Well, consider this Confession #1.
As of late, I have been having a crisis of faith. Lately, every time I step foot in a church, I am no longer greeted with the warmth of communion. I feel like my "prayers" are just bouncing off of the ceiling. I often find myself feeling alone, especially when I'm caught in the throes of a manic or depressive episode.
I don't deny that God exists. There is so much out there that we still haven't discovered, who are we to go on ahead and make a judgment about what is and is not out there? However, is it the same God as we humans have defined Him (or Her) for thousands of years?
I have seen the abuse and torture received by those who claim to "love their neighbor as themselves." I have seen the exclusiveness, the snubbing at anything that doesn't come from the pastor's mouth. Anything that is of the world is automatically considered evil and should not be touched or even acknowledged. I have witnessed those who would come out as LGBT who would then be exiled from their families, friends, and churches, all because they would use some book to justify their hatred. I have a gay cousin, and we don't even speak his name in the family. We don't even acknowledge his existence. It's like he's a ghost, wandering through the world all alone. I feel like my fellow Christians look at me strangely because I am dating an agnostic. I have been called "not a true Christian" due to my support for those who are traditionally snubbed by the Christian community: atheists, agnostics, Muslims, LGBT, pregnant teens, those who adopt faiths other than Christianity. And this misery is what comes of a way of life that stresses "love?" I have been extremely lucky that I have never experienced the type of abuse I am describing here. But not everyone can claim that.
And this is where my crisis of faith comes in. It's not that I am unsure of the existence of a Higher Power. I am just unsure of humans' interpretation of said Power. I have always considered myself a woman of faith, someone who thinks that anything is possible, and that we shouldn't automatically rule out something just because it sounds ridiculous. But by choosing to remain a Christian, am I siding with the abusers? I may never spout such bigotry or hatred myself (or I try not to, at least), but because I share communion with those who do, because I join hands with them every Sunday, am I a part of them? I think that's where the real "persecution" of Christians comes in. It's not because of anything about our values, but it's because of what we've done with them, how we've interpreted them. Christians have used the Bible to back monstrous crimes: pro-slavery, anti-women's suffrage, anti-Civil Rights, anti-gay rights, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism. People are automatically afraid that once you say you're a Christian--especially if you say you're a Christian from the so-called "Bible Belt"--you're going to start going on a rant about how evolution is of the Devil and that homosexuality is an "abomination." They are afraid that you will be exclusive. Whenever I walk into church on Sunday, I am bombarded by guilt and shame, because I feel like that by associating myself with such barbaric acts against humanity, I automatically become part of the cause. I am automatically by association anti-gay rights, anti-science, anti-woman, anti-poor people, the very things that Jesus was the polar opposite of. Or am I? The confusion pushes me farther and farther away from God... or whatever is out there.
Until I can answer this question, I don't think memorizing creeds or saying specifically worded prayers is going to help ease my confusion. I am just going to love. Isn't that what Jesus taught? "Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." Love, and the rest will follow. One can find God through caring for their fellow man, through giving to the poor, healing the sick, and in general just being a good person. Love is what unites us all. If there's one tenet of Christianity I will always keep, it is that God is love.
Love and Coffee cups,