Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My relationship with God is complicated

My relationship with God is complicated. Or simple, depending on how you look at it.

Although it’s been a while since I’ve been to church, I talk to God every day. Some days, I talk to God all day long

If God is truly present everywhere and at all times, then based on that logic, I don’t need a church or an appointment to talk to Him.

Am I done with formal religion? I don’t know.

What I do know is that my life, in its current status, is not welcomed in my church. I’m breaking a sacrament. I’m considered somewhat of a “giver upper.”

The last time I went to church, the sermon almost brought me to tears. It was my first time attending since the separation and I went alone. 

With my lip quivering, I listened to the scolding lecture. I braced myself as each word smacked me square in the face. It was as if the sermon was written exclusively for me and because of me.     

Leaving your marriage is wrong.  

Breaking up the family unit is wrong.

If you give up on your marriage, you give up on God.

I went to church looking for strength and left feeling as if I had failed as a wife, as a mother and as a Christian. It was a theological punch to the gut.  

Despite the rules of my religion, I know God loves me. And He’s been there during the deepest, darkest moments of my life. 

He was there in 1996 when I had my first seizure. He was there in 2001 when the epidural sent me into cardiac arrest; then later that night when my body hemorrhaged from the emergency C-section. And He was there in 2010 when the doctor said the tests were negative for cancer.

So it’s been a very personal relationship, this thing between me and God. One-on-one sessions, kind of like therapy, but free!

Unlike the not-so-free therapy, our sessions take place wherever and whenever I need Him. In my car, as I sit in my big chair or in the back patio.

His voice and presence is unmistakable during the most tumultuous times. The days that find me balled up on the bathroom floor, crying and praying for the strength to make it through another day is when I feel God’s love the most. 

Without fail, He extends his hand to me and I take it.

These days, our sessions rarely take place in a cathedral-like building adorned with beautiful paintings and saints. Yes, it’s a beautiful church. Yes, it’s a beautiful religion. But my relationship with God is so much more than that.

My relationship with God can’t be contained inside this church or that church. And it can’t be restrained within the rules of this religion or that religion.

To be clear, it’s not my intention to use this space as a forum to debate religion. You can take that somewhere else. This is merely a self-reflection at the highest level about my own spirituality and discovery on this new journey. 

So I ask myself again: Am I really done with religion? I don’t know. 

But this I know: I’m not done with God and He’s not done with me.


  1. I love this. LOVE.

    You are speaking my heart.

    I miss church, though. The rituals. The ceremony. The community and the smells.

    It is my ongoing struggle.

    It is so interesting that you write this, because it has been front and center in my mind the past few weeks.

    So, thank you. For making me feel human, normal. :)

  2. Amen.

    Seriously. I completely agree with everything you say here. Great post! Thanks so much for letting me know about it!

    (We SO have to meet one day!)

  3. This is so beautiful and so truthful.

    When I was married to my ex husband, he was deeply involved with the Promise Keeper's group... a deeply devout group of men who held each other accountable to 'God and Family'. I was a dutiful Christian wife and felt such a sense of respect and awe when I attended church and listened to my husband speak at our Couple's Bible Study group meetings. But when I found out that my ex husbands actions did not match his words, it caused a traumatic break not only in my marriage and understanding of how a "good" family worked, but it also undermined my relationship with my church. Like you, I found myself suddenly on 'the other side' of the congregation. I heard things... just like you did in sermons, and would scratch my head and wonder how such beautiful thoughts and words that were found in the bible could become so confusing and twisted.

    I still love God. I never didn't love God. I think my personal relationship is even stronger after going through what I did, because I stopped blindly listening to what other people told me or preached, and decided to listen to my heart.

    Because that is where I beleive God resides.

    I'm so glad to read this, thank you!

  4. Such a hard thing to talk about, for many of us. And that phrase - "personal relationship with God" - isn't that the most important?

    Wishing you peace.

  5. Church should be for the broken, which as I understand the New Testament, pretty much covers us all. I'm sorry for your experience, but I applaud your faith. The Church may have you on the outside looking in, but Jesus does not. He's been with you the whole time. You are human and normal and not alone!

  6. Beautiful post. Organized religion should not define your relationship with God or force you to stay in a miserable marriage based on a black-and-white construct that marriage is good and divorce is bad. I think you're questioning and grappling are part of faith--faith is not the same thing as blind, unquestioning compliance.

  7. A sermon like that would have sent me running for the hills. I have issues with people who decide to use religion to judge if I'm a good person or not without knowing me or my situation.

    Thankfully, I only have one friend who threw that sort of stuff in my face when I made the decision to leave my cheating, lying husband. I flat out told her, "You can't work on a marriage all by yourself. He's not interested in staying or keeping to our why should I torture myself by keeping up this farce?" Let's just say that she's no longer my friend anymore...

  8. From the bottom of my heart, thanks to each and every one of you for your beautiful comments. I know I've been silent since I posted this, but I'm literally taking in all of your feedback. I've also opened up a dialogue with friends and family. This is something you just didn't talk about and you certainly didn't question.

    Sending you all much love and peace...

  9. I finally had a moment to read this and I'm so glad. Like you, I prefer to see and feel God in the every day miracles that come my way. The sugar snap peas somehow KNOWING where the stake is to begin climbing, my house expanding to hold more people and no one will lose out, my relationship being stronger than the hate that would break it apart, my kids laughing and giving me grief in a good way...those are all signs that something is at work whether I go to church or not. As a side note, I do really like my church and it's been a very accepting place for me. But I know that's not true for everyone!!

    Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

  10. I know where you're coming from. Trust me. The G-Man and I have an interesting relationship. He knows that I dig him and that I think most churches are filled with pompous douchbahgs who would rather people see them appearing to be a good person rather than actually being one. Sorry if this was long. This was your blog post, not mine.

    P.S. The G-Man and his son J-Dawg probably think most people in church are pompous douchenags. I can't prove it, but as the Black Eyed Peas said, "I gotta feeling..."

  11. Jennifer: Your description of how you see and feel God is beautiful.

    J.R.: Not too long at all. I appreciate you sharing and I know what you mean... I gotta feeling, too.