On
from
pinterest
Why I Left the Church

And haven’t looked back

04.24.17
Why I Left the Church Man Repeller

I’ll never forget the foot sores. I was huddled between friends on a church floor when I first heard about them. It was late and Cindy, the warm and loving woman who ran our youth group, sat across the room. Quiet fell over the group as she addressed us in the kind of voice reserved for important conversations at sleepovers. She recalled the harrowing experience of growing up with chronic sores on her feet. They were incredibly painful, she explained, and they sometimes kept her from wearing sneakers or playing outside with her sister. My memory of the sores, which I never actually saw, is still visceral: red, bloody, sensitive to the touch. She and her parents tried everything to make them go away, she said, but nothing worked.

She told us that one night, she decided to ask God for help. She repeated the prayer for us just as she remembered it: a humble request, neither greedy nor entitled, but desperate nonetheless. The next morning, she told the dead-quiet room, the sores were gone. The bottoms of her feet were perfectly smooth. Healed. I had chills. She explained that the only reason it worked, in her opinion, was due to her complete and total faith in God.

The story came during a time in my life where I was, for the very first time, questioning the existence of a higher power. I’d spent the majority of elementary school nervous that an old white man with a white beard was watching me (whether it was Santa or God varied day-to-day). Unfamiliar with the concept of omnipotence, I imagined my life like a channel he flipped through every once in a while. Whenever I did something bad, I quietly hoped he was tuned in elsewhere. It’s all pretty creepy in hindsight. Very Truman Show.

I didn’t grow up in an explicitly Christian household. Scripture was never quoted over dinner, there were no crosses on the walls, I’m not even sure we had a Bible. But we believed in God, attended a Methodist church every Sunday and joined age-appropriate choirs with a dogmatic sense of responsibility. We went to church like we brushed our teeth. Mom told us God was real like she told us China was real, and why in the world would I doubt the existence of China?

When I got older and understood that believing in him was a big part of the deal, it dawned on me that there was an alternative option. But once something is baked into your kid brain as truth, it’s hard to unlearn. There was a long period wherein I performed unspoken tests: If God is real, this paper will fall off the table. The paper, which was already at risk of falling, would drift to the ground and I’d think, whoa. I really wanted to believe.

A year into high school, at 15, I stopped attending church. I was feeling increasingly disconnected from the youth group and sports started taking precedence on weekends. My mom never forced me back unless on special occasions — it just wasn’t her style — and the physical displacement gave me a new sense of objectivity. I got comfortable with the idea that I couldn’t know if there was a God. More than that, I got cozy with the fact that I thought it increasingly unlikely.

When I went away to college, my distance from the church was cemented in a more tangible way. When I’d return home and join my mom for a holiday service, I saw the whole place with new eyes. It’s not that I found the sermons outrageous — it was a liberal-minded church, after all — it’s that it all suddenly struck me as a little…unquestioned. The robotic call-and-response. The praising of an invisible spirit. I didn’t feel unsettled by the people themselves (everyone who attends my old church is lovely and kind), but I couldn’t shake my surprise at how different a little time and distance made the whole thing seem to me. It made me feel like I’d been manipulated. Like my impressionable kid brain hadn’t been given all the options.

Throughout college, I carried a distinct antipathy for the concept of organized religion. Why did people need a reason to be good? It didn’t help that religious extremism was a major source of war and oppression during that time and still is. Over the years, though, I’ve softened a lot. I’ve grown to appreciate the community benefits of religion and the emotional ones, too. I’ve also transitioned out of that arrogant time in my life when I assumed I had all the right answers. But true, too, is that once I separated my consciousness from the Christian dogma back in college, atheism has felt like home to me. I’m grateful for the religious freedom that enables me, and all of us, to decide that for ourselves.

Illustrations by Amber Vittoria; follow her on Instagram @amber_vittoria.

Get more Brain Massage ?
  • Lindsey

    Thanks for writing this, Haley!

