Friday, July 11, 2014

I'm NOT churchy; I AM spiritual

This is just going to be my picture for when things are getting spiritual up in here.

I tend to outright avoid discussions of spirituality with people, because I live in the South and the only way you're allowed to be spiritual is that one specific way that involves a lot of fire and brimstone and blaming all your problems on everyone else. And there's too many contradictions in that for me.

I also tend to avoid discussions of which church I go to, because I don't go to one, and I'm super-tired--like actually, physically exhausted--with that horrified face people of the above persuasion get when they find out that you don't.

I have faith. I'm pretty consistent with it, and working on expressing it more consistently as I go. But it's not the kind that tells me that everyone not like me is going to hell, or the kind that is built on separating out the ones the leadership doesn't agree with--in fact, I'd generally group myself with those who are being separated out, what with my tendency to rather learn the actual proven history of events, and ask questions, and think my own thoughts.

We were raised Christian, but it was a Christianity that really only made an impact on me because we had Easter and Christmas. I was too busy learning about mythology, the local history and traditions of wherever we were living, and running wild in the woods. Church was somewhere we went when we were new to a place, not something we did every week without fail. People around us, generally, didn't much care, and it didn't occur to me that others might.

And when we moved back to the States and suddenly it mattered, and things were hard and we were supposed to turn to the church, and we started going every week? By then I was old enough to know that the particular churches we went to were terrible, and it made me physically ill. I couldn't handle being told that everything I knew was me was wrong and devil-spawned, that all my culturally-diverse friends, no matter how good they seemed, were all evil and going to hell, and that I'd go to hell if I didn't change everything about the way I thought about the world.

So I stopped going. And had several long, upset years dealing with all that.

And I came out the other side knowing what I believe, and knowing also that it's not anyone else's business unless I say it is.

Maybe it's just that we were in the South, where things are supposed to be simple and really they're tending more and more toward oppressive and narrowminded. Maybe it's just that we came back right at the time when every church seemed to want to be a big, rich TV church--and all the news about what those actual big, rich TV churches were about was everywhere. Maybe other churches are less horrible. But all I know is that I went to seven or eight different churches over a decade and all of them were flat-out wrong, or built on the idea of hating everything, or hurtful, or close-minded, and so I stopped trying.

I found my own ways to have faith, quieter, more personal, more accepting ways. Ways that no one told me to do, and no one told me I shouldn't do. And I don't regret it, because it's what matters to me, it's what gets me through the hard parts of life.

So that's how I am. I'm not churchy--and I'm pretty sure most of the people who are churchy, and not just holding their faith in a church, are missing some aspect of critical thought or interpersonal compassion. But I am spiritual. And that's how it is.

And now I want to hear about your story. How did you get to what you believe? Be nice, and we'll all talk about it.
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