Can I ask, what does god and religion mean to you...?

(51 Posts)
babysaurus Fri 29-Mar-13 22:53:56

I apologise in advance if this has been asked 1000 times, this is my first proper foray into this section.

I am finding myself thinking about God quite a lot recently, which is bizarre as previously I had no interest at all. If I think about it too much I feel skeptical in many ways, but I still want to explore and learn more, to an almost overwhelming degree sometimes although u don't quite know why. Weird!

So, for those of you who do believe, what does it mean to you and why...? And has it been a part of you since you were tiny, or more recent...?

Thanks in advance!

babysaurus Fri 29-Mar-13 22:55:32

"Althought I don't know why" not u - typo! ( also I wouldn't use abbreviations as I can't bear them but that's another matter entirely!)

Cuddledup Sat 30-Mar-13 08:36:44

For me it simply means peace.
I can't think of anything more than that, I'm glad it's in my life and I'm glad I've chosen this path. I'm v pleased not to be an atheist. IN times of trouble and distress it's nice to pass the problem up! (IYKWIM!)
If you want a easy to read book about seeking God / Religion - try Rabbi Lionel Blue's book "The Godseekers Guide" it's funny, informative and entertaining. As he says in the book " I went into religion because I had problems. I stayed with it because it worked". The reviews on Amazon give you a good idea about what the book is like.

www.amazon.co.uk/Godseekers-Guide-Lionel-Blue/dp/1847064183

HolofernesesHead Sat 30-Mar-13 10:39:33

I love Lionel Blue.

Religion for me means love and the source of all love, and the story of love which for me is the story of Jesus.

I've been pondering this question this week, actually, as it's Holy Week, and for me, it really is all about Jesus. I don't think I'd be even remotely interested in religion if it weren't for Jesus. And all those threads which weigh the merits and evils of religion - they are valid, but for me, it's not that I've weighed the pros and cons of religion ad decided that the merits just about outweigh the evils, so I'm in - it's more that I am utterly drawn to the person of Jesus as God become human, and that overrides everything. Maybe love always overrides everything. Deep thoughts for a Holy Saturday!

stressedHEmum Sat 30-Mar-13 11:32:21

Peace, Strength and Love.

That is what God in Christ means to me. I have had a difficult life - abuse, rape, eating disorders, mental health problems, an adulterous first husband, an abusive, alcoholic, drug addicted second husband, poverty, children with ASD, chronic illness... you name it. My life has been a bit like a soap opera. The only thing that has got me through it all in one piece is faith and knowing that God is always with me, helping me and strengthening me. The absolute belief that God will not allow me to go through anything that I cannot endure with His help keeps me sane and able to cope.

I also think a lot about the love of God, whose heart was broken and whose body was emptied for me and for all of us on the cross. Could I endure that kind of pain? I don't think so. Could I see my son suffer like that? No. The sacrifice of Jesus moves me to tears and overwhelms me. How could I not lvoe a God who is prepared to go to such lengths for me?

babysaurus Sat 30-Mar-13 15:10:26

Thanks for the replies. They make sense, I think, to me!
Shall look up that book this eve when DS is in bed (and re read your answers while I can concentrate properly!)

thegreatestMadHairDayinhistory Sat 30-Mar-13 17:43:36

I can't better what Holo and stressed have said, and agree with Holo that it's the person of Jesus that pulls me in. Religion I could do quite happily without, and see all the evils done in the name of it. Without Jesus there wouldn't be anything for me, I don't think. He encompasses all that God is - compassion, justice, equality, outrageous and radical love. It's Jesus that I believe changed history and is at the centre of it. His life, ministry, death and resurrection - all about God's overwhelming love in the face of people's rejection.

For me God means everything, in the face of difficult circumstances of chronic disease that's just getting worse over the years. I cannot comprehend facing this without the peace and purpose God gives to me.

I would recommend an Alpha or Christianity Explored course if you can find one nearby - there are other courses too which have slightly different emphases but all with a common goal of giving a chance for discussion about faith, for presenting what Christians believe and for listening to one another. You may find something like this helps you think things through a little more.

marjproops Sat 30-Mar-13 17:57:42

Im with stressedHEmum. same kind of story for me.

And Ive never heard of that book, must try it.

Ive been a devout Chritian 23 years now, many ups and downs, but still hanging on.

knowing when I die I know where Im going.(I always wonder those who dont believe, whwre they think their loved ones go when they die?)

I struggle a LOT with my faith but i wont leave God...where can i hide from His prescence, where can I flee from his spirit'?

can i also suggest the authors Adrian Plass and Jeff Lucas? theyve written a number of books (a couple collaborated on) and they are just brilliant, very humerous but say it like it is too.

Bless you, OP and happy easter. [bunsmile]

wish there was an emoticon of a cross!

marjproops Sat 30-Mar-13 17:59:35

And yy its not about religion, for all the reasons the other posters have said.

babysaurus Sat 30-Mar-13 19:03:25

I think I agree, it's not religion as such I am feeling slightly drawn to. Frankly, I have very little time for it as I think it has been so twisted and so many horrific things are done in its name (all major religions seem to.) Its good to hear the thoughts of those who have a similar view.

