This is going to be a long one. Hang in there. I’m probably going to make someone mad here. If so, you know what to do – leave. This is for me. You don’t like it, you can’t go somewhere else.
I don’t believe in God.
Got your attention?
I don’t believe in organized religion.
That is the truth.
When I was three, my mother died. I was sent to live with my fraternal grandparents at some point when she got sick with polio, before she actually passed. I was raised by them until my dad got re-married when I was five. That was when my relationship began with God.
I used to have dreams of my mother. I could see her, but she was always out of reach. Beckoning to me to join her, I could never quite make it. I would wake crying and wondering why this had happened and why I couldn’t get to her. I remember praying to God to help me get to her.
My earliest recollection of church was summer Bible school in a very small town we lived in. The only thing I remember about that summer Bible school was the boy who had a small shiny red bicycle that I wanted to learn to ride in the worst way. (I’m still a sucker for shiny red vehicles.) When I finally managed to ride it I was so proud that I spilled the beans at home – leading directly to spanking and lecture, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 – for being on someone else’s’ bike. (No, I did not have one.)
My next recollection of church was in junior high when we moved back to the ‘big city’ and in an effort by my parents to make sure I attached to the right crowd, they found a girl who went to school with me that attended the Methodist church my parents actually were married in. It was in another part of town, so they arranged for me to start attending Wednesday night MYF meetings with her. (Methodist Youth Fellowship for those of you who aren’t familiar – most religions have some sort of similar groups for their youth. A lesson, a snack, and good, wholesome fun… uh…okay, whatever.) What they didn’t realize was this girl was a bored with it all as I was and we usually sat outside and talked while the fun and games part was going on. We go to know each other pretty well and she became my best friend.
When I became a little older, my grandmother got very sick and died of cancer. It was blessedly quick, but very difficult to lose a woman who I really looked on as a second mother. I started skipping out of MYF and instead of sitting outside with my friend, I began sitting in the chapel in the dark, trying to make some sense out of what my life had become. I was deep into the “dark years” of my life and saw no end in sight.
No, no light came down from the sky and spoke to me… no pews burst into flames… nothing at all happened. I thought maybe it was the approach. I began going to church on Sunday morning, hoping to hear a sermon that would lead me out of the darkness and show me the right path. Nope. Didn’t happen. I got a lot about “missionaries”… “underdeveloped countries”…”need money”… “money”… “money”… blah blah blah. I was crushed. Where was my guidance? Where was the hope? Where was the help for me, here, now? Did I have to be in an underdeveloped country to hear about God?
To Be Continued…