    Both my husband and I were raised in the church, him a more liberal-minded one, mine verrry conservative Evangelical. We both went to Christian colleges, and even both went on to grad school to study theology (which is where we met), and we now both work at that same school. And yet, both of us feel so far away from the people and ideas that surround us every day. Just last night, he asked me, “Do you ever see yourself attending church again?” and I really realized, No. I don’t. We were talking about how even though we would probably both consider ourselves Christians, we don’t see a need to participate in church at all…or even any kind of religious activity. And honestly, that is something to grieve. That our faith, while we still have it, doesn’t feel secure, or even *good* all the time. Losing surety is definitely a loss. While I feel so much better about the open-handedness we’ve both come to gain about faith in general, it’s hard to feel on the outside of a whole group of people who, in theory, believe many of the same things as you, but with a fervor I can no longer muster (and wouldn’t want to, anyway).

    I don’t know. I think religion can do some really beautiful things, and I do still believe in Christianity for myself. But there’s no certainty in it for me. I suppose that’s the faith part of it? Either way, I do still grieve the ways I wish religion could be, and the fact that so few people seem to really act in the ways they say they believe in. Maybe that’s the true loss here.

  • Natalie

    Really appreciated this! Definitely something I’m going through right now, albeit probably a decade later/a decade further into my belief than you were when you stepped away.

    “But once something is baked into your kid brain as truth, it’s hard to unlearn.” IT’S HARD! But stepping back has also felt so at home, like you describe. I told a friend recently it’s like taking off a heavy coat–it’s own weight helping it fall off easily.

    • Haley Nahman

      Wow what a disarmingly gorgeous metaphor

      • Haley Nahman

        (that could be applied to so many different things)

  • Lil

    I love your perspective, very open minded. 🙂

    I come from a similar background. Around 18 was when I stopped forcing myself to go to church. I went on for a bit as agnostic and then atheist. Recently I came across the personal conclusion that I couldn’t accept the idea that we’re all here for no reason or by accident. Our bodies are too complex and wonderful. Nature is too beautiful and serene.

    I feel much freer and more spiritual now more than ever. I do believe in a God, but minus all the guilt trips.

  • This is pretty much my exact story with church, though I don’t think I ever really looked back at why it happened as it did. I was very involved as a young person, mostly in the community aspects, but it was more out of obligation rather than having a clue about what I was taking part in. I’m very much against organized religion now (though I can see some a few of its merits), and I have my own personal relationship with the universe.

    I think we all figure out what’s right for us eventually.

    http://www.shessobright.com

    • kellymcd

      YES! I struggle so much with the idea of raising my future children practicing any religion because they’re so young and impressionable! All I knew for a while as a kid, was if I was well behaved in church, I woudl get a donut afterwards. I didn’t want to be there, I had to be there

  • Madeline Whitsel

    I really appreciate this post. I was raised in a liberal Presbyterian church that I loved growing up. Our church was very open minded about personal faith and relationships with God and all of the people who worked with the youth programs were very open with us. However, both of my parents come from very conservative Evangelical families, my mom was a missionary kid. There may have always been a feeling that they thought we weren’t doing it right.

    In college did my B.A. in comparative religion and loved it, and even after that (2012) I think I still identified as Christian. But honestly I have no idea where I stand now. I’m constantly frustrated by one political party’s domination of the “Christian” moniker and conflation of political and theological ideology and what I see as very hypocritical “Christian” behavior, my own extended family included.

    That said, what I value most from my own religious experience is the carving out of a quiet space for reflection on one’s own life, society and meaning. Presently, I don’t think we have enough spaces that encourage or require this type of thought.

    • Sheila T.

      I was a comparative religion minor in school, and what struck me harder than I thought it would was how much in common different religious communities share. It was so valuable to me to learn about different religions and meeting people from different backgrounds in settings where people are interested in learning from another and are open to discussion of harder topics. It strengthened my faith–if not my religion–to realize that so many smart, logical people still have faith in a higher power.

