Monday, December 08, 2008

Spiritually Stuck

Posted by Anonymous.


I hate going to church. I hate it.

If I only had to go on Sunday I could manage to trod along but it’s not just Sundays. For example, by the end of this week I will have had church related commitments, either for me or one of my children, everyday for the past 9 days. 9 freaking days of meetings or activities that my kids needed to attend or lessons I have had to teach, on at least half of those days there was more than one thing that needed to be done.

If it were only the time commitment I could probably manage, even though it’s gotten to be a huge time commitment, but I am sick of feeling like even when I’m dragging myself and my family uphill against the wind to make it to everything I am still being judged. It’s as if I am surrounded my people who want to tell me if I could just give a “little more” I would be almost good enough. Almost. And there are couple of women especially, that I feel like if I have to have many more conversations with them I am going to pull my hair out. All of it, and I have thick hair, it could take a while. The problem is I work closely with at least one of these women so, yeah, I’m going to be having many more conversations with her, all the while I am screaming inside.

The worst part is that even if I had to attend something EVERYDAY with women who need to take hormone shots if I believed in it I think I could do it, but that’s the thing, I don’t think I believe it. I feel spiritually dead, and I can’t tell anyone. If my husband knew that I felt like this he would be devastated. He would start with an exorcism and move on from there. He was raised religious and I was not. I have tried to be what he wants, at times I have been pretty good at it, but for the last year it has been getting harder and harder for me. Our religion is everything to him. I’m afraid to say anything, it’s not just a Sunday thing, it’s a lifestyle (an often time sucking, guilt inducing, demanding lifestyle) and our kids have been raised this way and like I said there are commitments and expectations.

I hate it and I’m stuck. I know I’m stuck because the consequences of me dropping out would be too great. I love my husband and my kids too much to quit something that is so much a part of our (their) lifestyle. I’m mad and sad because I feel like I have no alternative but to keep pretending. I feel like I have sacrificed my life on the proverbial alter and there is not one person in my life that I can talk to about this, I can’t think of anyone I know who would understand. They would either tell me to pray harder to keep Satan at bay or those on the other end would never understand why I feel like I have to keep faking it.

It feels cowardly to post this here, but if I don’t get it out, even just this little bit, I feel like I am going to explode, or worse, shut down. I just keep wondering if I can keep this up forever.


21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can feel your pain. My husband has been in ministry for the past 10 years. He was forced to resign from his job back in Aug. Frankly I am glad. I no longer have to put on a happy face and be at church every time the doors are open. I am relieved that I don't have to pretend to have it all together.

I love the Lord and I love to serve Him. I am just so glad that I can now serve Him on my own terms, not the expectation of church members.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I feel you. I was raised a certain religion that is very much a lifestyle. I went to the religious college, the whole nine yards. I tried talking myself into believing it because I thought my life would be easier if I could just play along. Turns out I was giving myself ulcers from the stress of pretending. I left the church, and there were some bumps in the road, but people got over it. I was surprised at the amount of people that felt the same way I did. Anyways, it was a long road out, but now I feel so free. I feel like me, and I didn't even know what me felt like.

I wish you the best of luck.

Kazaa said...

Wow. I once was a closeted non-believer. I was lucky enough to find a partner with the same beliefs before I ended up in the situation you describe. My mother wanted to hold "meetings" to help free me from the devil...but she eventually gave up when I had support that I was not a crazy person - I just didn't share her beliefs. I feel free. But you're in a more complicated situation. There are kids involved. And when they're asked to pick sides, it gets ugly. I wish you all the best. I truly do.

Marie said...

I understand exactly how you feel. My X spouse and I live the exact same situation with a few differences.

He was not raised in church and I was. I was so battared from extreme religious views that I was not expecting that in my adult life. He got into it as well and it was the same as before for me. I was constantly made to satisfy his needs by being the church wife that he wanted and needed.

I became more cold in my own spirituality. Not knowing where my faith was.

We divorced and now I feel that I am so far away from any kind of relationship with God that I am a little scared.

I wish that I would have put my foot down at some point so that I would have not become so hardened.

I sometimes miss the true relationship that I once had with God but then i wonder if I ever had a personal one to begin with. See, I'm a little messed up.

Your faith is not a "fake it till you make it" case.

I see the same war within my son. I wan't his love for God to be true and not forced so I am constantly trying to sheild him from the extreme veiws of his father.

