FAITH. A seemingly small word, yet packed with so much power. Just mentioning FAITH can send some running for the hills to hide and others dropping to their knees to pray. My journey to faith has been down some long and winding roads.
It was important to my parents that their children were raised in faith, so every Sunday we attended service at our family’s Lutheran church. Everyone was there… Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Great Grandmother, and Grandparents; church attendance was a family affair.
All religion really meant to me as a little girl was I had to look proper in a dress, hosiery and fancy shoes (all of which I despised) and sit with adults to quietly pay attention to a older man preaching a sermon that went over my head most times. Yes “back in my day” there wasn’t a children’s church. Once you reached a certain age you were kicked out of the nursery and forced to sit with your parents on hard wooden benches for an hour.
Sad to admit… I was a Stepford Child of God. I had all the hymns, creeds, and prayers memorized at a very young age. Each Sunday like clockwork I knew when we were supposed sit and listen, when we were supposed to stand and pray, when we were supposed to recite creeds, and when we were supposed to sing. The Sunday service was choreographed and timed with great precision. This auto-pilot faith left me jaded.
In college I questioned everything about FAITH. In my quest for answers I explored. First, I stopped regularly attending church, so I could deprogram my pre-conditioned faith. Then, I transferred to a private Catholic college. On my first day, I was appalled when the priest professor proclaimed that cheating was a sin and we would go to hell. Oh. My. What did I get myself into here? It wasn’t long, maybe a semester or two, and I transferred back to a state school. I found the separation of church and state comforting.
At my new state school, a sorority sister was concerned for my soul when she discovered I had avoided church for years. She convinced me I needed to go one Sunday, so I reluctantly accompanied her to church. It was good to be formally walking in FAITH again, but I felt out of place, so after a few visits I had all sorts of reasons why I couldn’t join her. Soon my friend stopped inviting me. I’m guessing I was added to her prayer list.
Years had passed and I was working at my first corporate job. One of my coworkers reached out because she too was worried by my lack of regular church attendance. After weeks of badgering I finally agreed to attend with her one Sunday. Much to my dismay she was a member of a church that believed in four hour services. What? In my experience, church was over in exactly 59 minutes and 59 seconds (remember, perfectly timed). I was lost in this marathon worship service. By the end of the four hours people were flopping around on the floor and speaking in tongues. I wasn’t sure if it was a result of their faith or simply after four hours they had lost their minds? Much to my coworker’s dismay, I never returned to her church.
So based on these experiences I again retreated from church and continued my nightly prayers. During my hiatus, my grandmother called to express her concern. I remember telling her my faith was personal and private, that I need not attend a church to have a relationship with God and I assured her I prayed every night. As a God-fearing woman she was in no way comforted by my response and I have a feeling she increased her prayers for me. Looking down from heaven, Granny would be happy to know I’ve finally found a church that suits me perfectly. I may not attend every Sunday, but when I do I’m no longer a Stepford Child of God and the sermons are exactly what I need to hear.
Today I pray on my walk into work, throughout the day, and end my day with a nightly prayer – just as I did as a child when my parents would tuck me in to bed. I’m thankful my parents started me out on this spiritual journey. I’m grateful for all that I learned during my zig-zag path of discovery to find what faith means to me.
I find after much exploration, I still question formalized religion and I whole-heartedly believe in a higher power. For me, that power is God. Walking in faith is different for everyone. No matter how I’ve questioned my faith… my faith in God has carried me through life. FAITH is what YOU make it.
© Renae Rossman and Candy Coated Reality™