      • Madeline Whitsel

        We had a Religious Explorations Club, which sounds super nerdy, but we essentially just drank wine and talked Religious theory and personal experience and it was awesome. We made t-shirts that say “we’re in it for the prophets, not the profits” which couldn’t be more true since I’m about to start an MAT program (the profits part of being a religion major hasn’t totally panned out) haha. I think one of the most enlightening things for me as well is that soooo many different religions developed with so much in common from vastly different societies and areas of the world. To me that indicates a common human yearning for meaning, but at the same time it’s why I find it so hard to accept that there is one correct religion and so many wrong. There is such a difference between talking to someone about religion who only wants the knowledge of another’s faith so that they can better pick it apart, and someone who is genuinely open, interested, and listening.

        To your point, it is heartening to me as well when I find other people who seem to care at all about reflecting on being human and our shared circumstances.

        • Sheila T.

          I 100% agree with what you said about the improbability of there being one true religion. That’s why I love learning from others so much- I feel like opening myself up to new discussions is my way of joining the common search for meaning. I would have loved to join your Religious Explorations Club!

          • Madeline

            We would have welcomed you! If I’m being honest, I still try to turn late nights with wine and the right people into Religious Explorations Club haha. I love hearing other people’s perspectives on meaning too, it feels almost as necessary and energizing as something like eating.

          • Leslie Petersen Stone

            All of your comments ladies…YES! I, too, was raised in a Methodist Church growing up, and started thinking critically of religion as a whole in high school. I also kept asking myself…”if there are so many different religions, what makes all of us so sure we’re in the ‘right’ one?” And to think mine is the only true and correct one, is so incredibly close minded. The event that sealed the deal happened shortly after I married my husband who was raised catholic. He wanted to go to mass one Sunday so we went to a Catholic Church in our new neighborhood. The priest welcomed us, asked if we were catholic, I obviously said I wasn’t, and then he asked to find him after the service. My husband went up and took communion, service was then over, and the priest told him that since he married a non-catholic, that he was no longer allowed to take communion, but to bring me in and he would (I kid you not, he said this) fix me. I lost my composure and burst into laughter. Fix me? Because I’m not catholic? NOPE! I’m out. And to echo one of you ladies thoughts above, I too LOVE discussing other religions as a way of understanding our world and the people that inhabit it, especially after several glasses of wine!

          • Madeline

            At my church everyone was allowed to take communion, but we only did it once a month. One time in elementary school I stayed the night at a friend’s house and went to mass with her the next day and deeeeeeeefinitely took communion. Not confirmed at the time, and not Catholic. And no one stopped me. It wasn’t until later that I realized it was a big deal. It’s a little like a badge of rebellious honor at this point, but it was definitely just an accident at the time.

          • My leave-taking from sunday school was the letter from the school to parents, where the teacher wrote about turning children into people. And that was it as far as my mom was concerned. I already was a people.

  • The Santa-God statement made me lol.

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Sheila T.

    This is so honestly written! Organized religion can certainly be problematic, but it can also bring so much richness to life, whether that’s through religious art (Rumi’s poems are so beautiful), symbolic meals, or occasions that bring people together (my parents met at my cousin’s baptism!). Understanding some of the problems within an organization is important, and so is thinking for yourself and coming to your own conclusions, but there is so much value in religious communities and traditions, too.

  • Autumn

    Girl, this is exactly me! Same story. Though i consider myself an agnostic more than an atheist. Because you never know…

  • It is so refreshing to find someone who had a similar experience as me (I was even raised Methodist). The idea of organized religion makes me uncomfortable. The blind faith. The expectancy of complete belief in the dogma. How we almost scare children into believing it.

    While I’m not sure if I consider myself an atheist, I’m still questioning. Perhaps I’m just yoga-spiritual and not saint-spiritual (the colors of the wind and all that jazz). I can understand how the institution of religion can help many people, and I have nothing against it as long as its ideas are not used to harm others or pressure me.

