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Where do I belong? Is there a church that will welcome me/us? How do I teach my children when I don't know the answers myself?


#1

I’m not sure where to begin…so I guess some backstory. I grew up with a VERY religious family. We went to church every Sunday morning and night and every Wednesday night. All of my social gatherings were with the youth group and my parents didn’t want me to become “like the world”. I was to be the perfect Christian daughter…but I was a dissapointment. My dad consistently said I wasn’t a good enough Christian, that I wasn’t trying hard enough, that if it didn’t believe everything 100% then I didn’t believe at all, that I was either for everything he believed or I was not a Christian, that if I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to heaven, then I wasn’t a good enough Christian. He told us of how not to trust anyone, that conspiracies are all around us and that we were/are living in the “End Times and to BE READY!” .

I was obviously never going to be what he wanted me to be. I didn’t know 100% about anything… except that I wasn’t a good enough Christian for him. So, why try? I started sneaking out, hanging out with the guys more often and trusted EVERYONE. That led me to a party with “friends” who ended up doing something that I can still not call it by it’s name even though it’s been 16 years. They then told everyone that I started it and I was the slut. I went 2 more years of highschool with everyone being afraid to be close to me because “they didn’t know where I had been”. I was broken and used and discarded. And I couldn’t even tell my parents…now, I was never good enough for a “good Christian guy” I would be too “unequally yolked” with someone GOOD. So, I turned to shady guys and had the thought that I wasn’t worth someone really loving me. I put up with abusive and rediculous relationships before I found my husband. He is amazing and loves me and could care less what happened in my past, but will listen when I need to tell him. I thought he was too good to be true, but we just celebrated 9 years since our 1st date…and we are more in love than before.

I had not been to church very often once I moved out of my parents house, but once we started dating, I decided to try his church…a small Catholic church in a small town in Indiana. I started to fall in love with God again. I saw him in the little things. I felt him in the quiet. I felt him everywhere. But then I told my Dad…and he filled my head with his opinions on the Catholic Church. How it’s not Christian, how it goes against the Bible. That they are WRONG and so am I. So, my doubts came back and we tried going to “community” churches (non-catholic) because my husband said it didn’t matter where he went, church is church…and that’s where it all began. The more I started undstanding that we are talking about the same God. The same Bible and that there are thousands of different interpretations of the same book…HOW DO I SAY THAT “MY WAY IS THE ONLY WAY”?

How do I find a church? How do I talk to people about this?..then, oh then ““christians”” started blowing up the news and social media. Started spewing hate and “us vs them” talk. And it has continued for a few years now. I am so disgusted by my “Christian” family and “Christian” strangers that I do not even want to be associated with the term. Not, because I don’t believe in God, but because they have tainted the name so much…and I do not understand why they cannot see it!! My husband had a divorce before we met, and yet my brother and father say that “divorce is unforgivable” that marrying after a divorce is a sin and a BIG one. They say showing support to the lgbtq community is sinful. They say showing understanding to those who have done wrong “are biblical teachings”, we should tell them they are doing wrong so they can become christians". I have always felt like Jesus taught unconditional love. That we should not be sitting in our comfy churches talking about how bad everything and everyone is…we should be out there trying to understand our neighbors and showing them that they deserve love too…that God loves them no matter what they have done or what people have told them. We should stand out in a crowd by NOT being a bigot, by NOT being racist, by NOT being sexist, by NOT being homophobic, by NOT DISREGARDING CLIMATE CHANGE!! We should be the leaders of love the leaders of cooperation…and yet we are seen as the opposite!!

So, where do I fit in?? We have 3 young boys now and it has been over a year since we’ve been to church and we rarely talk about it. It feels wrong to voice concerns and doubts about our religion, so we just ignore it…but when our oldest asked “who is baby Jesus?” Around Christmas time, we were shocked and ashamed…and yet we still don’t know what to do or where to go from here.

Lately I’ve been intreged by the supporters of “Flat Earth”…not that I believe it AT ALL…but I’m simply in awe of how these people can look at facts and their own experiments that prove them wrong and yet still believe with everything that the Earth is flat?! They reminded of my dad’s response to any doubts or scientific findings…he always has a defensive response that doesn’t really make sense to me. So I started googling “why are conspiracy theorists making me loose faith in God”?!..and there was nothing. There was lots of articles about how believing in God can make it easier to believe in conspiracies and lots of atheists saying science is real but good isn’t.

