I was practically born a Christian. My dad, along with just about every other man in my family, was a pastor. I was baptized as an infant and dedicated to the Christian God.
I was (am?) a devout Christian.
Despite being a devout Christian, I didn’t realize growing up that my natural relationship with Deity was, frankly, more pagan in flavor than it was Christian. I remember getting in trouble as a kid for drawing circles on the ground to sit and pray in. I always felt God more in nature than in the church, and felt a relational connection to plants and animals. I rejected fundamentalist ideas even as a young child in a fundamentalist church. I knew, deeply, that my God was good and kind and was different than the God often portrayed in sermons. I never believed it was a different God, only that the preachers had not really met Him!
I had very real interactions with Deity as a Christian. Most of that is too personal to go into here, but I could never deny what I experienced. Suffice it to say that God was personal, helpful, and very real in my life.
As an adult, I began studying theology and started realizing how much my personal beliefs differed from those of the Church. I tried very hard to submit to the teachings of the church, truly. When I couldn’t, I began exploring other denominations of Christianity. The word “practice” kept coming to me, that what I really needed was a spiritual practice. This was never emphasized in the fundamentalist belief-centered churches I had grown up in. So I began searching for churches that would give me some sense of spiritual practice.
I was delighted by the liturgical calendar, prayer beads, contemplative prayer, and other practices. Still, I struggled every time I tried to study and accept doctrine.
I continued to read. I imagine that you will all understand how reading can open up a giant can of worms. At this point, I can no longer intellectually assent to the Christian creeds or dogma. After much study in an attempt to strengthen my faith, I have actually lost faith in the Bible. This was devastating. I now strongly suspect that polytheism is “true.” And I find myself very drawn to practices that are considered sinful in my church. I find myself drawn to reading mythology. I’ve began a few very simple practices like smudging my home, lighting a candle or incense for meditation. These are simple, basic things that are actually frowned upon in my church. If anyone saw my bookshelf, oh my! I would probably be shunned.
Part of all this is due to my life circumstances. I’m going through a horribly painful time and Christianity simply isn’t helping me right now. Typical Christian answers make me angry. God has seemed very absent for the last couple of years, probably because my beliefs have changed, and I feel both sad and angry about this. I find myself longing for a female deity who can relate more to the difficult circumstances I am working through. I find myself connecting more with the upcoming solstice than the advent I usually observe.
I am torn. In the past, any “paganish” worship practices I experimented with were all done to honor the Christian Trinity. But after two years of unanswered prayers and the falling apart of my belief in the Bible, to paraphrase a comment I read somewhere (apologies for forgetting the source), I just want a good relationship with a good deity. Like I had before I began really studying the history and texts of my religion. I want to explore this path more.
Yet as someone who was baptized and dedicated to the Christian God, I have concerns about exploring this path further. Ours is a jealous God. For all I know, His silence and my horrible circumstances are all punishment for my doubts and refusal to submit to church dogma. This doesn’t jive with the God I experienced for all my life until recent years, but it certainly does jive with the Bible. I’m afraid I’m not free to seek out any other deities or try out certain practices, lest I invoke the wrath of the God I committed to in the past.
Does any of this make sense? Any words of wisdom as I try to sort all of this out?
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