  • Jessica Downing

    My parents aren’t very religious, my dad not even a tiny bit, but my grandma took my sister and I to her Baptist church every Sunday with her growing up through when I graduated from high school. The entire time I always felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t feel the ‘connection’ to God that everyone always talked about. I never had any friends in the youth group but everyone else were really close friends, so that really sucked and I hated going. I think the only reason I survived all those years was that I started volunteering in the nursery and just got to spend the morning with babies and didn’t have to go the services. When I left for college I started to get more into politics and realized that I didn’t agree with pretty much everything the church I grew up in stood for and questioned everything. It’s so ingrained into me that parts of things I was taught still pop up in my life here and there, but for the most part I’ve accepted that right now religion isn’t something I need or have any desire for in my life and that church is 100% not for me. Growing up in Portland OR made the whole transition a bit easier since atheism is pretty big here, but it’s still been an interesting journey.

  • Rafaela Garcia

    Yassss! I love the open mindedness, honestly put how I feel about religion into words. I separated myself from religion( catholic) a couple of years ago. Buuuut, I agreed to be a godmother in a month, I was on the spot. But I didn’t think too much of it because I love my soon to be god child, hello a new dress, and a party. Not exactly all the right reasons. Her parents still think I go to church…The day is coming up and I am panicking about being in the church and feeling like everyone knows I’m a fraud.

  • kellymcd

    This is such a well written piece and I identify with it so much! I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school for a portion of my childhood. In high school, I began the process of confirmation, where I met my boyfriend who was DEEPLY Catholic, as was his large family (8 kids!!!!). Because of this, I became more tied to my Catholic faith by proximity to him. But deep down inside me, I always saw church as a thing to check off my list each week (like completing a chore) and didn’t think I was considered a better/more faithful person because I went. I began to realize this even more as I saw my boyfriend so deeply rooted in Catholicism and the Catholic values that I had a hard time stomaching. At one point, I attended these discussion groups with him where he and other like minded young adults discussed how to “defend” their religion. Essentially, the point of these “discussions” were to talk about how much better you were because you chose Catholicism over any other religion (specifically Protestant) and find reasons as to why (usually in the Bible). Being naïve and in love, I went along with it while having a major internal battle as to WHY I was there when I didn’t agree with any of it. On top of all this, my parents were absolutely THRILLED that I chose such a devout Catholic and therefore “safe” (no sex, obviously) boyfriend. A lot of outside factors told me this was the right thing to believe and be involved with even though I had a hard time in my heart and soul truly feeling attached to it. As Haley describes, there is this want to believe in a God so badly, but as you gain experience in life, it seems impossible to do. You begin to question if you are blindly following, just like those you see around you.

    We broke up before moving to college and I finally felt free to stop living my life by standards I didn’t agree with. I stopped attending church and now only do so when I’m home for a holiday with my mom. I don’t have an overwhelming sense of guilt hanging over me constantly. I’ve learned to accept that I am not a bad person because I am not a practicing Catholic. I’ve found too many people use their religion as a way to make up for terrible behavior they exhibit in their day to day life. I still have a very hard time wrapping my brain around how people think to act or live a certain way to appease a higher power they’ve never seen instead of just doing it to be a good person to humanity while you’re alive.

  • Des

    Going to Roman Catholic Church is something I did regularly as child without appreciation.. it wasn’t until I was an adult and out of my awkward phase where I questioned everything that I was able to feel a true connection to God. The reality is you will never truly feel God unless you call for him, and you will never truly find him in a deep materialistic and self driven society either without searching for Him. I can vouch for this. A year ago I attended a prayer group with him Mum because I had heard great things about the speakers and healers who spoke there. Next thing I knew I was roped into an 8 week long seminar that I really did not want to be a part of. It turned out that seminar was the most enlightening spiritual experiences that I have ever had and it made me feel the closest and most connected to God I’d ever been. I relearnt how to pray and practice my faith and I can’t even describe the feelings I had in this small message. I’m not one for the politics of Church but I appreciate it’s the community and place where you can always feel welcome and at one, afterall it was the place where I was able to find and renew my spiritually. Best, Des x

  • Wow, this is basically exactly how I feel about religion. I was baptized orthodox, but growing up I’m not even sure what kind of church we went to. My family had moved to Australia and I think my mom only made us go because she wanted to make friends to practice English with. We were never super religious at home because my dad wasn’t Christian. Then my parents divorced, and my mom started dating a man from her country that was religious. She started going to church again and even started hanging icons around the house and even in the car. She made me go to orthodox church on holidays, but it always felt kind of strange to me. After I moved out she stopped forcing me but she always invites me to church on holidays and I have to awkwardly decline.

