religious crisis

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Registered: 08-24-2005
religious crisis
37
Tue, 09-11-2012 - 3:27pm

I've been thinking about this post fore months maybe... a little embarrased to put all this feelings in words. I've said many times that I've met sme true friends in this board... so friends, help me out here!

I come from a catholic family. Not strict catholics, but we did go to mass every sunday, and I've always tried to live a Christian life. As a teen and a young adult I was really active in the youth groups, and mi parish was a huge part of my life. but then I got older (past 25) and I felt less and less comfortable with the kids. That was the end of my "involved" years... And I discovered that without that, going to church became kind of boring.

Then I met DH, and although he is also a catholic, he is more of the kind that goes to church only "when he feels like it". wich is probably once a month. So instead of being obvious, now we had to "plan" going to mass and make room for it on the weekend schedule. Then we had kids, and the option is to take them there and suffer the entire time because they are fussy or bored. Or leave them with grandparents... it doesn't sound so complicated, but it is to me. Most of the times it`s easier to just not go.... And since to Catholics, skipping mass is a sin, meaning that you need to go to confession or else you can't take communion.... It's been two years now since the last time I had communion. It's hard to explain, but without it you feel like an outsider in the Mass.

And I feel like I'm drifting apart. Badly. And doubts are taking root in my soul. Sometimes I think that it's like a garden that's not been watered in along time. Other times I think that maybe I was "under the influence" and now I'm seeing things clearer.

Specifically about God's existence, or maybe not his existence, more about whether he really cares about us or not.

Motherhood changed me. Once I knew the fierce love a parent can feel for a child, I just can't believe a loving and omnipotent God would let a parent loose a child. I just can't wrap my mind around it. I remember answering those same questions to those kids I used to teach at the youth groups and saying things about "God's will" and about "man's free will", and I feel like such a liar. Because when it come's down to the naked truth, someone lost a loved one and God didn't stop it...

I want to believe in Him again, I truly do. And maybe this is just a crisis and I'll come out of it with a stronger more mature faith, but right now all I feel is that I'm loosing it.

I know many of you have a strong faith, and maybe others are struggling like me. I'd really like to know your feelings on this. Maybe sharing this with you will help me.

Thanks!

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Registered: 10-15-2001
Tue, 09-11-2012 - 4:35pm

Mari, my heart goes out to you as you sort through these feelings.

It is not fun to doubt something that has been such a big part of your life and your identity. It's hard and painful, but as I once heard someone say, until you seriously question your faith, it isn't YOURS...it is simply what you've been told. Basically, your faith can't be your own until you've done a lot of questioning and come to some answers. Doubting is normal and even good as it pushes you to learn and grow.

It is really hard to look at the terrible things that happen to people--death, loss, natural disasters--and not ask "Where is God?" Today is September 11th, and people in the U.S. and all over the world really demanded to know that very thing when airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in rural PA on 9/11/2001. We ask it when big things happen out in the world, and we ask it in intimate ways when our families are touched by pain. I'm currently reading a book called Desiring God by John Piper, and he talked about this issue in a very interesting way. He paraphrased another man of faith (John Edwards, I think) who said that God can see things through a narrow lens and through a wide-angle lens. Through his narrow lens, He feels the deep, wrenching pain of our hurts and stuggles. He mourns when parents lose a child. His heart aches when one of HIS children goes through chemo or depression or infertility or poverty, but He can also see through the wide-angle lens. He sees the BIG picture. He knows that someone's loss of a job is going to bring her to lean on God instead of depending on her own strength, for example. That's just a simple example. I think some of what God knows is just too big and complicated for us to really understand in this life. From our perspective, it just looks big and bad and scary. And it is! But God understands His own sovereignty while we cannot. We can only have a little human point-of-view, and with just that, we don't really get it. We want things to look good though human eyes instead of God's eyes. He knows how things fit together, and we simply don't.

You know the story of Joseph and the colorful coat? That one really helps me see God's power and His goodness despite the terrible things that happen in this imperfect world. Well, Joseph's own brothers sold him into slavery. Things were really terrible for Joseph. He ended up in prison for a long time. When he was released from prison because he had a knack for explaining dreams for the king, he fell into the king's good graces. He ended up as a very important man in the nation with riches and power. He was a smart guy, and his wits combined with his dream-interpretation skills combined with God's will brought him to make a plan and execute the plan to save thousands of people from starvation from a horrible famine. When Joseph's brothers had to come to Joseph to get food to save themselves, Joseph revealed himself to the very brothers who sold him to slavery. He said in Genesis 20:50 : "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (I had to look that up. :smileyhappy:) Joseph went through a really, really rough time. He probably felt abandoned by God but only because he couldn't see the big picture.