I am still very ignorant in many ways about stuff but am getting into exploring different avenues and perspectives. Thank you!

PollyEthelEileen Sat 30-Mar-13 19:21:11

God in my living, there in my breathing
God in my waking, God in my sleeping
God in my resting, there in my working
God in my thinking, God in my speaking

Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything

God in my hoping, there in my dreaming
God in my watching, God in my waiting
God in my laughing, there in my weeping
God in my hurting, God in my healing

Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything

Christ in me, Christ in me
Christ in me, the hope of glory
You are everything

Christ in me, Christ in me
Christ in me, the hope of glory
Be my everything

Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything

God in my hoping, there in my dreaming
God in my watching, God in my waiting
God in my laughing, there in my weeping
God in my hurting, God in my healing

Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything

Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything
Be my everything, be my everything

Christ in me, Christ in me
Christ in me, the hope of glory
You are everything

You are everything, You are everything
You are everything, You are everything
Jesus, everything, Jesus, everything
Jesus, everything, Jesus everything

Read more: TIM HUGHES - EVERYTHING LYRICS

babysaurus Sat 30-Mar-13 22:16:22

There is an Alpha course near me in September. Looking at the website, it looks appealing - no pressure, short talk, more thought provoking than anything else by the looks of it, which suits me fine!

I am still weirded out as to how and why I started to feel like this. Perhaps it's linked to the arrival of DS (now ten months). Previously, and I still do if I properly think about it, I didn't have any interest in religion as such, it simply caused non stop awful things due to the manipulation of it. Add to that, I still can't get my head around why dreadful things happen to good people, or children, if there is a God. I also am not quite sure how you can believe in things like God creating the world etc when, really, Darwin makes FAR more sense!
I think I am also, though, wondering if God doesn't have to mean anything specific if you don't want it to. It can be your own take, and what it means to you...?

Am still getting my head around it!

greencolorpack Sat 30-Mar-13 22:22:01

Hi Babysaurus, perhaps this is the still small voice of God.

You would be doing yourself a great favour to explore this and to figure out what you think or believe. I would recommend finding a local church that has some life in it and find someone to ask about what it all means. I know this sounds intimidating. Perhaps ask a Christian friend for advice.

I have been a Christian since I was 19 so a long time ago. What does it mean to me? It means not having any fear of anything in my life or death or what comes after death. I remember a great feeling of uneasiness that lifted when I became a Christian and a huge sense of joy that I was doing the right thing, acknowledging my Maker finally after ignoring him for a very long time.

greencolorpack Sat 30-Mar-13 22:25:20

Babysaurus, it's a false dichotomy to Think that Darwins theories go against the Bible. They only go against a very fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible which you don't have to go long with. Christians in my old church believed that God made the world. Maybe he made it and evolution was a part of it. Maybe not. Either way, God made the world. The stories in Genesis were written three thousand years ago for a wandering tribe to give them a sense of who this God was who led them into the wilderness, it's the story of "why." not "how" the Earth came about. You can't read a three thousand year old book and expect it to be a modern science textbook, its just not. Take the Bible for what it is, the inspired word of God and go on being curious about the scientitific worlds take n how we came about.

joanofarchitrave Sat 30-Mar-13 22:27:23

religion means a great deal to me - community, altruism, ceremony, structures to challenge us to try to be selfless, the rule of law, social roles for different kinds of people living different lives.

God I find it very difficult to believe in and haven't managed to do so for some years now.

marjproops Sat 30-Mar-13 22:32:26

Op, just dont feel pressured by anyone, Christian or otherwise, you follow your heart.

In your own time, and whatever/whoever you feel in your heart to ''follow'' you'll know it's right. you'll know. you'll just know.

and some churches (i speak from experience ) can be a bit 'in your face' and 'join the club, ours is right', and that put me off for a long time.

i eventually found a church fellowship that was sincere, welcoming, and eased me in gently!

i think I read somewhere darwin was a Christian?

(just one little pedant though....and i read this somewhere....if we've evolved/descended from apes,....why are there still apes?!?)

marriedinwhiteagain Sat 30-Mar-13 22:34:59

I was taken to church as a child and went to Brownies, etc., and was generally sceptical and not quite sure but never certainly sure He wasn't there.

In my teens I saw a picture of the Turin Shroud and I "saw" Jesus and have often thought of that in recent times and especially yesterday when I read the new Pope's comments.

In my early 20s I went to Notre Dame and felt a palpable presence.

At my wedding I was reeling from the unexpected spirituality of the vows and the blessing of the rings - there was a presence.

After that I just reached out and went back and became a part of my local church and its community and practice discipleship and try to see some love in everything and ask "what would Jesus do"?