  • cryptdang

    I’ve been following Man Repeller off and on for several years (I’m not sure how many…but I remember when it was just Leandra), and hadn’t been reading much for a while until lately. Cause recently MR has just been so darn good! And I’ve noticed a lot of the articles that are great are Haley’s. Love your pieces girl, the serious and the silly.

  • Blair Ely

    I was raised catholic and tend to think about things in extremes. i.e. life and death, what do my beliefs (in general) mean for the way I live and the way I die? I’m writing a paper about and researching that right now if anyone has thoughts to contribute or is curious, please click and answer a few short Qs: https://goo.gl/forms/Qq1fzul1A9W2UEjj2

  • Erin

    I enjoy attending Catholic Church, only on occasion. I enjoy the ceremony of it, more of the ritual. I went to Catholic Church as a child, and stopped going pretty early on…our home life as kids was fairly tragic, I think church just wasn’t really a possibility anymore, given how traumatic my parent’s marriage was. My father is not a good man, and was extremely abusive. my mom eventually divorced him when I was about 10 years old. Both of my brothers are now extremely religious, and I don’t really have a relationship with either of them anymore. I am a firm believer in separation of church and state, and they are definitely not. I also believe in women’s rights, and they do not. the election really brought me clarity on how much our differing beliefs affects my relationship with each of them. they both voted for trump, and actively encouraged their friends/family to follow suit on social media. I can’t understand why anyone who considers themselves a christian could vote for such a horrible man, especially given my older brother has 2 daughters. I’ve spent the last year going to a therapist, and I’ve managed to accept that I won’t have a real relationship with them, and that its ok if I do not. It’s been very liberating in a way, finding out they backed trump, (and lets not even get into how they both love guns now? wtf??) because I’m now free of considering their judgements of me. Seeing how they regard women I’m finally free of it.

  • alice

    In reading what all of you so rightly point out about the flawed nature of our religious institutions, I think you are forgetting a primary theme in the Bible: Man is sinful. It would therefore follow that the best of our organized efforts would be fallen as well. That said, we come together and read scripture, not to perfect ourselves, but to recognize our mutual need for rescue-and to look into the heart of the only One who can rescue us! In the Bible a father seeks healing for his child. He cries out with tears “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief”. Even with his doubts, his child was healed. All of us have doubts intertwined within our faith. It’s part of our human and sinful condition-but we are also all created in God’s image with impossible beauty and significance.
    Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! God is knowable. His love is too powerful and wonderful to miss out on because of a bunch of flawed messengers (haha including me)!

    • Thank you for being so brave and commenting like this!

  • Perry

    Toronto has hipster church: http://www.c3toronto.com/

  • Lee

    Breaking up with God was a very monumental moment in my life. It’s a hurdle that my brain couldn’t have experienced without organized religion.

    I’m okay with not being sure “what to believe in” and realize as I get older that that concept itself stems from my previous beliefs. That Christian shame, el oh el.

    Thanks for writing!

  • This is an interesting article and it doesn’t surprise me in the least that many people in the comments section seem to have had similar experiences.

    It also doesn’t surprise me that you Haley “left the church” because your parents (no disrespect intended) don’t seem to have a very strong belief in God. I could be entirely wrong about that. Have your parents ever expressed concern or asked you why you’ve left the faith?

    I grew up in an abusive home, was rapped at 13 by a boyfriend I met at youth group, and entered into a life of chasing after the affection of men to cure my deeply unmet need for love from my father.

    My mother was religious but never really healed from her own abuses, so the love of God was never really taught to me.

