Why I left the church. Again.

grisserI was recently had to write down my spiritual journey for an application to a “Wilderness Within Camp” out in the mountains that I wanted to attend.  In a quick paragraph I went through the story pretty quick, the jest of it being the following:

I was born in Mexico city, grew up catholic(sort of) my mom got into scientology when I was 8 yrs old—So my Catholic Dad freaked out and moved the family to the Tijuana/San Diego border.  Once in Tijuana we continued to go to mass every Sunday but I always thought it was pretty lame.  I went to school in San Diego, my best friend was Jewish and we had amazing conversations about religion, faith and humans in general but I always thought of myself as an existentialist.  At 16 yrs old I tried some mind altering substances and was sort of addicted until 24 yrs old.  My Conscious Spiritual Journey begins with 12 step meetings, meditation and recovery retreats. (I say conscious because I didn’t have the language then to realize the spirit is always alive).  Anyway, I then choose Buddhism as a source to meditate.  After 4 years it was too hard for me because I craved certainty and I was going through a pretty hard time.  I prayed and prayed that my ‘higher power’ would reveal to me who or what it was.   As if somehow knowing this would remove all hardship and suffering.

I then get invited to a bible study, reluctantly attend, I argue with the preacher about the exclusivity of Christianity but in the middle of the argument I have this crazy supernatural experience and I figure it must be Jesus.  A few weeks later I end up in a cool and modern American non-denominational church in Chula Vista.  The music was cool , the pastor had ‘recovery’ experience and just plain made sense.  The people were super nice and we found community but I always knew deep down there was still some BS happening.   Especially when they would ask me when had I been saved? What? Like 2000 years ago or something?   I then dive like crazy to study the bible and church history, meanwhile my catholic family thinks I am doomed.  They tell me that I am in the incorrect denomination and going in a cult.  I press on because it felt right, we make good friends but…. I keep getting in a bit trouble for critical thinking and asking hard questions.  I am told to believe blindly.  And I try…but.  Then we move to a different neighborhood, different church and I continue to host meetings at my house and walk many through the steps of recovery.   My husband and I decided to always host some type of meeting  at our house because it keeps us healthy.    There comes a time where I deeply yearn and know there is more to this than just showing up at church and waving hi to everyone.  I decide to go to Haiti to help out kids in an orphanage and my husband tells me that maybe I should just go right across the border to Tijuana and help there. He asked “Why all the way to Haiti?”   At this time some friends move to the neighborhood to start a church in a sort of low income neighborhood and instead of heading to Haiti we decide to join them.  It was well intended work, lots of new fun and awesome friends and I was busy again.  I somehow end up as an elder and leading groups.   I really thought this was great, until I realized it was back to square one.  Nice people, but fundamentalists.  A bit of the same as the catholic story, but worse.  There was no space for critical thinking, no space for free doubt, no space for any different opinion than the literal vs literary view of the bible.   Turns out it’s the same BS. Exclusive or Inclusive depending on your thoughts or behavior.   And the fundamentalism was drowning me. I couldn’t stand it.  How could anyone make Christ so small? So rigid? So exclusive?  I always knew God was love.  How can exclusivity be love?

I wished it would work, just believing like they did.  But it is hard to see transformation happening just because of a specific thought or belief.  It is much more complicated than that.   People need therapy.  Contemplative practices.  Freedom to think out loud and not be condemned.   And at the level of consciousness there in lies the frustration, ” Why don’t people just get it already?”  “Just believe and get well.”

It got worse for me every day.  I felt like I was betraying my friends, but I also felt like a bit of a fake by not speaking up.   The interesting thing is that this had really been happening since I was like 7 years old and went to mass to take communion one day.  I had not officially done my “first communion” sacrament but I went for it anyway because I figured I was gonna get me some of that God goodness.    I got in a bit of trouble then as well but I figured it was a cool thing that I got away with.   I got to God despite of the rules.  The government of the church was just so messed up.  The turmoil of doubt and fear had sent me on a search for more knowledge, more DEPTH.   Love led me to some beautiful people that were waaaayy   ahead of me in this journey of an evolving faith.  A contemplative practice spiritual director who helped me discover what I already knew, friends that listened, understood and allowed the space for me to develop and grow in my journey to becoming.  Back at the evangelical church I finally spoke my thoughts and was asked to resign from the board.  Best. Decision. Ever.  I grieved the relationships obviously, but I once again feel FREE and FULL of love.  Like I escaped from a prison or woke up from a bad dream.   Also, my kids are thrilled.  🙂    My teenager called BS since the beginning.  I guess some kids just KNOW and don’t have the need to pretend.

 

Today I am still at a place where I go back and forth between feeling free form religion and not knowing exactly how to move forward and precisely express to others what I am experiencing- without feeling afraid/ or judged.  I feel closer to god than ever. Peaceful and relieved.  The REALITY of love and the Oneness of all humans is carrying me like an overwhelming hope.    I sometimes struggle still, obviously, but I know that I am powerless over the desire for certainty, but I also remember each day that certainty is not necessary, it is a hindrance.   It sits well with me to accept the Mystery of God.

 

And so I quit the western modern evangelical system.  I quit religion. I leave the church once again.  The government part of it.  The part that makes the Christ small and limited.  I want to go discover more.  I want to love more.  Live more.  Sometimes I feel like my mind is a wilderness but I want to head on the fear.  I look forward to learning, to the Adventure of the wilderness with others that might have similar longings as me.  I have been called a rebel- and I love it.  Jesus was a rebel. So we rock on.

Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”   St. Paul really was onto something.  Thank God!

 

#talesofrecovery #lovenerfails #lovewins #freedom #journeyofbecoming #evolve #love