But deep down I know God is real. I feel him when I remove all the noise and the need to know the answers…but does that mean I’m just like those flat-earthers who say they believe in their gut that the Earth is flat?

The videos on Heart Support we’re/are amazing and gave me hope. Hope that I’m not alone. That there is a community out there… I need help navigating this territory tho. I always hear the voice in my dad’s head saying “Don’t trust anyone” and that this is probably too good to be true, but I have to at least try to reach out. Try to get some answers…from someone I’m not afraid will call me a “bad Christian and mother” for having these questions.

Thank you


#2

Freespirit,

Thanks for posting and reaching out! I’m not sure if I can give an answer, but I want you to know you’re not alone. I find myself with similar questions right now and have been wrestling with them the last year or so. I do think that having questions is not a bad thing, but a good thing. It means we are growing in our understanding of the world. Sometimes what we believe in changes or the nature of it changes.

It is important to check what people tell us to see if it is indeed fact. I am working through this with my own belief in God and trying to find where I fit into everything. It does not help that I am at a college where they tend to have an us vs them mentality or if you do something or think a certain way you are wrong and need help. It has however allowed me to open my mind and work through these questions.

I would encourage you to continue seeking answers to your questions, and use the time to figure out who you truly are. I know it is hard because it feels like you’re identity is falling apart of us unknown, but this journey to understanding will pay off.

I’m sorry if my reply does not help bring answers, but just know that you are not alone in this quest for truth. Even the smartest and wisest people in history have question their very being and what was always taught as truth. I’m always here if you need to talk for anything as we seem to be on similar paths of seeking answers.

Thanks again for being open and honest! We love and are here for you!


#3

This whole section reminds me a lot of my girlfriend’s church growing up. She was then exposed to youth events through the Episcopal Church which is known for being much more liberal (which is how we met), and she found her religious background being challenged. Soon she disagreed and strongly disliked the church she went to growing up. LATER ON, she grew more comfortable and confident in her own specific beliefs and realized it’s okay if she doesn’t agree 100% with either. There are things to this day that she prefers about both. Also, when we are forced to try to align with very specific ideas and regiments, it’s totally natural to rebel – teenagers go through a phase of rebellion even when they aren’t under constant strict rule, so don’t beat yourself up about this. That’s okay and normal too. I’m really sorry that your normal behavior of acting out turned into that kind of relationship with the people around you. That can’t be easy. But it doesn’t make you crazy and it’s not even all your fault.

Also, you ARE worth someone really loving you. Doesn’t matter “where you’ve been” or what you’ve done. The Christianity that I know is Jesus paying the price for our sin and loving us so much that when none of us deserve it, He still wants us to follow Him and be with Him. With all this in mind it sounds like you met a really great guy, and I’m happy for you. Also, I agree with his opinion of church much more than your father’s. But I definitely understand this conflict of opinion that I struggle with in specific cases too (from having different groups of Christians in my life with pretty vastly different views on some things). You don’t want to completely disregard your father’s beliefs, but you also know what brings you closer to God instead of hating yourself. It’s tough, but I think you know what’s right in that respect.

This is such a huge thing. Most, if not all, my doubts about Christianity after being a Christian is from this. Churches I’ve tried that spew hatred that make me question everything about being “Christian”, etc. You get it so I won’t explain more but you’re definitely not alone.

Go with that. You’re right. It’s probably hard for you to disagree so much with your family but you know in your heart which view of Christianity is what Jesus would want.

Also, you are not like those flat-earthers. They believe what they believe from false science and whatever else. You believe what you believe from your faith. While there is lots of evidence, there is no proof that it’s real. But you know it is. There is no spiritual element to the flat earth thing; it’s just incorrect science and it’s wrong. Please don’t loop yourself in with that.

This community’s beliefs, from what I’ve seen, are a lot more loving than the one you described your family being involved with – and I have also seen that type of thing first-hand and it’s horrible and disgusting. I hope you find in this community that you are not alone, that you are not a horrible person, and that there is so much love and joy and peace to be shared. I am really glad you found a husband who seems to help clarify this spiritual battle with you and help you find what actually brings you closer to God. A loving community that cares about God and Jesus and people is to good to be true, but so is Jesus, and it still is true. It’s too good to be true but it still is. If that makes sense. But still, people aren’t perfect so everything is not going to go perfectly. Still, I totally get where you’re coming from and I’m still working out conflicts between things I’ve heard from different groups, but I believe that this community is doing it right. The way your husband’s church seems to. I hope you find peace, love, and joy in that <3


#4

It is such a HUGE comfort to see other people with similar views and an understanding of the unconditional love of God. Sure, I cannot answer all the hard questions, but people have been arguing about the tiny details of the Bible and the universe for centuries! Why would I think I’d somehow have the answers?! I don’t. When I am in the mindset of the needing to have the answers, I start to loose faith simply because I can’t answer the questions…like creation vs evolution…but does it really matter? No. What really matters is how we treat each other and how we treat our Planet. When I finally do let go and just remember that God is here and mysterious and we were never meant to have the answers, that’s when my faith comes back. That’s when I am happiest with myself and life.

