Questioning Faith

When I was 3 years old, I loved going to church. Mass was held at Assumption Grotto, in Detroit. The church was majestic with its Gothic architecture. It boasted beautiful statues and stained glass images that captivated me. I studied the Stations of the Cross and felt sad as my mom and dad explained how Jesus died. I was a bit traumatized the first time my dad went to communion as I thought he was leaving us. Even though I couldn’t grasp the entire message, church was one of the highlights of my week. I loved Jesus. I loved God.

That love grew as I entered kindergarten. Sister Mary, a nun, taught us. She lived at the convent and explained that she was married to Christ. I decided that I was going to marry Christ, as well, although I couldn’t understand how He could have so many brides. Nonetheless, I practiced by putting a towel over my hair, like a habit.

That summer, we moved to California. I was not happy to be leaving Detroit, my house or church. My mom and dad assured me that California had churches too. That made me feel a little better, until we attended mass. It was nothing like Assumption Grotto. To make matters worse, my parents enrolled me in public school. I wouldn’t be going to church every day.

My parents went to mass on Sunday. I went to school so that I could make my First Communion. Many of the kids in my class also went to parochial school and I was treated like an outsider. I begged my mom and dad to let me return to church after I made my First Communion. They let me.

Meanwhile, I made friends in public school. My best friend went to another church. I also met kids who didn’t go. One Saturday night, I slept over at a friend’s house and was surprised that she didn’t go to church. I asked her how she talked to God. She said that she didn’t believe in God. I asked her if she was afraid of going to the Devil. She replied that she didn’t believe in that either. When my dad came to pick me up, I asked him if I could still be friends with her because even though she didn’t believe, she was nice. He assured me that I could. I was relieved.

Over the next three years, i realized that even though i still loved God, I no longer wanted to marry Him. Part of that had to do with the fact that many people in my life who didn’t believe were nicer than those who did. The hypocrisy confused me. My dad stated that going to church didn’t make a person good anymore than not going made a person bad. I asked him about God and he responded that it took all kinds of people. I realize now, he was practicing respect.

I also learned how true his words were.

The night before we moved from California back to Michigan, my best friend Rick told me that his cat wanted to say goodbye. Instead of his cat, I found Rick’s hand gripping the back of my neck and his voice hissing that he could kill me. He quickly backtracked and said that he didnt want me to move. I slept with my eyes open and repeatedly asked God how He could let this happen. My faith was shattered.

We moved to the same town as my dad’s family and went to the same church. I was apathetic. My grandpa, aunts and uncles were heavily involved. Many times the priests would come to my grandpa’s parties and leave drunk. Parishioners would make fun of other parishioners, right in church. I prayed to God to make it stop. It didn’t. That along with what happened with Rick caused me to question why God would allow things to happen and voice my displeasure. My aunt told me I was earning a ticket to Hell. My retort was, “some like it hot.”

Over the past three and a half decades, I’ve coped with various methods of self-abuse. With each method, I’ve challenged God to stop me, to grant me peace. Peace never came. My most recent battle has been with alcohol. In the past 10 years, I have been drinking or drunk nearly every day, with the exception of two 29 day periods of sobriety, this being the second one, and one 11 day period. Many times I broke down and prayed and even went to annointings, with no results.

I gave up hope of ever having my faith restored, three months ago, after a friend died. He was only two years younger than I am. He had a stroke due to high blood pressure. He left behind a wife and two young kids. At the funeral, his little girl asked why God took her daddy away. Her mom said that God needed him in heaven. It was so sad. I bit my tongue and held my tears of anger back.

Last month I had my own brush with high blood pressure. My feet were swollen and my reading was 210/163. I could have had a stroke at any second. I spent four days in the hospital having my blood pressure regulated, and detoxing from alcohol. My nurse said God wanted me alive for some reason. I expressed my anger in light of the fact that my friend died and I was still alive with no real ill health, and I really didn’t deserve to be. She outlined the events: going to work when I felt awful, showing my friend my feet on a whim, admitting my alcohol usage for accurate diagnosis and treatment, and having no desire to use again. I was too tired to argue.

When I came home from the hospital, my kitchen sink was plugged up and water had somehow leaked into my bedroom. I shook my head and wished I was 3 years old again, when my faith was solid. I still don’t know what to believe.

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24 thoughts on “Questioning Faith

  1. i’m so sorry you have, and continue to go through such challenges. i also was raised catholic but decided when i was 7, not to be catholic when i grew up. it happened when i was sitting waiting to go into the confessional and i had to make up a lie about something i had done in order to be forgiven by the priest and go to communion on the next day. i didn’t understand how a lie in order to be forgiven was okay in god’s eyes, because they told me lying was a sin and kids didn’t generally do things to be forgiven for and so i had to make something up. and my parents, both catholics, didn’t really follow what they were teaching us. i’ve lived my life by trying to be a kind person who does her best. kudos to you for not giving up, against such struggles. )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Beth. I’m sorry you went through that. I remember going to confession when I was young and thinking that the priest was God, and being terrified. I had a potty mouth even back then so all I had to confess was that I said the F-word. Your kindness shows through your blog and loving family. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Independence Day 1jaded1. It is rare that someone asks for opinions on Faith. Which is what I think you’ve just done. Personally I was brought up in a Christian culture but it was a lot more social than faith based. We went to church every Sunday until my objections allowed me to remain home. At that time, in the late 60’s, social bonds in the community were what drove it – work, friends, real estate, cars, etc. It was all about who you knew and churches were where those bonds were built. I couldn’t see where God had any meaning. As I grew, I found myself looking for some meaning in life. I studied science – for surely if it could explain where we came from with evolution, it held the meaning of why we were here too. No dice. I bought a tractor trailer and went trucking coast to coast. Some of the experiences that I had began to convince me that there was a lot more here than science could or ever would explain. I read a lot of scripture of different belief systems and found they all contained common threads – obviously saying the same things to different cultures in different times. The really odd things still kept happening. Things that shouldn’t happen, unless there was something a great deal larger than I was running this show. For instance, one night at about 2 am I was entering an Eastern city with a full load of produce and had a 2 am appt. It was going to be close whether I would make my appt on time so I was hustling. I started getting this feeling that I had to stop – but I brushed it off. The feeling got stronger and stronger as I left the highway and entered the town. It grew to the point that I couldn’t continue any longer – late or not – and I stopped on the green light at an empty intersection. I no more got stopped when a car full of teenagers came racing out of the dark with no headlights and ran through the red light cossing inches in front of my bumper. They were obviously drunk, joyriding and were doing easy 90 mph in a 30 zone – windows open , hollering and waving. The feeling disappeared. If there had been no greater power, I am sure there would have been 6 dead teenagers that hot night as they ran under my trailer and beheaded them selves. Think about all the people who loved them, the families they came to build, the spouses, the children, even the grandchildren. To this day I am sure they have no idea at all that God saved their asses that summer night.

    I often wonder how often my ass has been saved and I’ve not even been aware of it. That is just one small story of hundreds. Which was not to say that always happened, it didn’t. Another night I met a car in a turn on my side of the highway where there was no room to get away. The resulting headon collision killed the other driver – and I had absolutely no sense that anything was going to happen. My distrust of religions grew as I watched what they did in our world – even as my faith in a higher power grew. I eventually went on to do more studying at university and got out of trucking (that’s a story in itself , as is the university time). As I moved into management at various jobs, I realized that paying attention I could easily see how this world as I knew it, couldn’t have come to exist without a higher power. I mean if you equate intelligence with integration and organization – a simple blade of grass is more complex than the most complex thing ever built by man. If we saw a well tended garden that was weeded, flowers arranged in patterns, well fertilized and bordered by a wall, our first thought would be that there was organization here – a gardener existed somehere who did this and loved this. And yet we will walk through a beautiful, complex, living forest and say it happened randomly. Not likely.

    As life proressed I had challenges – cancer, kidney failure (from the cancer treatment) and so on. At each step, I could feel that there was a lot more to life than what I could see and understand. When the cancer was diagnosed, it was a lot worse than they initially thought, and they started radiation and chemo after exploratory surgery. The purpose was to shrink the tumor so it could be removed surgically.The amount of radiation,etc needed to kill it would have killed me as it was in my abdominal area. Everyday I imagined the tumor shrinking and being taken over by my healthy cells (I had seen the tumor itself from the video when they were exploring -it was in the colon – and oddly enough it was beautiful, but deadly and had to go). At the end of the treatment, they operated to remove what was left and it was gone.There was no sign it had ever been there. Of course, the treatment had seriously damaged the area around the tumor, so they still had to remove a great deal, but testing showed no sign of malignance. That astounded the doctors.

    Anyway, that’s just a small sampling about why I believe God. I don’t find that He ever stops bad things from happening, rather He seems to specialize in helping us through those bad things. I ask for strength and help understanding and accepance and I have always gotten what I needed to get through. As far as your friend is concerned, I gave up trying to figure out why some end earlier and some later – that’s beyond me, above my pay grade. I just do the best I can from day to day and try to help others. It does leave me with a sense of peace, knowing that I’m never alone here – and that I’m always loved, no matter how bad I screw things up.

    Anyway,1jaded1, that’s a piece of my story and why I believe. Thanks for the post, you made me think. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paul. Your comments always make me think. The hardest thing to grasp is how Divine Intervention seems to occur in some instances (your stopping at the green light, that could have been ignored) and not in others. The scientific method was perfect except when it wasn’t. I remember asking my teacher about unexplained healing.

      Thank you for sharing your life altering events and the outcomes. Definitely thought provoking.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have considered myself a “recovering catholic” for many years, although I think I’m over it now. Now I consider myself Pagan, which is very close to catholic. I find that most “christians” are not very christian in their actions or words. They are not kind, despite their church attendance and their proclamations of their salvation and my damnation. Which I believe is judging and that isn’t a good thing, either! Faith, no matter what it is in, is very hard; as you cannot see/touch/hear/smell that which you believe in. It is a matter of trusting that whatever you believe in is there. There is no right or wrong; there are only different paths that we can choose to walk. We are all different, with different experiences and no one can tell us what our path “should” be. At least, this is my belief.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for the comment. I’ve met nice and not so nice people in many different religions. It boggled my mind how people could be mean in church and sit through the mass with “amens”.

      You saying you’re pagan brings up memories. For a time, I used to read cards, ruins and even the Ouija board. Anything that was the opposite of Christian. I always kept a positive mindset in the reading. When I lived at home, my parents respected it, not many people I know would have.

      Your assessment of faith is spot on. It isn’t tangible, and that’s what makes it difficult to explain. Thank you again for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sharing your story is a big step in recovery. You have a lot of courage, clearly, as evidenced by going through detox. The great thing about faith, I think, is that you don’t have to define it narrowly, and every day you may find a different way to access that faith — whether it is through meditation, physical activity (sports or exercise), nature, friendship. I also was raised Catholic until my parents were divorced, and then my faith was on its own. I’ve lost it and recovered it many times.

    For me, the straightest path to recovering faith is through gratitude. I try to find something in my life each day for which to be grateful — my cats, my husband, the fact that I have a car and a job, friends, or just that I’m still here, figuring stuff out. Saying “thank you” to whatever is out there in the universe — Jesus, a higher power, Allah, whatever — doesn’t give me certainty but it does give me some measure of grace.

    You are not alone. Your sink maybe fucked up your day or week and maybe cost money you don’t have, but it is temporary. You will get it fixed and your house cleaned up. The fact that you are here and your friend is not does not mean that you should beat yourself up for surviving. It doesn’t mean anything. It just “is.”

    Several years ago I had a near-fatal heart attack. Three months after that, my sister died of a heart attack. I spent the next year beating myself up because it seemed wrong that she, who had a son, died, while I, who is childless, survived. I thought I had to somehow prove my worth to the world. It wasn’t a matter of worth or of God having something special for me to do (maybe she does but I don’t know what that is). It’s just life. And I realized that I could be grateful for surviving and do my best just to be a good human being. The rest will sort itself out.

    You need to take care of yourself to recover. Do you best to be a good human being (it sounds like you already are). Take it one day at a time, one minute at a time. You are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Meg. I’m sorry about your sister and how you could somewhat relate. I’m trying to live in the present. I’m more aware of people and things around me and have been giving thanks, as well.

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  5. I can so relate, being raised in an abusive, controlling strict “Christian” family. The church I believe turned a blind eye to the abuse. They put the father in every leadership role the church offers aside from pastor. There was even talk of that. Then 10 years in an abusive controlling church that attacked my Hubby constantly.

    It messes one up. The way I try to look at it, is it’s not a perfect world there’s free choice. Evil people make bad choices.

    I believe is Christianity is supposed to =love not judgement. Although I’m angry with God in areas, I know he’s okay with that. He can handle it and he wants us to be real. I’m just going to choose to love. Be honest with God where I’m at, and not listen to judgements anymore.

