Losing My Religion

Once upon a time there was a girl who went to church with her family and gladly accepted the message she heard as a child.  Tragedy struck at an early age when her mother died.  This young girl found a purpose in God and her church in her teens.  She faithfully attended church (3+ services a week), she went to every outreach & youth camp, travelled on multiple mission trips, sung in the choir, taught the children, volunteered in the office, and only had friends that were Christians.  She did all this because she was told she should do as much for God as possible to please Him.  She was told that she was created solely to serve God so that is what she did.  Yet, even while doing all this she didn’t feel accepted and pleasing to God.  Yet more tragedy struck when she was 18.  She lost an aunt, an infant cousin, a grandmother, and a grandfather – all before she turned 20.  This woman was me.  Questions swirled in my head and the pain crushed my heart and my hopes. 

“God knows what He is doing.”  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  “Everything happens for a reason.”  People’s well meaning words haunted me, angered me, and made me wonder why I even tried to please God at all.  I felt less pleasing to Him and more frustrated all the time.  

Then, in my early twenties, I quit an amazing job and uprooted my life to go to Bible College thinking this would please God and make me feel worthy of His love.  But all I found there was more messages from people that I wasn’t good enough…I needed to do more.  What I thought would make me closer to God only made me feel farther away.  I longed for acceptance and love of any kind.

Finally, exhausted from years of ‘trying to please God’ but never feeling like I could ever be good enough….I walked away from it all.  Christians would say I ‘backslid’ but I ran away really.  Trying to please a God that seemed impossible to please had me frustrated, angry, hurt, and confused.  It was just easier to stop trying altogether.  I searched for ways to find acceptance and what I found still left me feeling empty inside. 

After years of ignoring church & God (because frankly the church and He seemed far too demanding and quite impossible to please), I finally decided that there was no God. I chose to believe life and earth came from spontaneous evolution, the Bible was a man-made book, and tried to comfort myself in believing He was just made up by people to control other people.  It was an oddly peaceful, yet numb, time in my life.  

But God kept tugging at my heart.  One day, I heard this quote and something deep in me resounded with it:  

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”  Thomas Jefferson

I heard in my heart, “I’m a big God.  I can handle your questions.”  I had always been told you don’t question God.  To question Him showed no faith and was a sin.  But this quote kept playing in my heart and I decided that if He was real He would probably prefer me to ask Him than just make my own presumptions. 

I did ask Him.  I started asking many questions that had plagued my heart and mind for decades ever since my mother’s death.  

I tell you all this to say to you that God isn’t afraid of your questions.  He is a big God that isn’t easily offended by honest questions.  Accusations are not questions though and He isn’t obligated to answer accusations from the limited understanding of humans. 

However, He is a loving God that has promised to answer our questions and assures us that we will find what we seek.   I encourage you today.  Ask Him questions and then read the Bible as His personal love letter to you.  Keep your heart open to the still small voice in your heart that assures you and points you to Jesus.  God will always point you to Jesus and Jesus will always point you to the Father. 
My journey back to God began by losing my religion.  My journey to knowing Him has been an adventure and has shown me that religion makes a relationship with God all about your performance.  Jesus assures you that a relationship with God is all about what He did on a cross 2000 years ago.  God seeks a relationship with you.  Feel free to lose your religion and find Him.  Let Him answer your questions and show you His true character.  It’s an amazing ride.
Hope you’ll join the journey with me,
Heather
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