In Romans, we read, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ALL things. Not just the pretty stuff. :smileywink: That one really helps me think through the pain of life. We don't get to really see the "work," but we can have faith and take comfort in knowing that God is not taken by surprise by bad things that happen. He didn't take a day off and miss a tragedy that was coming. He is at work all the time, and His work is always done with love and compassion for his children. We just can't always see it!

I hope this helps you, Mari. It's okay to quesiton and search. Part of the reason that the church is designed as a community is so that we can have support and accountability from fellow believers who love us and can give us encouragement and information. It is understandable that these feelings are coming up for you when you haven't been feeling the community support at church. I know that formal church is certainly NOT the only way to find that community, but it is one good way. I take my kids to church, and I KNOW how hard and draining it is. I definitely have to DELIBERATELY remind myself every week that I am doing this in order to raise my babies (God's little ones) to know a loving God and Christ who can be their rock and their strengh through a very bumpy, scary life. Life is going to throw a lot at them, and I can't imagine facing those trials without an eternal perspective. I want them to know God's beauty and His grace, and the best way I can think to do that is to introduce them to Him, just as I would introduce them to a friend. I know that, ultimately, the decision for or against a Christian faith will be between them and God.

I hope you find the answers and the peace of mind you are looking for, Mari.

Love, Erica

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Registered: 09-14-2008
Tue, 09-11-2012 - 8:18pm
Mari- I am not a catholic. I was raised STRICT Christian. We were at church services 3 times a week or more at times. However I work for a Catholic School and have VERY catholic grandparents and a dad who was raised catholic. I understand the traditions and rules of the faith. I attend Mass every Friday and every Holy Day throughout the year as a part of my job. I love the perspective it gives me and I love the connection I do feel when I am there, but I do feel very odd being on of my 5 people sitting back in their chairs forgoing the communion- when in my home church this is something that we invite ALL to participate in. (In fact I accidently partook at my first school Mass- assuming that it was the same as the communion I took at my Christian church- when in fact they are viewed very differently).

Anywho back to the point at hand- When I started this job my curriosity was spiked- I researched more and more the catholic faith and realized there are a lot of aspects that I felt very comfotable with- however the lack of community for adults was really difficult for me.

Back story being that before I got this job I had only been to church a handful of times a year for the past 4 or 5 years prior. But getting this job- researching this new religion- and learning it wasnt exactly what I was searching for- led me to where I am now. THE SAME PLACE YOUR IN. Questioning what I believe and how I want to raise my daughter who has suddenly become very currious about God and Church (since starting at a Christian preschool in August).

I want to raise her with an understanding of the infinite and wonderous glory that is the Lord- but at the same time I dont want that fear or overwhelming forced feeling that I had. My mom raised us to fear God and I litterally would go to bed at night crying in hopes that I would wake up the next morning because I Knew that day I had been a really rotten kid and sinned a lot and I thought for sure Satan was gonna come and get me in my sleep. (Sounds crazy but that is the level of fear my mother and the church she chose for us put into me and my sister).

I also have a very open minded view of things and I believe that the bible in meant to be interpreted and read in way that makes sense. And so many people twist it to exclude so many different people (or sinners) these days. I love the church and religion that accepts everyone no matter what, believe in that love of God and shows it by being a pillar of love and Godly strength. I love the idea of church groups and friends. I love worship time and its like a reset button for out lives.

All this being said I married my husband who has no interest whatsoever in relgion (and I really didnt when we dated/got married). I want to explore more but feel stuck. I also live in a tiny community and finding a non-judgemental church is hard. So anywho I am in a sort of religious crisis too. I posted this to show you your not alone and give you my side in things. I know I jumped around a lot and rambled but I really hope some things make sense and apply here. ((HUGS)) :-)

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Registered: 08-04-2003
Tue, 09-11-2012 - 10:00pm

Mari, 

I grew up Catholic as well, and as a child we went to church every Sunday year round.  It wasn't typically a family event, my father and grandmother took the older kids and my mom stayed home w/ the younger ones (I come from a big family).  Now that I am a parent I know why.  

When Ray was younger we went to Mass on and off, when I felt the spiritual lead if you will.

DH is also Catholic and also went every Sunday growing up and drifted away as an adult as well.