    I boldly and arrogantly walked away from the church, from God, and from Jesus, went to college and continued to live a life of utter struggle. Hopped from one crappy relationship to the next with guys that either had drinking problems or were total deadbeats.

    No matter how much love I seemed to have to give, I never found a healthy outlet for it. I lacked self-esteem and believed that I was just a lost cause. I attended art school in Chicago and had one friend in my dorm that was a Christian. She kept encouraging me to come to church with her, kept reaching out, kept speaking the truth to me even when I didn’t want to hear it. I would go to church, listen, read the Bible and feel comforted but still completely lost – still addicted to wanting a relationship that would be my everything.

    Somehow, someway I kept opening up my mind and heart to God even though I had no idea what that really meant, even though I was politically aligned with more liberal views at the time, and even though I still slept with guys, got drunk, and cursed like a sailor.

    It seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake the feeling of shame. I was ashamed of my past, my present circumstances, and sure my future held nothing promising.

    Then one day I hit a rock bottom. I walked in on my boyfriend sleeping with another girl. I finally came to the conclusion that my life alone and un-compromised would be better than together with someone for whom I had to constantly compromise.

    I remember praying to God while walking alone one night, “Lord, if you are there then you know that I can’t do this on my own. My best gets me this far. So my best sucks. I need you. I need your help to walk away. If I give my life to you, will you promise to be on the other side of this bridge waiting for me?”

    I walked under the bridge, passed through and arrived at the other side. A peace and confidence I have never known came over me. Once and for all, I finally understood that my life was never meant to be lived on my own, by my best efforts. Jesus offers me the gift of His perfect life. When I accept that “I can’t” and that “He can”, I am free.

    I was 22 years old when that happened. I am 32 now and have a total and complete love for Jesus. People will scoff at this. I’m ok with not being “cool” anymore. I went from being a punk atheist to a seeker to a believer. The world cares about trends, influence, wealth, appearance, and status. God looks at the heart.

    None of us can ever know what’s in a person’s heart fully. So I forgive the religious people who are bland and boring, abusive, and half-hearted. I forgive my abusers and my caregivers who were supposed to protect me. I forgive them and love them.

    Real followers of Jesus have personality, trials, whit, vivid self-expression, art, beauty, power, and abundant generosity. Not sentimentality, religiosity, or moralism. They love God because He has changed their lives.

    Very few people have ever encountered a true follower of Jesus. When you do, you will know. Much of the church is going through the motions. Haley, I would say that in a sense, it’s good you left the “church”. None of us seeks after God. But he is a God that seeks after us.

    I shall leave you with this story sister of a conversation between an early Christian and her neighbor in Rome.

    “Ah,” the neighbor says. “I hear you are religious! Great! Religion is a good thing. Where is your temple or holy place?”

    “We don’t have a temple,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our temple.”

    “No temple? But where do your priests work and do their ritual?”

    “We don’t have priests to mediate the presence of God,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our priest.”

    “No priests? But where do you offer your sacrifices to acquire the favor of your God?”

    “We don’t need a sacrifice,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our sacrifice.”

    “What kind of religion is this?” sputters the pagan neighbor.

    And the answer is, it’s no kind of religion at all.”

    • alice

      God bless you Brianna!

  • Amen

    👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🙌🏻

  • tiabarbara

    there are many people in my family who hold tight to their faith. as a toddler, my teta (grandmother) would drag me to church kicking and screaming; after the services i would complain of crippling headaches.

    in my early years i was raised solely by my mum who never showed outward signs of Christianity as one would assume (when i found out that she did believe in God i almost didn’t believe her because it made absolutely no sense to me), and i attended a public school for most of my early years. to me, church was a burden and i had no reason for being in one. my brother, on the other hand, felt sure in his faith (he had attended Sunday School and was very close with my teta). i remember once when i was very young he tried to teach me how to pray and i was utterly confused.

