Endless Bliss | Happy Lifestyle Blog: Motivated Mondays: Let's Talk Religion

Motivated Mondays: Let's Talk Religion

One thing I never talk about on the blog is religion, but I figure I can just bring it up once and be done with it. Okay? Okay.

I believe in God and consider myself to be a Christian, but I'm still trying to figure out what that means. When I was younger, my family never made me go to church. All I remember about church from when I was little is going with my grandma and going to Ryan's afterward. My family wasn't super religious, so they never pushed me to go to Sunday school or to service regularly. I just went with my grandma when I felt like it. When I moved in with my mom and step-dad, I found that they weren't religious at all. That being said, I never really felt like I had to or needed to go to church or pray or anything like that because if my family didn't, then why should I?

I've gone to several churches throughout my life. I've been to Methodist churches, Baptist churches, Catholic, Church of Christ, Episcopal, African, Pentecostal, Non-Denominational. I'm just a curious person and wanted to see what they were all about. Friends invited me, but I never had a church that I went to regularly.

So why all the skepticism? Why didn't I just jump into the open arms of one of those churches? Honestly, some of the churches just made me feel uncomfortable. Not all of them, but most of the ones I went to. Some of the Christians I know are also the ones I see committing the worst kinds of sins, and I think to myself, "Is that what being a Christian is about? Doing the most horrible things Monday through Saturday, but all of that being erased because you went to church on Sunday?" The world is full of hypocrites, and I've seen some of the worst hypocrisy from people hiding behind their religion. I'm obviously not saying I'm perfect and that I'm not a hypocrite, because I am, but I can say that I haven't committed any sins in the name of God, and I don't use Him as any kind of justification for my actions.

I've also had some really awkward situations with a few churches. I started going to this one church because this guy came up to my friends and me at Sonic after my Halloween party. Sounds sketchy, but I promise it wasn't. This was in high school. I decided to go, and I brought a few friends along. I went there for awhile actually, and it was cool at first, but as soon as the youth leader got me pretty involved, he decided that he could make me do things. He wanted to force me to do this dance in front of a bunch of people. He wanted to force me to give 10% of my paycheck to the church - mind you, I worked at Moe's at the time making minimum wage, and I gave offerings, but he said it wasn't enough. He told me that I was a sinner just because I listened to music that didn't glorify God. He was pushing his religion on me in the wrong way, and I just started to feel uncomfortable. When I stopped going to the church, he blew up my phone, leaving inappropriate voicemails about my sins. That kind of killed it for me.

Not all of my experiences with church have been bad though. I went to this church with one of my close friends in high school, and I really enjoyed it. I even went to Youth Convention with them and had a blast. When I graduated high school, they gave me a Bible with my name embossed in it. They were nice there, and I enjoyed going, but then I left for college. When I was in college, there was an awesome church that I enjoyed going to, but I just never went regularly because I slept in on Sundays.

I guess my problem is that I've had people be turned off to me because of my religious ignorance. And that's what it is - ignorance. I know that. I know it's my fault for not trying to learn everything I can about God and not reading the Bible on the daily. That's why I don't know anything about it. I'm just skeptical to believe something written forever ago that's been translated a million times. I mean, things get lost in translation. That aside, like I said, I have encountered people who dislike me and judge me because I wasn't raised to go to church every Sunday and blindly follow the Bible. It's people like that that make me not want to learn about Christianity. People who judge me because I wasn't raised the same way. 

My step-dad has always told me that if you're a good person and you do good things, you'll be alright, and I've spent my life since high school just trying to do that, regardless of their religious (or not religious) affiliation. I know that everyone sins, but I'd say my sins are pretty minuscule comparatively speaking. I do believe in God, but I'm still trying to figure out what this whole Christianity thing is about.

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  1. You've stolen the words right out of my lips! I've had many similar experiences. I went to a Lutheran school until I was 9 so I went to church regularly and have a knowledge of the Bible. My mother and father were raised Catholic and my father is now an athiest. My mother doesn't regularly go to church, but we do believe in God and are Christians.

