Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Reluctant Sanctuary

I was raised in the Catholic Church. Today I wonder what that means? We attended Sunday school and church almost every Sunday. I memorized prayers, learned about the sacraments, knelt on my knees and preferred to sit in the balcony during a crowded service.

I disliked going to confession greatly, cried during my first communion and felt ashamed to receive communion after my divorce (I am not worthy for I have sinned). It all felt like a bunch of RULES to me, but I also knew it meant community and a safe place to go.

Contrary to my perception, I could see that for my parents it was something all together different. But yet it was within a sub-culture of our Catholic church that my parents participated the most and were most fulfilled, it appeared. They had their prayer groups and attended weekend retreats. At the time I didn't realize it, but now I can see the divide between religion and spirituality, yet they are linked together respectfully.

After leaving home I married somebody Catholic, so my religion routine pretty much stayed the same. We attended his church, which was much smaller, friendlier and more fun. After my divorce to my first husband, I disconnected from religion and the bought and borrowed beliefs of what a good Catholic girl should do.

I remarried, in a Baptist church, but had our first daughter baptized in the Catholic church. Moved to Minnesota. Had our son who we didn't have baptized. This last little fact weighs on my mother, which reminds me of the RULES that get ingrained in your mind. Do I really think my son would be condemned to hell if he were to pass today? No!, but the Catholic guilt still lingers inside.

Since moving to Minnesota, 10 years ago, my children and I have been members of a Catholic, Methodist and Lutheran church since. My husband rarely attends. We are now well settled into the Lutheran church and my 13 year old daughter Paige is attending confirmation classes. She is required to write sermon notes, which means we must attend church.


As I reflect on my spirituality and my religion I try to understand why "church" has been my reluctant sanctuary. I believe partially because my upbringing in the Catholic church made it feel like an obligation, a test, a set of rules, which were all outside forces.

But ironically enough it is the obligation of fulfilling my daughters requirement of sermon notes that I am drawn back to the sanctuary of a church, for which am I grateful.

Obligation or not, as I have learned that, God, spirit, the greater power (call it what you want) is not out there, but rather WITHIN me, going to my reluctant sanctuary truly fuels me. This is what my parents knew, so why didn't they just teach me this? They did teach me. It just has taken me many years to be in a place of understanding.

Everyone has their time and everyone has their reluctant sanctuary. Maybe we are lazy, selfish or maybe we don't love ourselves enough. We are worth it, so everyone, go to your reluctant sanctuary (whether that be church, 10 minutes of quiet tim or quality time with your family) and claim your well deserved fuel.


Just Me... said...

Growing up, the only time I ever went to church was when I would spend the night at a friend's house and their household would head to church on Sunday morning. I couldn't understand the draw, felt wildly out of place, and felt like I must be a sinner (even though I really didn't know what that even meant)that I didn't go to church.

Fast forward 25 years... now, like you, I feel God within me! Its a wonderful feeling... I know God, I see his work and marvel at it and I trust in Him and do my best to serve Him... I did not learn these things from going to church. My reluctant sanctuary is a traveling show mixed with reading my own Bible, watching my fellow Michigander Rv. Robert Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral, and learning more about the power of God through my own son. My 5 year old goes to a private, Christian school where he has Bible everyday and it is as important to his schoolwork as math or phonics... he knows God and has an incredible relationship with him already at age 5. Its beautiful to witness him talk to others about God with a big, powerful smile and spread the Good Word! AT 5 years old!

As an adult I have met several adults that proclaim to be so 'Christian' and attend all church events and the fellowship within their church and community is a large part of their lives. Some of those people really need church, if you know what I mean. They might put in the time, but the moment they cross the door, they are gossiping, judging others, condemning, and frankly are being pretty bad Christians.

I no longer consider myself a bad Christian because I don't attend a weekly church service and I don't enjoy the fellowship of a congregation. I know God. I trust in God and try to do my best by Him each day... I think thats all that any of us can do..

Gosh, the longest post in the history of the blogging world!

Sorry Kim!

Dancing B.A.G. Lady said...

Beatifully put Casey. THANKS for sharing.

Gabrielle said...

For me, it's simply a heart condition. My relationship is with God and not the building or doctrine. If my heart is right then we can do all things according to God! Wonderful post!

cindy said...

Interesting post. I was brought up in a "Roman Catholic" church, of rules and regulations, and being told that you were a sinner, and remembering having to "cover" our heads with some doily like thing to go into the church. I remember confession, and even as a youngster, though to myself, "why do I have to confess to this man, if God is everywhere?"
Anyway, today I consider myself a Christian, and although I teeter-toter in and out of the church, I have a strong faith, and beliefs.

Chic Gal said...

I too was brought up with these "rules" and obligations to attend church every Sunday, sit on the front row as still as a mouse and except communion. (as well as understand it's meaning). I truly believe that this is not the place for me now or for my own children. I don't have to be in a building, fearing the priest, to have God in my life.

Just Me... said...

Just checking in on the comments from this great post-