The Real Journey to Finding My Religion

finding my religion

From my earliest memories, I remember getting dressed up on Sunday morning and attending church with my parents and grandparents. To this day, the smell of Wrigley’s Double mint Gum and the red-white peppermints take me back to the wooden pews, digging through my grandma’s purse to see what treats she had buried under her wallet and pack of tissue.

I remember the soothing sounds of the congregation singing old hymns like The Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace. I remember hearing the pastor begin his sermon with a calm voice that slowly elevated throughout the sermon. Looking back, I have to wonder if there was a certain point where he noticed members of the congregation getting droopy-eyed because suddenly he’d begin yelling, jumping and pounding his fist on the pulpit.

I never got the yelling and pounding part – all I knew was his words were commanding and usually involved the phrase “or you’ll burn in hell.”

I’m sure it wasn’t an every week occurrence, but in the mind of a child – it sure seemed like it.

I remember a certain sermon where he spoke about “the new Jerusalem coming down” and the end of times. And then there was THAT movie! The film that was shown in church to the whole congregation that depicted scenes of what the battle of Armageddon would be like. To this day, those scenes haunt me. I’ve never been able to find the film, but I’ve talked to several who remember it much like I did.

I’ve wanted to view it with an adult mind in hopes that the horrific scenes I saw as a child wouldn’t be quite so tormenting. Not that the end of times won’t be bad – I just want the haunting images to be redefined.

The days and weeks that would follow the viewing of that film obviously haunted others besides me. One night when my cousin Lee was spending the night, I remember my mom and my grandma talking about a massive, bright star in the sky. They discussed whether or not it might be the new Jerusalem that the pastor spoke about.

I was mortified.

Lee and I laid awake most of the night talking about ALL the things we would never get to experience. Things like kiss a boy, drive a car, see California, attend prom, get married, have kids… yadda yadda yadda.

You get the point!

As I have gotten older, I have found I relate much better to “teaching” kind of churches and preachers. I don’t do so well with the screaming Baptist, fire-and-brimstone type sermons. Teach me and I will follow – pretty much.

Over the many years I have been a “Christian” I have explored various churches and faiths and frankly, I do my best learning and God-following through prayer, mediation and calling upon God to provide me the lessons he would have me learn. I don’t trust churches filled with plastic people. I believe my God wants me to tithe through giving to my community and through animal rescues. I’ve really struggled with paying a tithe to a building that runs up bills all week, for 2 days worth of use – especially when there are so many people in our country in need of the very basic human needs.

Not that attending church is bad – it’s just not for me. Perhaps one day God will send the right church my way, but until then, I will follow the lessons he places in my life and be very grateful that I did get to attend a prom, which I didn’t care much for – that I learned to drive, kissed a few boys, got married (a couple of times), had kids and have done many of the things I have always wanted to do – and would have missed, had that star turned out to be the new Jerusalem.

NaNonFiWriMo – The Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge, also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), where I have accepted the challenge to start and complete a work of nonfiction in 30 days. Read my other NaNonFiWriMo posts here

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2 Responses to “The Real Journey to Finding My Religion”

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  1. Michael says:

    Great post, you have really put it out there for us to read. Same as you, I took the path you are on. In my case it was both the times Church doors were actually open – services only, and content (mainly church oriented political).

    Religion always seemed to be a two pronged system, control the population using Santa Claus rhetoric, and make money. When I became a mature adult I wanted more, and as you found, it wasn’t there. Sort of smoke and mirrors.

    I struggled along until I was in my thirties trying to make church service work. One Easter Sunday, the homily (Catholic), was not fit for family or church. Children were screaming, and Women were crying.That sealed my waffling on whether I should stay or leave. I chose to leave. The bibles teaching and formalized religion for me are two different concepts with two different goals.

    There is a book you may want to read, which I found very interesting, as it touches on your post, my thoughts, and others feelings about organized religion. “Be Careful What You Pray For…You Just Might Get It” – Larry Dossey. Until this book, I thought I was a crowd of one.

    Thanks again for the great post, Michael

    • Gayla says:

      Michael, Thank you for taking the time to comment. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to dig deep and actually document some of the memories and experiences I have that have contributed to the person I am today. At times, I feel quite broken and confused. I pray often. I am thankful for the life I have and all the blessings in my life – still, there is a void.

      I thought perhaps writing about them might help me to somehow find whatever it is that is missing. I want what other people have and often share, that they are able to get from actually belonging to a congregation, but something always gets in the way.

      I’ve been looking for good books to add to my winter reading list. I will add your recommendation and hopefully, it will offer me the same clarity it has provided you.

      I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and that 2016 is a year that will be very good to you.

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