Then we moved and it came time to find a new parish to call home and a place for Ray to grow in this religious and spirtual education.  I looked at and tried out a number of churches until I found one that fit.  And we love it.  But I'll be honest, during summer vacation we are not good at getting to Mass.  Catholics are terrible at setting up services that are family friendly.  Mass was so much easier when Teddy would sleep through it.  We are lucky in out Parish to have a "Children's Mass" on Sunday morning, which is family friendy and the kids leave to hear the gospels on their own and homily directed to their age group.  But this Mass is only during the school year.  

Over the summer we've kept in touch w/ our religous community through church social events.  I always feel terrible not going to Mass but making it to the monthly supper; and I swear I dodge Monsignor so I don't get the evil eye for not going to chuch.  

But right now I am happy to take what I can get.  I know it will be years before DH and I can sit and enjoy a Mass and feel connected again, but between now and then we are piecing it together.  Some weeks we feel it's better to miss because of Teddy, some weeks I go with both boys alone (and want to rip my hair out), some weeks I go with Ray alone, some weeks I go alone.  Do you get what I am saying here?  And I certainly now when I am missing Mass in my life, I can feel the missing connection.  Prayer and reflecting usually helps with that.  If you are still struggling beyond that, I would suggest talking to your priest or someone else in your church about your feelings.  Being honest is a huge part.

I hope you can find the peace you are looking for.

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Registered: 09-12-2008
Tue, 09-11-2012 - 11:35pm

Mari,

I am so glad you posted this!! I have been going through this sort of "crisis" for oh, about 2-3 years now, and you can probably guess what event happened around that time, lol!

As you know I am Catholic and am now in my 2nd year of being a Catholic school teacher. Growing up, my mom made me go to mass every Sunday and I kept up with it pretty good until really Selin was born. My DH is not Christian and is not real active in his faith so it is a real struggle to get him to come to church with me, even for the big holidays (strangely enough, my Turkish MIL loves going to Christmas mass!)

When Selin was younger, I would take her to mass with me occasionally but now it is just out of the question. She will not sit in the pews for more than 10-15 min. I brought her with to family mass at my old school a few times and it was just so stressful for me and I literally got nothing out of the mass because I was too busy chasing her around.

I technically go to two different parishes, the one in our neighborhood where I am officially registered, and the one in the next town that is more family friendly. The first church has no cry room and doesn't have many young families. The second church has a cry room but the mass schedule doesn't work as well for me so I often get frustrated and end up not going at all. And now that my DH works weekends, he is not always home to watch Selin. I did go a few weeks ago while DH was at a service for Bayram (Turkish/Muslim holiday) and he actually brought Selin with him which was a treat for me to go to mass alone.

I am totally in love with my new school and thoroughly enjoy going to mass with the entire school every Friday. I do feel incredibly guilty that I'm not going regularly on my own on Sundays and hope I can make more of an effort in the near future.

I remember my mom telling me years ago that she went through a similar "crisis" when she was in her 20's/30's and stopped going to mass for awhile. I think we all find different things about mass that call to us. For me it is singing. I just feel so peaceful and relaxed after leaving mass and I really enjoy partaking in the songs. Finding a parish that "fits" you is really important as well. I definitely feel more comfortable at a parish with lots of young families than one with old folks. And like Erica said, I try to see God in everyday stuff to help me feel more connected to my faith.

HUGS!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-15-2001
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 12:57am

These responses are all so great!  I think this time of mothering young children changes us in so many ways.  It's natural that our faith should evolve, too. 

I hope we can all erase the guilty feelings and instead see our faith walk as a chance to worship and reconnect with God, not something to check off of a list!  I'm not Catholic, so my point-of-view is a little bit different.

Mari, I'm glad that you raised these thoughts!  This is a great thread so far.

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Registered: 09-22-2001
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 10:04am
(((hugs))) you are getting so many good responses here!! It's even helping me!

My godfather told me something once. It came at a time when I was about to enter one of the biggest periods of loss in my life - a childhood friend, my godfather shortly after, and a relationship that has defined who I am as a person (I got my son out of the deal!). I had no idea at the time that it would carry me through periods of lacking faith and misunderstanding so well at all.

He told me: "If there was no suffering, how would we grow to understand mercy?"

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 (I've always like that one...)

It is important for you to reflect on the LIFE you want to live in Christ more than the rigorous schedule laid out before you. I know that's got to be difficult as a Catholic, but it might help you reconcile it as a mother. If our faith was never challenged, would it have worth to us?

