That bumpy spiritual road

Let me preface the following paragraphs by saying this – I’m not just writing this to share my thoughts out into the faceless, endless black hole of the internet.  I would love comments/thoughts on this topic.  I’m inquiring because I’m truly, honestly curious and I want to have a real discussion (not a debate or argument) on this topic.

I’ve made no secret of my spiritual challenges on this blog.  I’ve moved around and I’ve left churches and I’ve explored others, and at the end of the day, I end up right where I was when I started – frustrated and confused.  Over the past few months, I’ve been too worked up and busy with the move and my role at work to really focus on thing of the spiritual nature, but it’s the holiday season now and things are slowing down.  I can breathe again, and I can think about things besides bus tables and traffic patterns and all those other things that dictate my life out here now.  Naturally, as we finally get “settled” here, we want to find a home church.  It’s important to us, not only for worship but for the community it fosters and that we so desperately need in a region where we have no family and only a few friends.

First, some facts I can deduce from my Christian journey so far:

  • I like educated pastors.  My childhood pastor was anything but, and as an educated adult, I have a real problem entrusting you to teach and lead me if everything you think you know about biblical history and interpretation was discovered by being self-taught.  Nope. No thanks. That doesn’t work for me.
  • I was a Roman Catholic for four years, and I still miss that church so much. For several years, I was a very happy Catholic, but then the constant, droning pro-life message drained me because a reproductively-challenged woman is not spiritually fed by a church that is laser-focused on anti-abortion movements at the expense of all other parts of Christian life. I would be willing to consider returning, but Hubby has made it clear that he will not go back.
  • I was a very happy member of the United Methodist Church, but only a specific one. My church in Indianapolis is a true gift from God.  There’s no church like it in the world.  And that’s precisely the problem, there is no other church like it in the world.  I’ve been to other UMC churches and left feeling drained and empty.  My church was unique and I haven’t seen the same passion from other UMCs I’ve attended.
  • I’m open to denominations and worship styles as long as they are Christian. I can give up a lot, but I’m kinda planning on sticking with Christ.
  • I’ve explored the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I think their church is beautiful. Their leadership is incredible and I absolutely enjoy General Conference. Hate to miss it, actually.  That being said, there are theological beliefs, specifically around the nature of Jesus and God, that I absolutely cannot get past, which makes any further exploration a moot point.
  • I love Anabaptist spirituality, but the Mennonite churches around here are few and far between.  I did find a Brethren church not too far away…
  • I don’t want to just go to church – I want the kind of sustaining interactions with a faith community that infuse my everyday life. Basically, I’m not living the way I want to live and I have to fix it.
  • I don’t believe that there is one “true” sect of Christianity and everything else is false. Catholics love to lay claim to that and that’s fine if they want to believe that, but to say that the other truly gifted pastors that I’ve met throughout my life aren’t going to Heaven because they aren’t practicing Catholics is, in my estimation, crazy talk. I’ve also met Catholic priests that I wouldn’t trust farther than I could throw, so…

Additionally, this past Sunday, we attended a predominantly African-American Baptist church. I found out about it online and watched some of the sermons on YouTube and was really impressed by the pastor.  Tim is used to being the minority when we go to mostly-white churches, so it was nice to see the tables turned for once.  The music was gorgeous and the minister was fiery and interesting.  He’s an activist pastor focused on social justice.  I love the hope in his message, which was about the recent grand jury decisions of not indicting white officers who have killed unarmed black men. As a white woman married to a black man, this topic is a focus of discussion in our home. Discussions on social justice are a part of the fabric of our marriage, and the inequalities that I’ve seen my husband subjected to solely based on the pigmentation of his skin are real. My worried for him, even as a law-abiding black man, are real.  Afterward, we had a “debrief” of the service, and we both agreed we loved it.  Tim’s concerns were that he doesn’t want to go from Catholic to Methodist to Baptist. He wants to attend but not apply labels to his religious affiliation right now.  I’m cool with that, but I’m also afraid that we’ll end up in the same position as we were as Catholics – at a church with a laser focus on one part of life. I know this pastor is passionate, and for good reason, but we have to wait and see if he’s got focus on other things, too.

