That was Then, This is Now
This is my newest little phrase from therapy that I am thinking about a lot.
In CJ I had accepted a lot of things as being “the way things are.”
I will digress and tell of today’s activity and thoughts as an illustration.
I went to church again today. It was disappointing.
I think that most churches are just a gathering of people, and those people try to live and work together in a way that follows the teachings of Jesus. If I were to commit to going regularly to one, I am sure I would get to know the people, find friends among them, and join in with the activities. Even though I reason logically about this, my heart cannot settle on picking one. The only thing “wrong” with today’s church was that it was dastardly cold. It’s a big old church with very high ceilings. Really beautiful, but not heated in any way that I could feel. No one took their coats off, and they have warm afghans across the back pew you can pick up to snuggle in for the service. That in itself would be enough to put me off. I suffered really freezing weather outside when I was in CJ’s Band – so much so that I don’t ever want to be cold again.
The cold aside, I ask myself why it is that I have this ongoing conflict. Why do I think I want to go to church, and yet no church I go to feels “right”? I have to question my desire to go to church. What is it that I am looking for – or from a different angle – what is driving me?
When I ask these questions, the answers are ones that are hard for me to admit to. The truth is that I don’t know where I stand with the Christian faith. Saying that conjures up the image and feelings from CJ. Anyone who left was talked about as having left their faith. They had left God and turned their back on the faith. So I have left, and I want to prove to myself that I have not turned my back on God. The only context for that, which I know of from experience, is to go to church, to be part of a Christian group. And yet that is not working for me.
Part of me feels I should be free to explore my own spirituality without the Christian framework. Another part of me feels guilty about that, and scared. Do I dare to be free of Christianity? Do I dare to admit that I don’t know what I am? The teachings of Jesus are good. But the church that has grown up around his teachings bothers me. At least the one I lived in does. I don’t know enough yet about the rest of Christianity to have a solid opinion. I have a lot of learning still to do. I am on the path. My first class in Intro to Theology was awesome and I have a list of books to read. But I digress…
If I don’t go to church, can I still be a Christian? Ah ha – there you have it. That is the crux of the matter. If I don’t go to church, can I still be a Christian? The obvious answer is yes, of course I can. Anyone who follows Jesus is a Christian. That is my logical brain. The deeper grooves of the conditioning from CJ say that I cannot be a Christian unless I am part of a church, and I am only a lukewarm one if I am in any place other than The Community of Jesus, Inc., Orleans, MA.
That was Then, This is Now. When I was a part of CJ, I believed as they do, I thought as they do, I acted as they do, and I judged other people as they do. Now that I am grown up and on my own, away from the destructive Totalism of CJ, I can find my true self and act accordingly. I can put away the practices of the cult, and find a different way. That was Then, This is now, and my Now is for me to discover.
Hallelujah and Merry Christmas!