    For me, I struggle with deciding how much of life God influences. I think it is silly to pray for little things to happen to you, but I believe that prayer offers you the answers you seek because it opens your minds to finding those answers. Some days I say I'm a Deist - believing that God started it all and then took a step back and let's us do what we do. This is my way of understanding evil people and abuse in the world.

    When I was 12 we moved to a very born-again religious area of Orange County and that's when I began to struggle with religion, watching people hide behind it. I did find one church that I enjoyed going to on occasion with my best friends, but because churches are run by people, the church changed when new people became in charge.

    Iman is also Christian but non practicing. While I have a knowledge of the stories in the Bible, and an understanding of "doing good" in the world, I would love to find a church or spiritual experience that I can go to or attend on a weekly basis.

    Seriously, thank you so much for sharing this post! I know it took guts (religion's a tough one to talk about, especially when you're ignorant). I hope you find your path and people stop judging you for your ignorance and instead, enlighten and educate you and let you make your own inferences and decisions!

  2. This is ME for the most part! You lived my life growing up ;-) I agree a lot w your step dad...

  3. I don't go to church much but I do believe. My husband got in to a really bad bus accident and god had are side. If the bus would have went a km more the bus would have ended in water.

  4. For me, I try to remember that God and Christ are PERFECT and that people are NOT perfect - but that is why we need religion, to become perfect through the atonement.

    When that still doesn't help me when I want to judge others for being hypocritical, I remember that I don't go to the gym expecting to only see extremely physically fit people and not see any out of shape people - those are who I EXPECT to see because they are working on themselves! The same goes for church - I have to remember that those who are working on themselves are the ones that should feel welcomed and supported there.

    I hope this helps - but no matter what, despite attending any type of organized church, I believe God loves you and hears you lady! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in sharing!

  5. hmm. this is a rough topic, so good for you for opening up and posting about it! as a christian, i wanted to say a few things...hopefully this helps you a little, and if not feel free to ignore it :) you said: "Is that what being a Christian is about? Doing the most horrible things Monday through Saturday, but all of that being erased because you went to church on Sunday?" being a christian is obviously not about doing horrible things...but it is amazing to know that we can be forgiven and that we should strive to forgive others. it's not an excuse by any means, but it is a blessing. secondly, reading the bible can be really confusing and i know there's a lot of argument over how accurate it is, etc etc, so i encourage you to do some research. reading patheos blogs and many other catholic bloggers has helped me to understand the bible, the tradition and the reasons behind everything christians do so much more. you could even try following the pope on twitter! the bible is not meant to be read literally; in fact, that was a movement in the 18th/19th centuries. as far as we know, patristic christians did not accept every word as fact. and your last quote reminds me of that oft-cited wisdom from st francis: "preach the gospel everywhere; when necessary, use words," and a similar one from st. vincent de paul: "let us love god, my brothers, but let us love him with the sweat of our brow and the strength of our arms." if you ever want to talk any more about this stuff (i'm a theology nerd) feel free to reach out to me! :)

  6. It really is a rough topic, but thank you so much for reading my post and taking the time to comment. Like I said, my feelings have a lot to do with being uneducated about it all. I do like how you said that the Bible wasn't meant to be read literally. I don't know if I've ever heard someone say that before, but it makes a lot of sense. People interpret the Bible differently, just as they do poems and other works of literature and such. Your words were very encouraging, and I loved everything you said. Thanks again!

  7. aw no problem! one of the cool things about the bible is that it is many different types of literature: there are the books of law, there are prophecies, there is poetry and songs of praise, revelation is a really trippy dream John had, there are letters between the early christians...and so it's important to remember as we interpret it the different types of literature that we're reading. which is really hard to do on our own, so that's one reason i suggested doing more research! it doesn't have to be a research project or even ongoing, but i added a few christian blogs to my reader a few years ago and i have learned so, so much about my own traditions from that. :) good luck!