So I think that’s where I am.  I, for lack of a better word, lost.  So this is where the conversation piece comes in – where are you on your spiritual journey and how did you get there?  If you don’t have a church home, why not? How were you raised versus what you believe now? Tell me about your faith life, share your blog with me if you need to.  If you know someone who you think would have something to share, send them a link to this entry. Enlighten me! Engage with me!  I don’t want to say that I’m begging, but… well… I kinda am!


7 thoughts on “That bumpy spiritual road

  1. I’m so glad I decided to check out your blog! I hear and feel your frustration. I’d like to tell you about my faith in God and my church where I express my love and faith. Did you say you live in Indianapolis? Have you tried out a Free Methodist Church? This is my church. It’s an evangelical church. It actually was Methodist over a hundred years ago but left because of some issues like slavery, the selling of pews, the lack of freedom of Spirit, and some others. A very good friend of mine is a pastor of John Wesley Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis. If you’d like more info. please contact me.

    • I’ve actually read a lot about the Free Methodists. I love Wesleyan spirituality. I actually really like to study all the different branches of Christianity because it’s fascinating to me how people interpret the same Bible passage in 20 different ways!

  2. I’ve always been Methodist (so I feel a little like a traitor saying this) but my wife is Quaker and she has been blessed by her coming to understand that. The key principles of Quaker belief are sometimes represented by the acronym SPICE–for Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality. You might consider seeing if there is a meeting (the Quaker word for church gathering) near you if your current church doesn’t work out or you can’t find a Methodist church that works.

    I definitely understand what you’re going through. We were very happy members of a Methodist church in Florida before moving to the farm in Virginia. Here we’ve struggled to find a church where we’re comfortable. Right now we’re loosely affiliated with a interdenominational intentional community in the inner city of our nearby town. We love and admire their work and values, but we can never be fully part of the community because we don’t live in it.

    Good luck on your journey.

    • Oooh Quaker – I hadn’t thought about that in a while. That’s a fantastic suggestion! I’m going to go look them up. I found a Mennonite community that was closer than the others, and then I discovered that they’re beard-wearing head-covering Mennonites, which, despite how much I admire that lifestyle, is just not for me. We’re continuing to look. I’m hoping we can settle on something. As it stands now, I’ll be going to Midnight Mass like I always do and we’ll continue to look for a church home. It’s really such a struggle, and it frustrates me that it has to be that way. 😦

  3. Rachel, I feel strongly that every person ought to explore and discover which spiritual path is best for them. As a child I attended an Anglican church but was not satisfied with the answers to my questions as an adult and so I explored many churches and religions. After many years of “questing” for the truth, I settled comfortably into a spiritual path which I continue to this day. I am a spiritualist with no ties to a church, though I studied The Path of Service program with the White Eagle Lodge in Texas (by correspondence with a mentor who happened to be Jewish!).I am fond of the Eastern philosophies and embrace a vegetarian lifestyle.I do not promote or follow any religious order or church, rather I look for a spiritual connection in every person, regardless of their cultural race or religion.

    Keep on searching and one day you will find your “home”.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We just went through something similar and found ourselves in a Quaker church which is a much more comfortable setting for us. Depending on the style of Quaker church, it can be very informal and comfortable, or some are a bit more structured. Not sure if you’d like it or even have one nearby, but we’ve felt so content and at peace after this discovery. Wishing you a positive journey.

    • Thank you for the kind words! I’ve been meaning to post an update but I have an injured finger so it’s a struggle to type. We did end up finding the most amazing, tiny church – AND it’s a “cousin” to your church because it’s another one of the “Peace Churches.” We’re now attending and loving a Church of the Brethren church. It feels like “home.”

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