living as I was designed to live.)

So given these ideas, I was able to reject my religion--though it took some time, and /careful/ reasoning out in my mind. Because I can relate perfectly to what you said about feeling sucked in or trapped by your church members imposing beliefs and ideas on you, and making you feel guilty for having your own beliefs apart from theirs. I understand how you feel about the potential of Hell, if you do intend to oppose your religion. It is something that I had to deal with also.

What helped me in overcoming those insecurities was realizing that, if I rejected certain aspects of my religion, then naturally I would have to reject my religion as a whole-- because it is a principle of Evangelical Christanity in itself that  /every. word. of the bible. is true./ is it not? don't you agree?  So therefore if a person rejects a single part of it, they naturally reject the whole.

Given this realization, I was forced to decide between what was more important to me-- and where my convictions lay-- whether it was in my own self-originated concepts of the importance of the individual mind, or in the teachings of all of my relatives and pastors, preachers, sunday school teachers, you name it, who came before me. And actually, I think that this is a very important question to ask yourself, and very sacred. How many people can you imagine have asked it? Think of how daunting it is. -- To on your individual basis, reject the teachings of thousands of years?

So...what it really all comes down to is following your own heart, and not being afraid. Evangelical Christians, Christians in general, have acceptionally crafted ways of making you feel afraid and guilty-- that's the whole basis of sin. The key is untangeling their concepts, and if you believe them to be.../their lies/.

You have to decide the truth for yourself. That really is what it all comes down to. Be brave. Be couragous enough to discover Your Own Truth.


I really hope my response helped you. I would love to talk with you more, if you want.

Sincerely,
Kumari ^__^
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Jan 19, 2008 - 1:10PM #3
saribeth95
Posts: 6
Thanks Kumari- it is so helpful to just hear about what other people have gone through and know I'm not alone.  Even though I know many people go through what we do, its often not talked about because of the implications in everyday life.

Along those lines, how did your family, family friends, etc. react to your beliefs?  I have hinted at it to my parents- my mom basically freaked out but my dad was more understanding and I think he looks at it as natural and good for me to search...BUT only if I come to the conclusion that Jesus is the messiah.

A huge cause of anxiety for me is being around the people in my life that I used to go to church with, my parents' friends, etc. because I feel like I either hide what I am going through or I tell them and a huge wall goes up between us.  For example, I just spent half a year in Argentina.  Right after I got back, I got a call from a woman who was a huge spiritual mentor for me in high scool, always prayed with me, etc. and she asked if I liekd it in Argentina and if I thogut I would be a missionary there someday.  Instances like this leave me completely tense and guilty, as do things like taking communion when I do go to my old church with my parents.
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Jan 20, 2008 - 10:47PM #4
Kumari19
Posts: 3
oh, i see. well, to be honest, i haven't told my family. i know that they wouldn't understand, and that they would be incredibly angry with me, and force me to go to church even more as a consequence. but i'm beginning to tell my friends, because most of the friends that i have are liberal, and haven't grown up in a formal church setting, so they're more understanding, even though some of them are christian. as for my friends that i've made through the church, of course they wouldnt understand, and would lay the guilt trip on me...

and i understand what you mean when you say that you feel like you're lying to people (you're parents' friends), i go through the same things. because in fact, it's those people who are making my parents more religious than they ever were, so they're a huge cause of my stress. (as you mentioned also).

yeah, i don't know, it's really hard. but like you said, it's good to know that we're not alone in this. that someone else feels the same. and can understand. :]  but i've never really had the courage to tell anyone outside of my own friends, who i feel comfortable with, about my beliefs. i'm too scared, really.

but, as for the things that make you feel tense and guilty, i don't think you should let those people get to you. just keep in mind what it is that you believe, and why you're trying to find your own answers... because that's what's really important. you know, these people have all had time to confirm their beliefs with themselves and everything, we're still young, and trying to figure everything out. there's nothing wrong with that. so try not to let them get to you, and have faith in what you're doing.

my church wants to make a missionary out of everyone, but i know it's something i could absolutely never do. i couldnt devote the rest of my life to something i don't even believe in...

Kumari
Quick Reply
Cancel
6 years ago  ::  Jan 23, 2008 - 2:05AM #5
TigersEyeDowsing
Posts: 6,833
Hey Saribeth,

I won't bore you with the details of my story, unless you just want to hear it, because it's very similar to yours.  Except I grew up in the Baptist church as opposed to Evangelical.

To make a long story short, I switched to the New Thought belief system and the tension is still quite there.  The family doesn't accept it and it gets shoved in my face regularly.

This is one of the reasons they don't know I'm an ordained metaphysical minister.  They would hit the roof.

I'm just learning there comes a point where I have to go against their wishes, and just say "I'm sorry, but we don't believe the same thing."  Then they cry and guilt me, but unfortunately that's just the way it is.  I'm very nonconfrontational by nature, so I try to avoid that at all costs and just nod and smile. 