I am so thankful that I stumbled upon this group. You have reminded me of that.

I guess I should also look at the things those boys did to me 16 years ago as another thing that I cannot change. That I cannot find the answers or go back in time and just not “go to the party”…yet here I am, happy, in love, mother of 3, and yet my mind still wanders there regularly and I feel ashamed. I feel like it was my fault. That I brought it on myself because “everything happens for a reason”. I am so happy that this kind of behavior is coming to light and people are talking about it and hopefully by the time my boys are in high school, this kind of thing will not be Normal, the woman’s fault, cool, “just what guys do”, etc… At least my sons will understand.


#5

Does anyone have a “denomination” that tends to lean towards unconditional love, open arms, open minds, truthful and open discussions, acceptance of global warming, and an acceptance of science? I am so hoping that someone knows of a church that we could try.

I should add that we are living in England.


#6

@Freespirit86

I’m not sure. All denominations struggle loving unconditionally. This is why we need Jesus. He is the One who can helps us to love. We can’t do it on our own. You don’t have to have all the answers. No one ask you to have them. We all are in a journey. We all are learning. We are still seeking. Don’t give up. God loves you. He is with you and He is here for you. You will have a church who will love you. Thank you for sharing.


#7

I love this group and the videos and messages about the group. I so wish that I could find a church that shared these views. One that answers in ways that Sledge does.

My father always told me that if I want answers , then I just need to read the Bible. The problem for me is, that when I decide to start reading the Bible, I end up having MORE questions then answers. I end up feeling deep sadness for the thousands, if not millions of people who died before Jesus came to earth. I am sadend by the thought of all of those women and children in our long history that had not choice in the religion that they must follow. I wonder…what happened to all those people who were not on Noah’s boat…did they go straight to Hell?!

Even in the worst moments and areas…there are people who are only doing what they are told. Are only following the orders of their superiors. Who don’t feel like they have the “right” to do anything else or who simply don’t know of another way. What happens to them when they die?

It is said that the world won’t end until every person on the planet has had the chance to at least be told of the choice to follow Jesus. But it has been centuries since it was written and will be even longer before every single person has that ability to “know their choices”…so what happens to all of those “lost soals” in the mean time that die? Do they go straight to Hell? Just because they were born in a place that doesn’t know it have been taught since birth of another religion…so they believe it to be “fact”?

This has always been my stopping point when I set out to “read the Bible”…it’s just too painful to think of all of those people who died not knowing. And if God does love us all and is all-knowing…he must know that those who do not have a voice and who have not had a chance to “convert” don’t deserve to burn in Hell… simply because of their gender or where they were born.

I wish there was an answer to my broken heated question…but I am afraid that is one of the many things I may never know.


#8

In the same thought process… And whilst I watch more videos that are posted on Heart Support, I begin to think:
Since our salvation is through the grace of God alone and not by how good we are and that everyone and everything can be forgiven but the grace of God. I start to think about those who murder. Those who commit genocide. Those that lead swarms of people to their death…if they come around to Jesus and sincerely ask for forgiveness, they have the right to do so and can be forgiven. But what about those that they have killed? What if they died before giving the chance to be forgiven and were killed before they could turn to Jesus? What happens to them? Their killer eventually repented, but not before killing people who had not had the chance to. I truly believe that it is through grace that we are saved. I believe it, but am curious about the other side of that. In not such a grusome light…what if someone has influenced other to do wrong, or influenced others to not believe in God, or taught that God is not real so believably that many turn away from God…and then at some point realize they had it wrong and God does exist…those followers would likely think that he/she had been brainwashed and their opinion becomes obsolete and then there is a slew of people left believing or following the wrong principals and ideas and paths because of this person who has later realized the truth. What happens then?


#9

@Freespirit86


#10

Wow!! What amazing lyrics!! It’s so fitting, and a good song as well! Thank you for sharing it!


#11

@Freespirit86

You’re welcome.