Making it up as you go along and being ok with that

(17 Posts)
KayHarker Fri 18-Jan-13 13:15:49

I come from a very religious life, very patriarchal and prescriptive fundamentlism. I have recently, after much soul searching, abandoned that, but still find in myself a need to acknowledge the awesome greatness of the universe. I still pray - not exactly sure who to, but more for myself as much as anything. I appreciate all religious traditions and see worth in different religious and traditional stories, and indeed in non-religious myth making. I'm kind of making it up as I go along and I'm gradually coming to terms with that. Does anyone else identify?

Sounds like you have been on a bit of a journey and need some time to stop and rest awhile. There is nothing that says that the faith journey needs to be a forced march and maybe stopping and smelling the flowers and appreciating the good in creation is what you need right now.

MostlyLovingLurchers Fri 18-Jan-13 19:01:34

I think it as absolutely ok to make it up as you go along. Life is a journey, and as we learn and discover new stuff we should be open to changing and challenging the person that we thought we were. It doesn't mean you're inconsistent or noncomittal, simply that you are being honest with yourself. The more you open yourself up to learning about other faiths and traditions the more likely you are to find something that resonates with you, rather than settling for the beliefs you acquired through family and cultural circumstances. It may be that none fit and you have to walk an individual path, which can be hard (without the support of a church or like-minded community) but is a very honest way of being. Hope that makes some sort of sense!

KayHarker Fri 18-Jan-13 21:18:46

Thanks for your replies. I'm finding moving from traditional Christian Evangelical fundamentalism really quite scary.

marceline Fri 18-Jan-13 21:26:08

I'm on a very similar journey Kay. I too grew up in a very traditional evangelical family and never quite felt like I fitted in. I think you might say for the past 10 years I've been deconstructing a lot of what I'd learned, questioning and reevaluating my beliefs and values. I am still a Christian. But not in the way my family or most evangelical churches would understand the word. And yes, there's a lot of stuff I'm not quite sure about but that's ok.much better than thinking you have all the answers!

marceline Fri 18-Jan-13 21:31:50

Oh, just a thought, don't know if you've ever heard of a writer called Brian McLaren but you may find his work very interesting.

KayHarker Fri 18-Jan-13 21:34:15

I 've heard of McCalren - mostly by people telling me he's a heretic. I think I shall seacrh him out.

marceline Fri 18-Jan-13 22:02:36

Wow, really? Well, he definitely thinks outside the Evangelical box but doesn't sound like you're too keen on that box either. For me finding his books was a huge revelation. You know that moment when you find your own thoughts framed more clearly and eloquently than you've ever managed to do it in your head.

KayHarker Sat 19-Jan-13 10:06:02

out of the box is right - I'm treated like a bit of an idiot at church like I am too stupid to just 'get' it. I feel very much like I've recently just woken up.

I've found Brian McLaren really helpful. He is one of the many Christian writers who fall into the general grouping of post evangelical. I found a writer called Alan Jamieson 'Chrysalis; Faith in an Emerging Culture' really good on the emotions and questions that arise when moving from a more boundaried type of faith which is often but not always conservative evangelical, into a more questioning faith. He uses the image of the caterpillar which then turns into the chysalis, which is the hard and confusing bit, before becoming the butterly.

EllieArroway Sat 19-Jan-13 12:22:33

I'm probably not the right person to comment - I'm a very black-and-white "there is no God, the universe can be explained scientifically type", but I can identify with that "not getting it" feeling.

Like most people in this country I grew up surrounded by religion, both Catholic & CofE and I just never managed to buy into any of it, even when I was very young. When I got to my late teens and a few of my friends were practising Christians I remember a strong sense of "What am I missing here?" Why do these intelligent, rational people believe something so strongly that makes absolutely no sense to me.

It wasn't until I started reading up about things that I thought that, actually, I hadn't missed anything - they had. Strong beliefs really don't make sense - they are contradictory, ask more questions than they answer and don't fit with the reality of the universe we exist in.

