I grew up going to church and I was raised in the Baptist church. The problem with the type of Baptist church I grew up in was that they were very, well, how should I say – sexist? They taught that women shouldn’t wear pants, women shouldn’t work outside of the home, women shouldn’t have short hair, women shouldn’t wear makeup, children shouldn’t go to public schools, dances, have televisions in their homes, on and on. Needless to say, everything my brother, sister and I did was a big “no no” in this church. Every Sunday our male Sunday School teacher would take one look at us and guess who the whole sermon in Sunday School would be about? Me, my sister and brother and what we did that week that was a “sin” in their eyes. Whatever.
This church was nothing about being Christian to others and if judgmental behavior had a picture beside it in the dictionary, this church would have been that picture. If you weren’t dressed to the hilt, both men and women, you were not allowed to step into the church. The married preacher was having an affair with the choir director but he could preach on how sinful I was being because he saw me walking down the street with a pair of shorts on?
Needless to say, my father and us kids stopped going there and church and religion left a bad taste in our mouths for years. Although my father had still kept his same beliefs in God and practiced many of the Bible ways throughout the years, it wasn’t until recently that he found a church and started attending again on a regular basis.
It has taken me years (20 years to be exact) to finally find a church where I feel comfortable going to and it took me that long to build up the desire to go back on a regular basis. We have been going to a Brethren in Christ church that is about five minutes from our house and we love it. I actually look forward to going to church now where before the times we went I felt like it was a chore and I was just going through the motions. This church has a comtemporary service with a band and all. Their motto is “Casual About Dress, Serious About God” and it’s nice to know that I am not being judged when I walk through the door.
The last few Sundays I find myself crying throughout the services and I know that all of these emotions I have and trying to deal with being chronically ill and my other problems is working its way out there at church. It may sound crazy to some, but I feel like so much is being lifted from me and coping with this life, or lack of life, of mine is becoming easier in a sense. It feels like the weight is lifting off of my shoulders and I feel free.
For 20 years I had such a huge chip on my shoulder surrounding church and religion and I feel that peeling away. I feel like I am finally letting go of some of that control that I have problems with and I no longer feel like I have to bear it alone. I know all along I didn’t have to bear it alone, but when you are a control freak like me, it is hard to admit that.
So I really feel that by going to church, letting down some of my control issues, and having this release is going to do wonders for my health in general – emotionally and physically.