Regardless, I wish you luck- you'll need it. :)

Joseph
___________________
http://www.LessonsInTruth.info
Churchianity, by substituting creed for Christ and dogma instead of the divine facts of being, has stripped Love of her royal robes and has left her standing an unheeded beggar in the universe of God. - Rev. W. John Murray
Quick Reply
Cancel
6 years ago  ::  Feb 03, 2008 - 1:52AM #6
One_World
Posts: 289
To the original OP: I'm a little late to this party but I want to add my abridged story. I'm in much the same place as you except my upbringing was Roman Catholic. My parents and a couple younger siblings still attend Mass regularly, but I haven't attended more than a couple of times total in almost ten years (I'm 25 now). The posters in this thread have already echoed my worries, that it's so hard to completely turn away from what you were raised on and deal with the notion of Hell later.

I haven't completely come out with it all to my family and close friends yet...maybe it's because I'm not sure exactly what I've changed into. I know I could just say, "I'm no longer Catholic", but I feel I need to have more to back it up. My rebellious side has only surfaced when it comes to rebelling for good. I would feel awful hurting my family by shunning their faith just for the sake of doing so. I suspect they will understand where I'm coming from when I say there has to be more to life than *one* religion...that there's so much good to learn and absorb from so many different spiritual paths.

I guess I just haven't found the right words and the courage to do so yet. I'm glad to see there are others in the same situation! No matter one's age, you just don't want to disappoint or hurt family.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars ~ Oscar Wilde
Quick Reply
Cancel
6 years ago  ::  Feb 03, 2008 - 1:52AM #7
One_World
Posts: 289
To the original OP: I'm a little late to this party but I want to add my abridged story. I'm in much the same place as you except my upbringing was Roman Catholic. My parents and a couple younger siblings still attend Mass regularly, but I haven't attended more than a couple of times total in almost ten years (I'm 25 now). The posters in this thread have already echoed my worries, that it's so hard to completely turn away from what you were raised on and deal with the notion of Hell later.

I haven't completely come out with it all to my family and close friends yet...maybe it's because I'm not sure exactly what I've changed into. I know I could just say, "I'm no longer Catholic", but I feel I need to have more to back it up. My rebellious side has only surfaced when it comes to rebelling for good. I would feel awful hurting my family by shunning their faith just for the sake of doing so. I suspect they will understand where I'm coming from when I say there has to be more to life than *one* religion...that there's so much good to learn and absorb from so many different spiritual paths.

I guess I just haven't found the right words and the courage to do so yet. I'm glad to see there are others in the same situation! No matter one's age, you just don't want to disappoint or hurt family.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars ~ Oscar Wilde
Quick Reply
Cancel
6 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 12:51PM #8
Zeddicus
Posts: 34
I think what you are describing is your own spiritual evolution.  Our individual spiritual path is a very personal *experience* that we take if (or rather, WHEN) we are ready.  Some of us choose to remain in a state of spiritual stagnation, succumbing to the erroneous dictates of fear.  Others choose to step beyond those walls (beliefs) that have been built around Love.

I grew up Roman Catholic, went to all Catholic schools and went to Mass weekly.  I was, however, a vocal (and somewhat angst-ridden child), who challenged the priests and nuns on what they proposed as truth.  My mother was called into school on a very regular basis because of this.  When the efforts of weekly counseling by our priest prooved futile my mother had a change of mind.  I was fortuante that she was supportive in my quest and encouraged me to explore my spirituality.  The rest of my family, however, were not as supportive.

I don't think confusion is a bad place to be.  It's ok to be confused and not quite sure where to turn or what to believe, it is a part of the process in growth of ANY kind.  Be aware that God is with you where you are NOW, in every step that you take on this journey.  Good luck!

Zedd
Quick Reply
Cancel
6 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 2:29PM #9
One_World
Posts: 289
[QUOTE=Zeddicus;266048]I don't think confusion is a bad place to be.  It's ok to be confused and not quite sure where to turn or what to believe, it is a part of the process in growth of ANY kind.  Be aware that God is with you where you are NOW, in every step that you take on this journey.  Good luck![/QUOTE]

You're much braver than I am, but you made a lot of very good points. The awareness of the divine in each step of the way for each of us is crucial, I think. Not only is the presence of a higher power comforting in the search for spiritual expression, but I also take comfort in the knowledge that literally millions of other souls are searching as well. Nice post.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars ~ Oscar Wilde
Quick Reply
Cancel
6 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 5:39PM #10
saribeth95
Posts: 6
Its been really helpful to read everyone's personal stories.  There is something so comforting to realize that I am not alone.

Something I was thinking about yesterday- I am studying social work in college, and in one of my classes we are learning how to work with clients to find solutions directed by them and not us, the worker.  Anyway, there is something called "the miracle question" that states, "if you were to wake up tomorrow and whatever problem it is that brought you here today was gone, how would you know?  What would be different?"

I tried to extend this to myself because although my spiritual journey is often exciting and beautiful, more often than not it is extremely stressful and i do think of it as a problem, especially in terms of relating to my parents and people from my life such as old Sunday school teachers, still very Christian friends, etc.

The thing i couldn't figure out is this- what would be different?  I think I would have peace because I would have found some kind of either answer or peace in the search that I do not have now.  I would have complete honesty with my family and people in my life.  The thing that I don't know is, does my anxiety come from me, or does it come from my family's response?  And what about this whole situation can I change right now, myself?
Quick Reply
Cancel
Page 1 of 2  •  1 2 Next
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook