Matters of Faith
The following post is the first in a series I plan to share each Sunday for the next several weeks.
This Sunday, I went back to church. I hadn’t been since Christmas Eve, but before that I’d gone several Sundays in a row; and before that, I’d never gone regularly in my adult life. We went inconsistently in my childhood, sometimes becoming regular for several months, alternating with absences lasting years. Neither of my parents were what you would call devout. In fact, I was never really clear what their beliefs really were; I know they were Christians ostensibly, and I’m confident both believed in God in some way. I just wish I could have come to understand what that way really was, respectively, for each of them. My dad passed away a decade ago. My mom, now 80, suffers from dementia. So I’m never going to know, in this lifetime anyway.
When I was 10, my mom heard that our church was holding confirmation classes. I completed them and was confirmed and baptized. I’m glad it happened to me when I old enough to be aware and make the decision for myself. I felt something that moment that I believe was (is) the Holy Spirit. Everything was set for me to get integrated into youth group and become a committed young adult Christian. But something happened; the church was changing, in ways I didn’t really understand at the time. All I knew was that my parents didn’t want to go there anymore, and didn’t bother finding an alternative destination for our Sunday mornings.
I held onto the Bible I was given upon confirmation, and around age 18, I decided to read it cover-to-cover. Much like this writing, I usually saved this reading for late at night and would often fall asleep before I could finish a book. I’m not sure how long it finally took me– something short of a year. I’m also not sure what I got out of that self-appointed project. I can say I succeeded in reading the entire Bible; many pages while I was half-conscious at best, and dozens of passages, even whole books, that I lacked proper context to interpret.
For a long time, I had a compulsion to pray every single night. I had to, literally, get on my knees, and it had to be in private. There were times I had to do it in a bathroom just to meet these conditions. I always asked for forgiveness if in any way I was praying wrongly. During bad years when I drank nearly every night, I made a point of praying before the first sip. The habit persisted well into my married years, and then, one night, I just decided to stop. I guess I reached a point where I knew I didn’t have to prove anything to God. Perhaps more importantly, I didn’t feel like God had to prove anything to me.
In this series, I hope to relate my own spiritual journey, and explore matters of faith, religion, science, scripture, God, good versus evil…. I know I could fill a hundred Sundays with all my thoughts on these matters, but just as importantly, I hope you will comment upon your own thoughts and beliefs.