My father was a minister. He was a wonderful minister. I can honestly say he was a miserable father. My faith was tested every single moment until I realized that I couldn't base it on the experience of other people or the expectations of anyone BUT GOD. And I couldn't rely on my parents to model that for me - they just wanted rules and good church attendance. I have found more joy and peace in the Lord since I have just started plowing through my Bible and seeking God's Will directly from the source. It doesn't take the hurts of the world away, but it eases the nagging in my soul.

I hope you find peace, Mari. I know you haven't lost your faith - if you had, you wouldn't be questioning it!

Jules - Happily married and Momma to DS, DD and expecting our Caboose Baby 11/24/2012


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Registered: 08-24-2005
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 11:04am

Wow girls, I'm so glad I finally posted this! I never expected to get this kind of support, and to know that so many feel similar things!!

Erica, I loved what you said about God's "lenses". And sometimes I truly feel like I understand it. But others... like in Joseph's story. I keep thinking how his suffering was part of God's bigger plan to save an entire nation. But I also keep thinking about what Jacob and Rachel (was she still alive?) must have felt getting Joseph's bloody coat.... It must have ripped their hearts apart. So in that sense I tend to think that maybe God is more of a General (or strategist if you will) than a loving Father, KWIM? Other times I think that maybe pain and suffering are just part of life and that God's miracle is to help you survive those things, but that he can't (or won't) intervene.... And yet I feel He has blessed me in so many ways in my life that I can't believe he doesn't "care".

Oh! Don't worry about not being catholic. I still feel we are on the same page. I am a firm believer in ecumenism. And honestly, I feel closer to your way of viewing God than some hard line catholics I've met.

Mandy- I'm sorry you had to grow up dealing with so much fear. I've met lots of strict catholics who share a similar way to view God and sin, and it always creates a lot of damage in a young kid's mind.

 

The Mass dilemma- I see I'm definitely not alone in this!

My old parish had a cry room, (although it had an ancient carpet and I would NOT let my kids play there, LOL!). The ones near where I live don't have that, and it's hard. Also this is a smaller town, so there are fewer parishes, and each one has fewer masses scheduled. Not to mention the lack of priests, I mean, it's hard to find one that isn't narrow minded or who tends to "dumb things down". So it's really hard to find one that fits. But ultimately I know if I really wanted to go I would find a way.

Also, I think it would really help if DH was also commited to attending Mass. I read some of the posts to him yesterday and we had a serious conversation about our faith... I think maybe this will help us discuss all this in depth. I think we need it as a couple.

Christine- The singing... Oh boy! That's another thing, as part of the youth groups, I was part of the choir in the other church. And I enjoyed Mass so much when I was singing! Some songs were real prayers to me, and it helped me focus through the "dryer" parts of the Mass (you know, the part after the homily and before communion, when my mind tends to fly away :smileyhappy:). When a church has nice music and good songs it makes a world of difference.

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Registered: 12-04-2007
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 7:40am
Mari- This will probably be random and rambly, but I don't have a lot of time to gather my thoughts before David wakes up from his nap...

I think you know, but I am an evangelical christian. I was raised this way, went through a period of doubting and questions in my teens, and then made my faith my own in my early 20's and have been seeking God and learning and growing in him since that time.

First, it's really tough about mass. Would you ever consider going to a non-catholic church? Just for this time when your kids are small? I only ask because (and maybe this is different there) but every protestant church I've ever been to has a nursery and sunday school for children, so you can bring them with you and still enjoy the service. I'm assuming you probably wouldn't want to do that, but if you're feeling a need for fellowship/worship etc. that you don't feel you can get at regular mass right now, it's might be something to consider.

Then about God. I think God is so much bigger and so much more complicated that we can understand. I like Erica's illustration about the lenses. I think it also helps if we can kind of try to think about things from an eternal perspective a little bit more. The way I think about it, God is much more concerned with our eternal being and our eternal lives then this short time we spend on earth. So while it seems cruel to allow a mother to have a child and then lose that child, maybe God knows that that experience is the only thing that will turn that parent to him. Or maybe God knows that child would have had a life of suffering if they had lived. I'm explaining it poorly, but maybe you can sort of see what I mean.

God loves all of us deeply. But imagine your children were on different sports teams playing in a match, you love them both deeply and want them both to win, but that's not an option, and even it were, you can't step in and control the game, there are lots of players and they have to make their own choices about how to play, and that all effects the game. And at the end of the day, one of your children will be overjoyed over a win, and the other heartbroken over a loss. I think it's a little that way for God. I think he loves us deeply, and he blesses us and gives us good things that we ask for, but at the same time, we live in a sinful world, and he allows sinners to exist, and gives them free will, and sometimes they hurt us and others. Sickness and disease exist, and sometimes God has mercy and heals us, but that isn't always the best thing in the big eternal plan, so he doesn't always. It's all so complicated. All that being said I think at the end of the day, what God wants is a relationship with you, and your job in all of this is to seek him, and to try to know and understand him more and more.