CageQueen said...

Dude, it def should not be that way and I understand where you're coming from. There is nothign worse thanbeing judged by the very people who should be the least judgemental.

Going to church should be something that is done out of desire, not because you're forced. Being pressured that way breeds resentment and defeats the purpose.

I will pray for God to lighten your load....in all ways. :)

Anonymous said...

I feel awful for you. My heart aches for you. Having been raised to be a born-agin Christian, I finally admitted to myself when I was in my early 20s that I didn't believe in a god or an afterlife. Since then, I have been so much happier and felt so free, making the best of every day that I have. That was nearly ten years ago. Some people close to me still don't know because I haven't found it necessary to discuss it - and because I dread the drama and proselytizing that will ensue.

But our situations are so different - I didn't have kids, and my husband, who had been raised the same way as me, was questioning his beliefs around the same time.

We each have to find our own truths, and our own spiritual beliefs or lack thereof. I wish you peace in your heart as you continue to figure out where your heart lies, and even moreso as you figure out how to make it work with the incredibly complicated family and churh dynamics of your life. I wish I could help.

Anonymous said...

I grew up as an about average religious catholic. Went to church many Sundays. I even went to a religious university. I tried going to mass, but gave it up after about 5 weeks. Then I met a girl that shared my beliefs. We don't necessarily not believe in God, but we aren't going to live by some church's rules as I believe most churches are not honest with their members. I am totally content on not going to church and don't make my children go. When they are older they can make the decision for themselves.

Anonymous said...

You need to tell you husband. It may hurt him, but he needs to know. You sound used up and burned out, and that is not the way a church should make you feel. If serving and worshipping feels like an obligation, it's not the right place for you to do it. It sounds like you need to take a step back and give yourself a break for a while.

God does not expect us to serve and socialize and occupy all of our time being busy. He wants a quiet, one-on-one relationship with us. Maybe you could tell your husband you just need to search for that for a time. I wish the best for you. It's not easy to live up to others' expectations.

All Things BD said...

Ditto to Anonymous at 10:48am. You should tell your husband. He may be hurt and distraught, but if he's grown up with religion, he should know that God is okay with questions and doubts and fears.

Seems you need to take a break and figure out what you really believe and want from the church.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I could have written this post. For real. I haven't been to our church since May. And I have been a very active member ever since I can remember. Our religion is very much a life style as well and I just can't figure out where I am with everything. *sigh* It's very complicated. In some ways I feel much better and like a burden has been lifted. But, in some ways I feel shame and guilt too. My husband is not happy with me, but he isn't pressuring me either and I am grateful for that. And my kids are confused.

Please keep us posted and I hope you can find that happy medium. I am still trying to figure out how I feel about everything and find a good balance.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I hear ya! I've not been to church for quite a while too. Luckily my husband agrees with how I feel.

You've gotta ask your husband what's more important...your relationship with God or the obligations at your church. If he thinks they're tied together...ask him how. And how did humanity and religion survive for centuries and centuries without these said obligations. And if these things are SO important...perhaps he should do them for a couple weeks and then see how he feels then.

I'm sorry you're in this situation. "Religion" should not do this to people.

Spirit said...

I would talk to your husband, but maybe not come at it from an all or nothing perspective. My husband and I have different beliefs, and a one-year-old, and so far we've been able to make it work. But we're jsut getting started in the big picture, and it may not work as well later.

But maybe you could talk to your husband about feeling... overwhelmed. Perhaps you could suggest cutting back on a one or two church-related activities. Going to church services and being involved in the community can be more about doing something as a family than because you believe in the doctrines supported.

My husband is Catholic and I'm Pagan, and I still struggle every week with being the one person who doesn't take communion. I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't "convert" just to make it easier on our family. But that wouldn't be being true to myself, and pretending to be something I'm not wouldn't do any of us any good.

Including you. Good luck with this, and Godspeed (however s/he may present him/herself to you).

If you would like to discuss matters of a spiritual nature, I have recently developed a blog for that purpose. I do talk quite a bit about Pagan customs, since that is what I know, but I welcome religious discussion of any kind, so long as it's open-minded and friendly.

Anonymous said...

As many other people have said I think you need to talk to your husband. Explain that you're tired and you can't handle the time load.