  8. I'm a huge fan of metaphors, and I love the one you just used. That really puts it into perspective for me - comparing it to people going to the gym. I've gotten to the point where when I do go to church, I would rather people not notice me because I feel so much pressure. I feel like people just know that I'm uneducated about God and the Bible, but that's just me being paranoid. That really did help. Thanks so much for putting it into perspective like that.

  9. That's amazing that he pulled through that.

  10. Good to have someone who knows what I mean!

  11. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I'm glad that you have an understanding of where I'm coming from. It seems like you have had a lot of up and downs with religion yourself. It's a hard thing to admit that I'm confused when I pretty much live in the Bible belt and everyone around me is pretty religious. There's just so much to learn about it, and I haven't yet found the motivation to try to figure out exactly what I believe in. Everyone around me believes in different things and practices in different ways, and I agree and disagree with certain things, so it's like I'm creating my own Tiffany religion haha.

  12. Thank you! That's a very awesome way to look at it. What are some of the Christian blogs that you've been reading? I would love to check them out!

  13. The only reason I know that metaphor is because I've had the same issue and someone shared it with me. It's SO hard to not judge people that may be acting hypocritical and I think we've all been there. I'm so glad it helped you though!

  14. I'd love to know which ones you read as well! xo

  15. oh gosh. here are a few (mostly catholic, although i'm not):

    conversion diary (atheist turned catholic; she is about to come out with a book)
    mama needs coffee (not exclusively about religion but she has a lot of posts on it)
    little catholic bubble (converted to catholicism)
    new liturgical movement (very traditional, very heavy stuff)
    patheos has a ton of blogs from different traditions
    stuff christians like (hilarious)
    whispers in the loggia (exclusively about the vatican)

    other figures/media:
    pope francis on twitter (@pontifex)
    father james martin
    father robert barron
    catholic memes, united methodist memes, etc on facebook
    timothy cardinal dolan (our cardinal here in new york)
    the "catholic" tag on tumblr

    a lot of great stuff can be found just by googling, and especially the new writings by pope francis (the joy of the gospel and the light of faith) are really inspiring.

    again, feel free to hit me up if you want to talk!

  16. OH and anything by francis schaeffer. he is FASCINATING. his father (of the same name) was a billy graham/reagan era evangelist and led the usa anti-abortion movement. he was raised calvinist in a somewhat odd church and then as an adult had a period of intense doubt and is now an orthodox christian. he also has a patheos blog, and i love his novels also.

  17. I am going to do my best to help you out without sounding too "preachy." If you have any specific questions, I would love to answer them for you! I lead a Bible study in college and loved helping girls who are struggling with their faith. The thing that I really struggled with is: doing good things and being a good enough person isn't what saves you. Galatians 2:21“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” We can't think that just because we're a good person we can go to Heaven. We have to accept Jesus as our savior and Lord of our lives. This scene from the movie Courageous really helps to explain it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_ympKXmC6c


  18. Thanks so much for all of these! Can't wait to check them out.

  19. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bailey! I know that I have so much to learn. I watched that clip, and it was really inspiring. It was actually pretty perfect. I've seen that movie before but it was a long time ago. Thanks again!

  20. I think that is exactly how each person SHOULD do religion, to be honest! But admitting it, just opens yourself up to knew truths! On that note, have you ever pondered what truth really is? I took a class in high school called Theory of Knowledge and I actually questioned my existence daily, but felt very spiritually connected by getting to that deep level.

  21. I just feel like people everywhere believe in different things, and different religions have come and gone overtime. Who's to say that Christians today have it right? Also, why is Christianity divided into so many different segments? Catholic. Baptist. Methodist. Church of Christ. They all practice different ways, but they're all Christian? It's just so confusing. Way over my head. Like I said, I do believe in God and consider myself a Christian, but if God gave us brains, I think that we should use them and not follow religion blindly. Everything we know was told to us by someone else. How do we know who's right and who's wrong? It's just all confusing.

  22. YES!!! Everything we know / read about religions is told from someone else. Some days I think it is just one big game of telephone. Good Luck navigating the religious waters and just follow your heart!!


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