Yesterday I realized most of my experience and understanding of God has been through the lens of fear. Fear of going to hell, fear of punishment, fear of guilt and shame. I wonder how many people live their entire lives that way, let alone push their beliefs on their loved ones for the same reason.
I think fear keeps a lot of people going to church, making their kids go to church, and hoping/”praying” their efforts will essentially control a positive outcome – which is what our lives are all about, right? Ultimately, we want to be able to control our circumstances. I realized every time I pray for something to happen (as opposed to other kinds of prayers), it originates from the desire to actually be God. In other words, the goal is to control a situation or outcome of circumstances, usually positively, for myself or others.
Obviously, I do not want to pass down that legacy to my children. I also do not want to give them any preconceived notions about what to believe. I would much rather them come to their own conclusions about their faith when they can understand the consequences of their beliefs than push my own onto them.
I prayed every day for my Mom to get better when she had cancer. I cried myself to sleep every night for a year, being angry at God yet somehow also blaming myself. The declining health of my mother, now 20+ years later, is what makes me continue to question everything I was taught about God.
I only came to this realization after not going to church for the last five years. After seeing many people I once looked up to abandon their faith completely, I have felt some anxiety about “what comes next” after my own deconstruction. Will I eventually go back to church? Will I stop believing in God completely? But now I’ve realized I don’t need to fear anything that is not in my control, nor do I need to try to control it. My journey through deconstruction isn’t going to look like anyone else’s, and I don’t need to worry about what comes after it.
Sometimes I wonder what churches/religion would look like if people spent their time actually doing what they claim to believe; like loving their enemies and caring for the poor instead of judging them. To me, it seems like Jesus and other religious teachers were more concerned with what we do (and how we do it) than what we proclaim or tell others to believe.