I always said that I didn't need a Church to pray to God, God was everywhere and he always knew when I was talking to him. Church was just the place I proved it to everyone else.

Heather said...

Not being a believer myself I do find it difficult to understand anything even basic about religion. It all seems like one big scary cult to me. With one big scary god telling me who why and what I should be doing. It's not like I don't naturally have morals.

One thing I do know is that you can not live a lie. It will create resenment towards yourself, your husband, and your children. You NEED to tell your husband. You are sacrificing happiness in basically the only life you have.

I agree with ALL THINGS BD. Your husband should understand that his god is okay with questions, doubts and fears (or at least they say he should...I know it doesn't always ring true.)

My grandparents, married for over 60years lived together quite happily with different views on religion. I might add, there were some very interesting conversations at our dinner table during the holidays.

I think whether your views on religion are very strict or not, it is important to learn and discuss other religions. You could very well use this argument when discussing your children and your feelings about religion with your husband.

I mean, how scary would it be if one of your children felt the same way you do. Think about how they could resent you. Would your husband love them any less if they chose not to believe?

You are living a lie, and whether you decided to speak out or not, apparently god would understand.

Tammy said...

Be true to yourself.

Gina said...

It's so hard to be strong when the whole congregation has their eye on you week in and week out.

I will echo the "talk to your husband" advice, but I know how difficult that might be. This may end up breaking some precious covenants you've both made in your choice faith. In any case, those covenants are important to your husband and on some level (maybe) they are important to you too.

You want to do your best, but you have spread yourself too thin. Maybe in another season of your life you could do more, but for now you need a break to prevent a real breakdown.

The past two years I've declined roles in my church because I can't handle more than working full time and getting dinner on the table. I assure myself that I'll get to a point later where I can do more. But for now, this is what I can do and as long as I pray and have a testimony of Christ in my heart, it's going to be okay.

Email me if you need further support admingina@gmail.com

Pretty Lady said...

This is the opposite of 'spiritually stuck'; this is a holy moment. God is speaking to you right now. Listen to what the other commenters are saying. There is much, much more to spirituality than bowing down to excessive obligations imposed by your church, your family, and other church members. Tell the truth to your husband. Take care of yourself, or you will be unable to take care of anyone.

Rachelle Mee-Chapman said...

Dear Soulsister,

This is not a dark night of the soul, this is transformational stuff. I know it's terrifying, I know, I KNOW. But girlfriend, it is time to JUMP!

There are women, lots and lots of women, who are going through this with you and who have been through this before you. It's a stormy sea, but it can be navigated and help is at hand.

Here are some maps:

Sue Monk Kidd's "Dance of the Dissedent Daughter."

Barbara Taylor Brown "Leaving Church."

And, if I may be so bold, these two posts over at my place, which will be good companionship for your journey.

http://www.magpie-girl.com/20081112/introduction-sea-change/

http://www.magpie-girl.com/20081113/chapter-one-the-itch/

Don't hang in there -- gather your bravery. It's time for change. You can do it -- listen to your Muse, she'll guide you well.

Yours in the Journey,

Rachelle (Magpie Girl)

Ami said...

Perhaps you are so busy "serving" that your physical body is unable to feel a spiritual connection. Traveling, working, using all your energy dealing with people you do not like is sapping your strength to the point that there is not enough left to feel anything but tired. Instead of teaching or working attend a class for YOU, where someone will serve YOU. Then maybe you can feel again and recharge your spiritual batteries. If there are no classes that interest you or are available for you, there are tons of books. So use the time you would normally be working to study and improve YOUR life. Let your husband know that you're not "leaving" but rather you need to change your focus from serving to being served for at least a while. Pulling back some can make the rest easier. It sounds to me that believing in God is something you would like to do but you have no energy for it. So instead of scrapping everything get rid of some of the drama.

jess said...

I'm so sorry that you're in this place. I grew up in the church and I can relate.

I don't know what to tell you except: The establishment of "the church" is not God and does not always speak for God, although they will often claim that this is the case and try to make you feel like a traitor if you don't go along. You may have to stand up to this and separate God from all the crap that comes with being a "good Christian/wife/church leader" and find Him on your own terms.

I hope that you find peace. I'd be happy to be in touch if you want someone to unload on. :) jess.ca.dav at gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you just need to tell your husband that you need to do less at the church in order to keep yourself sane.