    i transferred to a catholic school in grade 5 and had never felt so isolated in my life. i suddenly had to learn prayers, and wax lyrical about a belief that i didn’t have because i was afraid to be different. i then went to a catholic high school and was forced to study religious education. nothing changed for me; i still felt a distinct “me vs. them” mentality, and this was only reinforced when my cousin was murdered and i thought “what god would allow this to happen?” – but i get it, free will and all that.

    truth be told, i love churches. i like to sit in them and find peace of mind, but i don’t attribute that peace with faith in God or some benevolent higher power. i have never in my life felt that all-encompassing love that believers preach about, and if i’m being truly honest religion itself makes me very uncomfortable. people use it as a crutch, as an excuse for war and violence. but i also know that a lot of people use it for healing and to find meaning.

    i can, and will, respect a person’s faith but i will never understand it.

  • Rachel Danielle

    not sure where i’m at, myself. i like this v much.

  • L Winfree

    My parents took us to church every Sunday and hosted a bible study group at our house every Friday, but weren’t too rigid or strict in their beliefs…I couldn’t even tell you what branch of Christianity we practiced.

    When I was 13 I stopped going to church because I had always felt a disconnect and discomfort–everyone claimed to feel “his presence” and it baffled me that I never felt anything. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Perhaps I was supposed to clasp my hands differently while in prayer? As a kid I felt really bad for my inability/rejection of blind faith, and I was envious of those who did possess it. I also really hated being made to hold hands with other kids at Sunday school and sing kumbaya. The best part about church was getting to hang out with my best friend, munching cookies and lemonade.

    Despite my discomfort with religion, I do have many good memories of going to church. The church building itself was rather old, and had a lot of twisty “secret” hallways…there was a bridal dressing room on the basement level. It contained a large medieval wood vanity with a gigantic mirror. While exploring one day, my bestie and I found out that the vanity was actually a secret door, built into the wall with hinges. It opened into a tiny, windowless room. Apparently it had been used to hide runaway slaves in the past.

  • kitmcc

    @Brianna. Your story is amazing and inspiring – I love how your faith has transformed your life. I’m Haley’s mom and I would have to say you are mostly right in what you said (no offense was taken), I do not have a strong enough of a belief to have instilled that in my kids. I’ve always been conflicted about religion and remain so today.

    What I love about faith is believing in something bigger than myself, believing there is a purpose to our life. I love a community coming together to inspire each other to be our kindest and best selves and care about something bigger than ourselves.

    But at the end of the day, I have no idea what the truth is. Mostly I wanted my kids to be loving, generous, kind and NOT judgmental – the best parts of religion. And I never in my heart believed or embraced that one religion was better than another – it seems this can’t possibly be true (IMHO). I chose a Christian religion because it’s what I knew, not because I ever strongly believed it was the one and only (I grew up Catholic). The thing that makes religion be a negative to so many is when those who believe think they know something that others do not; when in fact we can’t KNOW for sure. Even if we personally know (do you know what I mean?). I think you see my pattern of doubt here :).

    I think Haley’s sister and brother share her views very closely. I haven’t questioned them mostly because I don’t get to control it, but also because I feel that they are loving, generous, kind and work really hard to not try to be the judge and jury on other peoples life choices.

    I worry about a lack of community today, people living isolated lives on our computers and not gathering to journey through life and celebrate our joys and griefs together (in person). Church (maybe not religion?) gives that to people. I think our political climate is making people realize this a bit. The Woman’s March made people feel community, a sense of common purpose. It seems we are losing that as a whole, and that worries me. So maybe Trump is happening for a reason???

  • I spent yesterday sorting books for a Methodist church rummage sale, for a pal who teaches sunday school. I haven’t set foot in a M church since my mother let me quit sunday school and started me on the road to atheism, almost 50 years ago. I believe my time in Sunday school informed most of that. I got some crap for my sorting time from my family and a couple people also working the sale, and my response was pretty much how I feel about the whole thing:
    It’s your faith, and I don’t question other people’s faith any more than I would tell them how to feel. I hope they have faith in something. I put mine in other people. We are alike in that this faith is often misplaced.
    But I get up every morning and I gotta believe.