    I’m so sorry for what they did to you xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Zoe. I’m so sorry for what you have been through. It really does get confusing when one receives conflicting messages and judgement, even more so when it comes from family. I’m glad you are finding peace, in a sense. Xxoo.

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  6. It seems like losing faith is worse than not having any to begin with. I’m sorry no one was there for you all those lonely times when you were asking for answers. You are strong. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Interesting post. I’m curious why you think the Christian God has to explain Himself to you? Is it possible He simply lays down the path and what people do with it is their choice and if something trying happens how people deal with it is what God is watching? When people die who we think are taken before their time, is it possible this was their path and their soul’s road to eternity? Why do you feel He has to fix things for you instead of you taking control of your life and being the best person you can be? Is it possible He is waiting for you to step up and will be there to help you move forward? I hope you find the strength within yourself to stay dry and not find another vice to test God with.

    Every religion and faith has it’s good and bad eggs, perhaps you just need to find the right Church with the community that feels best for you.

    I hope you don’t read this as any kind of attack or negative reaction to your post, sometimes my words can read a bit harshly. It isn’t meant in that way. Maybe just some food for thought.

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    • Thank you for your honesty. I don’t feel that it was negative or an attack, at all. In answer to your questions, anything is possible. It is very well possible that He does lay down the path and watches our choices. I’m inquisitive by nature and even though it may not be my place to ask, I do, especially when things don’t make sense, especially when divine intervention seems to trump free will.

      After my friend died, I really did just throw my hands up and say “whatever”. I was too tired to care what happened. I am grateful (albeit still confused) that I’m still here, and I hope good comes from it. I don’t plan on testing God, the universe or “It” with anymore vices.

      Your reply did make me think and I thank you for it.

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  8. What a beautiful post. Sad, tragic even. No neat happy ending. That’s the beauty in it.

    I’m glad the hospital was there for you last month. Please try and take care of yourself.

    None of us has the faith we had at 3. I don’t understand the existence of God in relationship to all the terrible things that happen. A friend of mine who is a really strong Catholic says those things are not connected.

    It’s all terribly confusing, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing with us.

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  9. I’ve always envied many of the Catholics I know. Believing that whatever shit happens to be thrown at them always seems to bring them comfort. I, frankly, don’t get it.

    I was raised catholic until age 10, when my parents lost faith. And while there is part of me that would like to believe, well, I don’t. I try to live by the Golden Rule, and figure that will have to do.

    I am so very glad, Jaded, that you made it through your health crisis. Having had a bunch of them myself, I know that they can change your life. Make you search your heart and soul, as you seem to be doing, and get yourself sorted out. And I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I think losing people we love is the single shittiest thing that happens in life. When one of my sisters died in 2000 unexpectedly, I fell apart. Completely. It would have been OK if my falling apart had brought her back, or comforted me or anybody else. But damn it, it didn’t. I learned that just in time to lose my other sister. But I managed to hold myself together. Practice. And knowing that no good came of losing it.

    Good luck on you recoveries — emotional and physical. You can do it, and you have real and cyber friends who are cheering you on.

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    • Thank you, Elyse. The Golden Rule should be P1. With losing people, I get it…the falling apart and bargaining, it doesn’t bring people back.

      I’m making it and thank you for your support.

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  10. I don’t know what to believe either, Jaded. I grew up going to church, but I never really believed a lot of what they had to say. A lot of what they tried to teach us conflicted with the very passive and forgiving God we were worshiping. My faith has never been strong.

    I, too, adhere to the Golden Rule. It was the rule I was raised by, and it just makes sense to me. I’m glad to hear your sobriety is still going strong and I hope you’re feeling much better than you were the last time we spoke.

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    • Thanks, TD. Agreed. It does make sense. It would be nice if everyone thought so.

      I’m doing well, thanks. People say they can’t quite put their finger on what’s changed but they say it’s a good thing. I haven’t lost my edge, either. 😉

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  11. Jaded, you are loved, completely, totally and utterly. Despite, and because of, all the crap you’ve been through.

    It’s hard when people don’t live up to the ideal, when they can talk the talk but not walk the walk. It happens even in Community. I think the problem is because there has only ever been one person who was fully human – and he was also fully God at the same time.

    I’m still praying for you, my lovely. Xxx

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