Did that make any sense? Sorry for being so all over the place, I just have so many thoughts about it, and it's hard to sort them all out. And I hear David waking up... I'll keep an eye on this thread and try to come back on it if I have any more (more coherent) thoughts about it. Like others have said, I think it's good to question, it means your seeking the truth, and that is good, and right.
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Thu, 09-13-2012 - 11:44am
I've been thinking about this post for days, and I'm sure I won't be nearly as eloquent as other posters.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, worked for the girls' camp sponsored by our state association for four summers, was involved in everything I could be. In college, I struggled. Either the churches were too liberal (personally, I'm not a fan of women as preachers), or were so small and conservative that I was uncomfortable (ie, you go to Hell if you don't use the correct Bible translation). Sean came from the latter type, so if we wanted to go, I would just tag along to wherever he felt comfortable.

Then we got married. And I got depressed. And then he worked nights. Then I was pregnant and too tired. And the excuses continued. My parents marriage fell apart. When talking to my dad one day, he was telling me about the new church he was going to (he was kicked out of the one I grew up in for having an affair with another church member but refusing to acknowledge that it was wrong; he was her Sunday School teacher). He pulled it up on a website and found one with the same basic theology in our town.

Sean and I gave Missio a try. It's non-denominational, completely non-traditional, and one of the most scripturally in-depth churches I have ever been to. Sure, we have full bands, but all the songs teach theology. We meet in small groups weekly to discuss the sermons more deeply. Kids have their own programs to go to, but we all come together for family worship. We're open to the homeless population in town.

To me, it took finding the right place to eventually come back around to the "church" mindset. I was struggling with the Whys, especially after being so let down by my dad. It took finding a place where I felt like I fit in, even if it wasn't what I grew up with, to really make me dig deep. And you know, if it hadn't been for what my dad did, I wouldn't have found my fit. God really can use the negatives.
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Thu, 09-13-2012 - 3:46pm

I have been thinking about your post however with the turn of events with my work life today it even has more of an impact. If you didn't see my post above ( i don't remember who exactly commented) I found out today that my position at work is being eliminated.

Anyway I was raised in a Catholic family but I never really felt any close connection to God. I mean I went to church every week but that was about it. Until last February. Not sure if they have this where you are but they have a retreat here called Christ Renews His Parish. It did wonders for my spiritual life. I also connected with my retreat sisters. We are now planning the next retreat since ours ended for next January. Those women have been such a support group for my husband and myself. And when one of my sisters lost her husband last month at the age of 50, we were all there and several of us attended the wake and funeral.  It has really brought me back to God and where I am in my religion. If it wasn't for this I probably would think the world is ending right now knowing I'm losing my job and my husband's job we're not totally sure about what is going on. However, I know that God would not give me anything that he can't handle. I've seen several of my sisters go through a lot tougher times and I feel like I've had it fairly easy.

As far as taking your child to church, David is finally starting to behave. However my husband and I both sing in the choir and he loves the singing. The rest of the time I give him crayons and he colors most of the Mass. I really don't have any suggestions for you. All of a sudden David started behaving in church. Of cours we started bribing him that he would get donuts after Mass. Our church has donuts after church so if he's good he gets one. And the last I'd say 4-5 months he's been great. Ever since his vocabulary started to explode and he understood more he has been a lot better. He's still 2.5 and sometimes has a hard time sitting still but I bring all kind of things for him to be occupied and it normally does the trick. Now next year when the baby arrives he will be almost 3.5 so hopefully by then he'll be good all the time. At least that is my hope.

At our parish they have a thing for kids but it doesn't start until age 4 through 2nd grade which is during the sermon. I sometimes wish they had it for younger kids. At the parish I grew up with they had a pre school religion which I helped teach and that started at age 3.

I don't know if I answered your questions but I hope I shared some of what I am feeling right now in my religion. It's kind of ironic we waited awhile for this pregnancy so it would be at a perfect time and right after I found out I was pregnant there was my husband's job and now my job so I've realized there is no perfect time . I kind of wish we would have realized this several years ago maybe I wouldn't be almost 37 and having my second baby as I wish I still was a few years younger, but what is in the past is in the past.

 

David Nicholas 12/5/09
Expecting a GIRL 3/23/13

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