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Crisis of faith?
2005-09-22 - 5:56 p.m.

I can't remember the last time I added two entries in one day! Must be an occasion.

Prompted by several things lately, not the least of which has been my friend Amy's discussion on her D-land page about her church and religion in generaly (I won't link her because her diary is passworded), I've been giving a lot of thought these past few days to my own personal spiritual life. Carla and I had a discussion yesterday, too, that only fueled the thought process, and now my head is full-feeling.

I posted in here a while ago about how I broke up with the church we'd joined when we moved into the house. I'm not sorry I did that--it was the right decision, as it wasn't the right place for me, but it's left me sort-of rootless. And I've discovered that I very, very much want to put down some roots.

I grew up in a very active Congregational church. Sang in the children's choir. Attended Youth Club on Wednesdays. Participated in the junior and senior high youth groups--in fact, my parents were the advisors. I taught Sunday school. I served as a junior advisor on the Christian ed. committee. I attended church camps and weekend conferences and the UCC National Youth Event 1988. I came thisclose to being a junior delegate to General Synod (the annual Big Church meeting) that summer, too, but the dates conflicted to my starting at Gordon--what a wrong decision THAT was! And speaking of which, I went to a Christian college, even if it was just for a year and I managed to flunk out rather spectacularly with the lowest GPA ever on record...After I returned home, I went back to teaching Sunday school and advising my own junior high youth group and generally being Very Involved, right up until I moved out of my house and into my JP apartment...

Then it all just...stopped.

In the ten years since then, I've been to church a handful of times, mostly on Occasions (Easter, Christmas, christenings, days when Kirk's father sponsored the altar flowers in memory of Kirk's grandparents), weddings, and funerals.

I miss it.

I didn't realize quite how much I missed it until I mailed that letter off to the New Church, telling them I wouldn't be returning. For something to have gone from being such a HUGE part of my life to being nothing--it left a hole I didn't even really realize was there.

Not that my belief has gone away. I've come to realize that I talk to God all the time. I just do it in a much quieter way these days.

Fifteen years ago, being a Christian was a part of my identity--it was a big chunk of my everyday life. Now, I look back at that and realize that I'm no longer comfortable with my old self.

The truth is, I miss the community of the church hugely, but the God part--I've gotten so used to that being a quiet part of me that it's hard to go back to its being quite so LOUD.

We went to church with Kirk's mom this weekend. She belongs to a Presbyterian church in his hometown--it's the church, actually, that he went to as a small child. The church service is not so different from a Congregational church service. It felt very familiar to me as I sat and listened and sang and pondered and prayed on Sunday morning. But at the end of the service, when the minister invited anyone in the congregation to come to the front for an extra prayer service, I was jarred. And later, when Betsy introduced us to the 30-something couple who run the 20- and 30-something Sunday morning Bible study and they gave us the Big Pitch to join them, my fight or flight instinct kicked in.

It's like my Spanish. I learned the language years ago, and it's all in my head, but I don't speak it very well. I don't need to start from Square One, but I need a refresher course to get me back up to speed. Well, I need a Christianity refresher course, too. I am spiritually uncomfortable, and I don't know what to do about it.

I guess the first thing I need to do is to find a place I feel comfortable and welcome to go, on Sunday mornings and for other church-community activities. That's a priority for me once our NH weekends are over. But my requirement list is pretty steep, and I've realized I'm not really willing to compromise.

And then, once I'm there...I guess it becomes a question of baby steps.

It's not quite a crisis of faith, but it's close...

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