If you'd like to go back and read the entirety of Part 1, you can find it here
If anyone had asked me at the age of thirteen/fourteen what particular words came to mind when I heard the word "God" it would have been peace, comfort, joy, understanding, love, acceptance, forgiveness and patience.I can't recall the exact moment or time when that particular view began to fog up, but it was somewhere in the beginning of my junior year of high school. I wasn't exactly questioning what I believed in, but rather why I held fast to those particular beliefs.
And than came the politics; I guess one can say that I might have very well been wearing rose colored glasses if I even thought that the concept of faith didn't include politics. But when I was younger, I honestly wasn't very aware of what was going on in the world, nor was I aware of the stance(s) that most church-going people tended to take on those happenings. When I would hear my religion teacher talk in class or overhear the chatter going on in the lobby after Sunday services, I would think to myself, "What? Really? Ok....um..." The more I heard, the more my personal view of God became darkened.
All the sudden, I started wondering whether or not I was a good Christian: I wasn't (and still am not) particularly conservative, I wasn't homeschooled, only my Mom and I went to church as opposed to my entire family, and chose not to wear a purity ring. Going to youth group, out of the few times that I did go in my junior and senior years, began to feel uncomfortable: it seemed like the teachings of the Bible became less of guidelines and more of a never ending list of chores that I would get punished for if they weren't taken care of.
The hardest thing about all of it was not my own thoughts, but not having some sort of outlet to release those thoughts. There were times when I wanted to desperately talk to my youth pastor or one of the group leaders, but I did not want to deal with any kind of reprimanding or figuratively speaking, get beaten over the head with a Bible. I do not like getting advice or opinions unless I ask, and at that point I just wanted someone to talk to. There was one person who I thought of and who would probably understand more than anybody, but he wasn't really around.
I didn't act out about it, nor did I draw any kind of attention to myself. I just simply went on living life, but without the spiritual enthusiasm that I once felt. I threw myself into friends and boys, thinking that would be enough. I didn't see myself as being angry with God or being angry with any other Christians that I knew. I was just utterly confused and a little scared, all the while having no idea what to do about it.
For a very long time, it appeared that there were two kinds of Christianity: the kind that claim to love God with everything they have, yet they will speak out in hatred against differences in sexual orientation. They turn their noses up at abortion, and then turn around and go pointing fingers at pregnant, unwed women who choose to continue their pregnancies. They put others on shaky pedestals but choose to remain on solid ground.
Then, there are those that "truly live and love like Christ" as it is often referred to. They have opinions about what goes on in the world and they will talk about them, but in a way that is not self-righteous nor ignorant. When it comes to those that struggle, they look at them with compassion and understanding as opposed to writing them off as failures. They don't condone, but they don't condemn either. They simply love.
And if someone were to ask me why I believe people, especially young people, walk away from God or avoid God all together? It's because they are being simply told "no" rather than openly discussing things like sex or drinking, as well as being given alternatives. They're not being allowed to question something if it doesn't make any sense. They're having views forced upon them instead of feeling like they can decide for themselves what they do and don't believe. Above all, they're suffocating.
It has taken me about two and a half years to figure out there is a huge difference between personal choices and values. In regards to the aspects mentioned in the third paragraph, those are not necessarily values, but the choices that people make in order to live out those values. Not every single one of those things is for everybody.
At this point in my life, I do want to have a relationship with God. I have been through too much in both past and present to not believe that God doesn't exist. I still strongly believe in prayer, and have continued to write down my prayers in the journals that I keep. I want to join a church where I go to school, but am a little uneasy about it for a variety of reasons.
I do know that there is no point of avoiding church because of the not so good things that go on within Christianity; no matter where you go or what you do, you're always going to get that kind of stuff. It is just matter of being able to focus on God and God alone; the way I did when I was fourteen.
I still struggle with certain aspects. I still ask God "why is my Dad still out of work?" or "Why have I not seen my best and closest friend in eight months, even though we have tried many times over to get together?" I admit that I have been terrified to talk about this for a very long time, and am still somewhat nervous about the reactions of others around me, especially those from my church back home or those that I have met through trying out different church groups on campus.
please know that I am not out to attack anyone personally, even though at times it may appear to be that way. It is just where I am at in my spiritual journey. Where this will take me exactly, I don't know. But eventually, I will figure it out.