Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Biting the Hand that Occasionally Feeds Me

This past Sunday I went to church. If you're new to my life. I don't go to church that much. In fact, after 30 years of a strict religious adherence, I left all religion behind.

And yet, last Sunday, I woke up early and drove 30 minutes to a tiny building where a small branch of my church people meet. I didn’t do it because I needed spiritual upliftment. I did it because I was lonely. Growing up in a family that practice strict religion and being about people who did the same, I took it for granted that church and church activities was a main way of meeting people and making friends. I never went out much to bars and partying. I never learned how to make friends in that way and still feel a bit uncomfortable with it.

So, after a few months of not making friends in my new country, I decide that I was desperate enough to go to church. I know, that sounds awful. Forgive me. I've been pretty vocal about some religious dissatisfactions I've had with my church in the past two years. As I drove to church I wondered, was I biting a hand that still has room to feed me? Would I be able to pull church off again, since there is so much I don't agree with? Was it right of me to even do so? I felt a bit like a traitor.

I walked into the first meeting of the block, Relief Society. There were 8 women there. ALL of them were over 80 years old. Two were in wheel chairs. One had an oxygen tank.


Seems like religion is dying out all over Europe, but I don't think the church was ever that alive in Switzerland. I almost laughed as all the eyes bugged out of their heads to see a new, fresh, young church going girl walk into their midsts. I decided that even though I didn't get what I wanted (some young fun women to go to a movie with or something!), that perhaps I could learn something from these wise and sweet Swiss women. I did. They spoke simply of faith and love and in French that I could actually understand. It was refreshing. It was sweet. I liked it. I think I am going to go again next week. They'll probably ask me to give a talk in French, and you know what--I'm a bit excited. I stick to the fact that church just seems better in Europe, away from the pressures and culture of Utah. I like being a member more when I'm over here.

JESUS UPDATE (because every blog post needs a Jesus update at some point or other!): I've not really cared about Jesus the past two years. I don't mean that to sound trite or casual. It's just how it is. I'm not sure if I even label myself a Christian anymore, but lately, just lately, I've felt drawn to reevaluating the teachings of Jesus...but not through a Christian lens. Impossible you might say! But no! These two books have come into my life and are helping me feel the admiration and love and honor for Jesus that I haven't felt in a long time.

RELIGIOUS DISCLAIMER (needed after being so positive about Jesus): Sometimes I worry that when I say something positive about religion that all my actively religious friends are going to say, "Oh, I just knew Stella's testimony of truth was going to come back!" And the truth is, it IS growing and changing and it doesn't really involve organized religion at all. In fact, I still have all my religious issues that I've expressed before. Those haven't changed and probably never will. However, I still think there is something sacred about honoring my roots every once in awhile, not ever being bitter about my religious heritage, and learning where things fit in my life.


Stina said...

For some reason I always seem to find myself in the company of old ladies. Hmm, I think that says something about me and my activities! I did some election poll working in 2008 after I stopped working. Everyone else was a retired old lady and I think they got a kick out of seeing a "young, fresh" girl among their midst! Old/Young Ladies unite!

Stella said...

Ha! Just as long as none of them dies while in my presence, I'll be ok.

Tracey Axnick said...

I love this post, honey.
Religion sucks. ... But God does not.
Extract the meat from the nut..... you know what I'm saying.... leave the vacant, hollow, worthless shell behind and pull out the good, protein filled meat that lays within... you are searching for it, and that's a beautiful thing. You're in the midst of a love story, you know... God is in pursuit of you, and always has been. He's still crazy about you, and always will be...

Much love, my friend.

sammy said...

wow, im a new follower and i can already see that we have similar feelings toward religion, faith, and jesus.

i really want to read the deepak chopra book. truth be told, ive wanted to see what he was about but due to my prior convictions, he and the antichrist were something like blood brothers thus rendering him off limits. being the case, ive never read his books because i still find myself scraping my old beliefs from my insides.

great insight

Newt said...

Hiya Stella... I thought I'd check your blog out too. :) Another non-Christian Jesus one I'd recommend is Living Buddha, Living Christ.

JMH said...

I can't resist the heavy topics.

Growing up, I did all of the Catholic things like I was supposed to, under heavy guilt with reverent silence, but the only time I can remember praying in earnest was during a Bulls/Knicks playoff game in the early 90's. The Bulls were down by one with a few seconds left, and Jordan's shot went in. I guess I'm ungrateful.

Though I haven't been to church, with the exceptions of death and marriage, in probably twelve years, I do love the language of the religion. Stuff like "perpetual light" and "as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end," and "God bless you."

I have a handkerchief.

I don't imagine I'll ever go back. I was never comfortable in that community, well let's be fair, in any community, but I will use the ideas for my own ends. After all, the Holy Spirit is in me.

Michelle said...

You know I love you whatever the hell you chose to believe but if you want some fun young girls to go to movies with, hit me up when you're in town. Miss you!

Stella said...

Tracy. I think your enduring faith is an amazing thing. Thanks for sharing some of that faith energy here!

Stella said...

sammy...I had to scrape lots of old beliefs the past two years. I'll help ease you in. How about I read the book and post a review and then you can go from there.

So glad you stopped by. Can't wait to keep reading that awesome blog of yours!

Stella said...

Hiya Newt! Welcome! I read that one about three years ago during an awesome Buddha phase I went through. I loved it. Thanks for the suggestion and for the visit to my blog! Can't wait to keep reading yours as well.

Stella said...

JMH--I don't know that much about you...but you just made an awesome comment. I love your story about your prayer. And the language! Agreed! Some of the most amazing combinations of words are from glorious prayers said by tortured saints.

It's in you and everyone. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

Stella said...

Michelle--could we pull an all dayer at the movie theater on 3300 south? I have LOTS of movies to make up for!!

Robin said...

Im more of a "spirit connects us all, while religion tears us apart" kind of gal..but I love that you went to that church for that very special reason..that is so lovely..and the fact that you enjoyed it is even more beautiful...that what it is meant to be..well i feel that way....Im really liking your blog..id love to read more now..but i must go to work..Ill be back..!