Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I Stopped Going to Church

This is a first and only draft.  It might be shallow or disjointed or whatever.

Here's how I feel:

I just finished running five miles.  The last two times I've gone to the gym to run, sesame street has been on and I watch it.  It's nice.

I am writing this for a few reasons:
1) When I posted the "going back to church" post on facebook a little bit ago, I had a few people talk to me about church and ask why I had even left in the first place.  I thought I'd centralize the whole thing and make it a little easier.
2) I feel inspired to do so.  This is for anyone who has ever felt the same as I did.

Throughout my whole life, I have struggled with church.  I'm a little rough around the edges, you know?  I'm a little wily and the absolute "sin = eternal damnation" thing just... it just doesn't sit well with me.  It doesn't jive in my heart and I can't believe that a God who loves us would base so much of our eternity on a timed test where we can't remember the answers or how we even got to the test in the first place.  You know what I'm saying?  All I'm saying is that I have always, always, always struggled with the idea of eternal damnation.

But I overcame that; after some rough-and-tumble teenage/young adult years, I over came my doubts and obstacles and I got myself on a mission.  The mission was wonderful.  I worked hard for two years, I baptized a ton of people and I was happy.  I read my journal entries of that time period and I remember how happy I was in that time.  There really is something about serving the Lord on a 24 hour basis that can light a fire inside you. 

As I prepared to come home from my mission, i was stoked.  I was ready to come home, get a job, go to college and get married.  Isn't that what all missionaries want?  Those three things are on every missionaries mind.  "Who will she be?" and "I wonder where I will work and if I will make a lot of money?".  Getting ready to come home is an exciting time, but that's not what I came home to.  I came home to getting dumped on, over and over and over and over.  I'll spare you the details, but I can tell you this much: I've lost more faith in and tolerated more hurt from people I trust most than I am even capable of expressing.  Every time I would stand back up, something else would come and knock me down.  Over and over and over and over and over and over. Since 2007(That's 7 years for all those that aren't fantastic with math).

And in February, 2014, after a handful of failed relationships and lost money and blah blah blah, I quit.  I decided that God wasn't there.  He wasn't there for three reasons:  1) Because he wasn't answering my prayers (knock and it shall be given?  more like "knock and I'll make sure everything you love is taken away. but you can keep your bartending job."); 2) he wasn't there because I didn't feel anything; 3) he wasn't there because it didn't logically make sense for him to be.
And if he was there, he must hate me.  Or, I was going to get up to heaven and he would have tears in his eyes from laughing because my entire existence had been a practical joke.

Anyway, I stopped going to church and made it a point to play video games instead.  For a time, I was fine with it.  I thought things like "if God really does exist, he is going to have to make peace with me, because I'm not going back."  and other crazy prideful things like that.

It's weird, because summer is like, my time.  It's my favorite time and nothing can get between me and happiness and the sun. But as time wore on, I found myself in a deeper and deeper hole. A kind of despair that I did not attribute at all to church, whatsoever. 

All I know is this:  The way I was thinking and feeling when I gave up the church was very self centered. To say "I pray and I ask for things and you tell me no so I'm not even going to talk to you anymore" is a very ego-centric, bratty, and childish way to act. (oxford comma)
Even in the way that I have been treating people and friends.  I don't go out, I don't maintain friendships; if we are friends it's because you have made an effort to stay in my life.  Not the other way around and that's unacceptable.  (full disclosure: I just tried to spell 'unacceptable' as 'unexceptable'.  Eat your heart out, Julie Wilding). Getting down and feeling lonely is a very easy thing when you are only concerned with yourself and not thinking of anyone else.  In fact, it lends itself to loneliness.
What's more, how can I expect to feel ANYTHING, when I'm so busy wallowing in my own self pity?  How can prayers be answered through the spirit if I'm too busy being sad about something trivial or stupid in my life?  I don't know and I don't believe that they can.

I don't know how religion or God works, I don't need to understand how it works.  It doesn't matter how it all works. I can't tell you why my car starts when I turn the key, why should I expect to be able to explain religion or God? (thank you Andrew Robertson). 
I know that without God in my life, I become an egotistical, self-centered asshole who only cares about himself and his xbox 1.  And whether or not that's a cause or an effect, I don't know.  But I believe that they are linked.

 I also believe that God exists.  I believe Jesus Christ is our savior.  I believe that we are a lot better off and that forgiveness is a lot more easily acquired than we tell ourselves.  I believe that through living the teachings of the gospel, our lives here can be better.  Like, A LOT better.
I believe that regardless of our circumstances here on earth, if we open up and become a servant for others and try to do good, we can and will find happiness. 

Starting today, I'm going to be better guys.  I feel alive and ready for more. I love you all. Thanks for reading.