April 12, 2020

A Lost Faith

I haven't attended church since last Easter.

Although I'm certain that's not unusual for many people my age—no judgement—I was a Preacher's Kid (PK) and went to church even when I didn't have to go. I believed in the institution. I was married in church, we baptized our two sons in church, and I attended nearly every Sunday until my illness peaked in 2014. Our family could have dropped off the face of the earth... not really, but I stopped going to the church, a traditional Christian denomination, we'd attended for eight years, and no one called me for several months. A few months later, I formally "broke up" with our church. I sent a very detailed email to our minister explaining my various reasons so that he might learn from our experience. After our departure, at least one other young family left.

A year later, we were invited to a less-traditional Christian church by a friend. I thought we'd found a new home. Due to my health, I could only attend sporadically, but I always left feeling uplifted. Other than attendance, we didn't become involved in our new church. We attended some non-Sunday events, but never joined study groups or inquired about (re) baptism. I was fine with just having a place to go when we felt well enough to go. The last Sunday we attended, the minister seemed to direct his sermon at our family, focusing on the process (the bureaucracy of the church institution) rather than the 'helping others and making the world a better place' we'd come to appreciate. It started to resemble the 'repeat after me' blind rhetoric we had left behind. I felt less motivated to spend the little able time I had in a day persuading my family to attend church. Even after four years, we hadn't established any close relationships with other parishioners. The pastoral staff had never visited our house. After I received my charitable donation receipt for 2019, I sent an email to the church office informing them of our leave of absence. I didn't cut off the ties as I had done with our old church. Maybe I'll go back. Maybe I won't. But I left the option open.

I still believe in God. Our family says grace before every meal. We say bedtime prayers with the kids. But I carry guilt over the lack of religious instruction we've provided the kids. I never wanted to force religion on them. My overall parenting strategy is provide all the options, live by example, and let them make their own choices.

I have not lost my faith in God. I have lost my faith in humanity.

In general, Christians do not live the way Jesus endorsed. And it goes beyond our natural tendency to sin. I have come to the realization that I can't help everyone. But I believe if everyone does something to help others, then the world will be a better place. This pandemic has clearly emphasized the deficiencies in our communities. I feel like we are steps away from 'every person for themselves' chaos. In this uncertain and volatile world, I have to look very hard to find the good news.

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