Faith is something that is a huge part of a great many people’s lives. It is something that causes a lot of toe stepping and a lot of hurt feelings. It is not something easy to understand or to live by. I want to write about my own faith for a few minutes for many reasons.
Today one of my best friends here, Ellen, got rebaptized. She asked us all to come with and be there for her; Katie, Jackie, Amanda, Beka and I. So there we were sitting in a row together, with three other Cottey girls. One of the reasons that Ellen got rebaptized is because she wants to join the church that she attends here and to do that, you have to have been baptized by full submersion, which she was not. So she was behind the curtain in the tub where they dunk you. She asked Mr. Nobles, the man who took her mom to church while she atended Cottey 39 years ago, to stand behind there with her in her mother’s place. She also asked Katie to stand with her. The rest of us sat in the pew with two cameras and were the proud family members who were there to witness Ellen’s moment.
Family members is the key word in that sentence. We walked up to her afterwards and hugged her and Mr. Nobles and he said “It was so nice of you girls to come here for Ellen today.” “Of course.” “You’re each other’s family really.” And it’s so true. Let me explain. The second key word in the sentence above is Ellen’s moment. I am not sure where I stand in my own faith journey, except for the fact that I disagree with a great deal of what I see in the church today, but I went to today and sat through emotional torture (more on that later) for Ellen. I would not have been there if it wasn’t for her. The four of us sitting there in that front row, we were there for her. And everyone in the room knew that. We were there for her because when you leave your biological family, or sometimes even before you leave them, you start to form your own family. That doesn’t make your biological one any less importnat. It just means that you’re getting older and expanding the group of people you love. Beka’s friend who is basically her older brother got engaged yesterday. We’ve been watching the results of that moment of Facebook and Beka’s been sobbing out of happiness. It’s strange to think that in a few years that will be me. My best friends will be getting married or getting engaged and then they’ll be having children and through all of that, I will be there. Because something–whether it was God or destiny, whatever you want to call it–something made us family. And family witnesses and supports and loves and being family is one of my favorite parts of life.
On the other hand sitting in that church was really quite hard for me today. The sermon was about money and giving money to the church, which I have never understood. It’s stewardship and I understand that this time of the year is the time where people make their pledges to the church, but why do sermons have to be held on money? That wasn’t what did it though. I thought we were going to make it through the service without politics coming up and I was so incredibly thankful for that because as we walked in there were signs about voting and who to vote for and what each candidates stands for plastered on the wall. But we didin’t. The state of the world was discussed and of course, that can’t be talked about without talking about politics. Obama was painted in a bad light. I was halfway out of my seat by then when the preacher said that “all over this country, same-sex marriages are being preformed by pastors” in the context that it was bad. That is is immoral and not an act of love, an act of beauty. I was whispering and muttering under my breath then and I just couldn’t take it. I can’t. How can people be so hard and cold towards the LBGT community but yet be Christians who love and support everyone? Do they not see the hypocrisy in that all? Are they blind? And then to make it worse, all the elders came up to help with communion and every single one of them was a man. Every muscle in my body was tense. It’s so incredibly sexist. What century are we in? Not a single one of those men would be here right now without their mothers so I think they owe them a little bit more respect through letting women have leadership positions in the church. I just–I can’t handle it. I know that this is a country church in the middle of nowhere and in a conservative area of the US but to think that these ignorant people are the ones who are voting and therefore, most likely voting for Romney just made me want to scream. We are all humans. We all deserve to be treated with equality. We all deserve love. And besides that, church isn’t supposed to be mixed with state, so why does it keep being thrown into the pot?
I don’t understand it and that is why I don’t like religion. I don’t like the rules. I don’t like that I’m suppose to obey God. Why can’t we work as a team? I don’t like that God is our father and not our mother or our sister or our friend. Father implies control and domination and I don’t want to follow the Bible word to word and be rude to people behind their back because they love another man or another woman. And I know not all churches are like this and I know not all religions are like this but it is so hard for me to be around the ones that are. I believe in doing good because I am a human, not because I am a Christian.
It is that simple really.
I don’t know where I stand on religious grounds. There are things that I miss about youth group and going to church on a regular basis, but there are things that I would rather never hear or see or do again. I owe a lot to my church at home: four of my best friends are in my life due to that church. The amazing women of that church are one of the reasons that I’m here. They never fail to support me, financially or emotionally, but I don’t want to go though the motions if I don’t believe it. I don’t think that that’s fair to those who really do believe it all. And while I’m figuring it out, I don’t want to do the actions because that just makes me a fraud, which I don’t want. I see God in the nature around me and in the people who I am surrounded by and not inside on a Sunday morning. There is so much more I don’t understand. I could go one and on, but the basica point is while faith has numerous positive aspects, I’m not sure they outweigh the negative for me right now.
I would rather live this life for the sake of this life, than for the sake of another.