I think the only responsibility we have to ourselves is to keep thinking, keep reading, keep learning until we find something that makes sense to us personally, never mind what anyone else thinks.

There's no right or wrong when you come right down to it, since none of us actually knows the answers - so you're not "making it up as you go along" any more than anyone else is. You're just expressing freedom of thought which is not possible when you're tied in with strong evangelical beliefs.

Congratulations on "waking up" It's a good thing, truly smile

marceline Sat 19-Jan-13 12:28:04

I have not read Alan Jamieson but I definitely feel more at home in the 'emerging conversation'. I think the most difficult thing when you reach this place is to find a community to share it with. I have not attended church for several years now as I find it alienating and frustrating. So what you're experiencing sounds very familiar Kay. My only spiritual community outlet for the past few years has been the wonderful Greenbelt festival where I truly feel at home but unfortunately it only happens once a year.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sat 19-Jan-13 12:40:19

Yes, yes, yes. You should absolutely make it up as you along, so to speak. Make your own decisions, find things out for yourself. The whole problem with organised religion, especially the fundamental sort (but all of them in general really) is that they teach you to take their word for it. You can't challenge ideas, you can't question the authority. That's not a healthy way to live.

You can absolutely believe in whatever you want, that's your choice. Just make sure you're not only believing it because someone else told you to. Good luck!

MadHairDay Sat 19-Jan-13 13:33:31

I've also found Brian McLaren's stuff resonating a lot with me, along with Rob Bell, and the sort of post evangelical new monasticisim writings of people like Shane Claiborne. I'm probably a bit of an oddity in that I still identify as charismatic evangelical (definitely NOT conservative though grin ) but also think along these lines - I like to think that I can recapture the true meanings of these words and lift them out of the more stifling patriarchal oppression they have come to be associated with.

I can see it must be painful and difficult for you - I find the whole fundamentalist patriarchal thing particularly difficult to get along with, it makes me very, very uncomfortable. All I'd say is don't necessarily throw the baby out with the bathwater - that underneath some of the more toxic stuff you experienced there may be some beautiful truth (deeply hidden, but still!) - I agree with thegreenheart - it sounds like this is a good time to step back, get to know yourself anew, appreciate the beauty around you, and see where that brings you to smile

KayHarker Sat 19-Jan-13 15:36:02

Thanks for taking the time to respond everyone. I feel very isolated right now, so it's great to be 'heard'. I'm familiar with all the names you mention MHD but only as heretics to be avoided. I shall be raiding my Amazon piggy bank!

bootsycollins Sat 19-Jan-13 15:46:12

We're all just passing through, just love and be loved, be a good person, don't sweat the little things, appreciate and be grateful what you have and don't feed negativity like jealousy and hate. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and do what's right, have compassion and try not to judge. All sounds very lentil weavery but hey it's true!.

Hiya. I think you're right when you say that you have "woken up" - and you have to understand that, scary as you find it, the other members of your church will also find it scary to accept that you might actually have a valid point, so they feel they have to dismiss your ideas. It's a big problem with the more prescriptive denominations - they teach you that there is only one right way, and that they know exactly what it is. As soon as you question one little bit of that, it's like picking at that loose thread on your sleeve - you may not have meant to unravel the whole lot, but it is all so interconnected that you can't just pull at one little loose thread without the whole thing coming apart around you.

For now, you are sitting there with a lot of wool piled up around you, wondering how you ever thought it was ever a jumper.

You need to spend as long as you want, deciding what (if anything) you want to reuse of it. You may not end up with anything like what you started from. But if you believe there is a God (or something) then you can take time exploring that idea and working out where you want to go with it.

I think most of us are making it up as we go along, because faith is about relationship and journey, not a set of rules and certainties. It's a bigger world than you were used to, and that's scary. But it's better than being caged by other people's ideas of what you are supposed to be.

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