I can't put my finger on it; I'm not theologically very knowledgeable. But I know, for me, He's there in some way be it real or metaphorical - or should that be metaphysical (maybe Mrs Malaprop strikes); part of my psyche, part of my reality and part of something I need very much and which I believe is good and peaceful, loving and gracious.

EricBloodaxe Sat 30-Mar-13 22:35:44

I like the idea that it means peace - I think that's very true. Mostly I think I'm not a very good Christian but I do know that my belief, whatever it is and however I express it, has brought me peace and comfort when I have faced all the most difficult times in my life. I also like that I am passing something on to my dc which adds a different dimension to the material world we live in.

babysaurus Sat 30-Mar-13 23:02:03

I'm clearly showing my ignorance with the Darwin comment! I was trying to think of the things people often come up with when trying to dismiss the concept of God and / or religion.

Thank you all so much for your replies, they are proving brilliant food for thought. I shall be back once I've sorted out this hungry baby!

greencolorpack Sat 30-Mar-13 23:08:24

No problem. I don't think you are "ignorant", it's just you might not have had cause to think about this sort of thing before. Which is fair dos.

babysaurus Sat 30-Mar-13 23:52:51

smile

Right, am back!

A bit of background; I went to a CofE junior school briefly before moving abroad so never did RE or particularly churchy activities. The brief experience I do have (one year at secondary school before I left for uni) consisted of listening, my case, someone drone on about things which seemed neither interesting or relevant. As I have got older, religion (not God, religion) was or is something I dislike due to the endless problems it causes and probably always will cause. It baffles me how someone could, for example, inflict pain and misery in the name if their religion and justify it because they are 'right.' 'Its all stories, nobody actually knows as its proven but its used as an excuse for all kinds if shit, well if so leave me out!'
However, I am not sure yet what us drawing me but something seems to be changing with my perceptions and I want to investigate that.
Two years ago my best best friend died of cancer and I remember wishing I believed in God and him going into somewhere better etc but I couldn't. I also thought at the time how lovely it would be to have a belief as comfort (rather than getting drunk and crying my eyes out) but I couldn't make myself warm to the idea properly, not even enough to rustle up a tiny bit of interest. I am interested now though! I cannot suddenly see myself morphing into a evangelical Christian but I feel now as if perhaps there may be much more to this God malarkey than I initially may have thought.

EricBloodaxe I thought what you said about another dimension to pass onto your DC was beautiful.

Tuo Sun 31-Mar-13 03:36:58

Hello babysaurus. Happy Easter smile

I don't know if I'm going to manage to write anything that makes any sense here... it's stupidly late, but I've been desperately trying to finish some work before I go on holiday (on Monday) and now of course I don't feel sleepy - which doesn't mean that I am necessarily going to be coherent!

I grew up going to church, went to a CofE school, and was confirmed in the CofE as a teenager. However, the model of Christianity I had in my family was very much in the 'go on Sunday; forget it for the rest of the week' mould... I can't say it was a huge part of my life, though it was a part. As I got older I moved away from my faith more and more. It never disappeared completely, I don't think, but it was well buried, and I defined myself as 'agnostic' for the best part of 30 years. A bit in the way that you describe feeling now, I always felt that I wanted to believe, but just couldn't make that 'leap of faith'. I did try, half-heartedly, to find a local church that I liked, but that didn't really work out either, so I just sort of stayed in my agnostic rut, confirmed in that by my DH who's a fairly vehement atheist. I found my way back to God a few years ago, when I lived abroad for a few months (without DH who stayed back in the UK for work reasons), and took that opportunity to find a church that I liked and to start going regularly.

I made a conscious decision to use that time abroad as a sort of 'trial period' when, instead of saying 'I'd like to believe, but...', I'd just sort of 'go with the flow' and see how it felt to just leave off the 'but' for a little while. I was fully prepared for the 'but' to keep coming back and for me to remain unconvinced, but in fact the opposite happened. I found a good church where I was happy, and it all just felt 'right'. It didn't happen overnight, of course, but the 'buts' started to go away, and I started to feel able to pray, and I quite quickly got to the point where I knew that I wasn't going back to my old fence-sitting ways. I got very lucky in finding a church where I felt 'right' also back in the UK, and I am still there now, quite involved, and very happy.

I'd like to disagree a little bit with some of the people on here, in that I do think that 'religion' is important, and not only God. I don't mean, obviously (I hope), that I agree with all the bad things that have been done in history, and continue to be done, in the name of religion, nor that I accept unquestioningly everything that I am told by those in authority in my church. But Christianity is, for me, fundamentally a communal religion - it's not only about the individual's relationship with God, but also about our relationships with one another. Paraphrasing massively, when Jesus was asked what the most important commandments were, he said 'Love God, and love your neighbour'; he also said that when two or three people gathered together in his name he would be there with them; and he also told us to share bread and wine in remembrance of him - all these things point for me towards the importance of the shared experience that comes from being a member of a church, rather than just a follower of a god, if that makes sense. But I don't want to make this sound 'cultish' - something you have to sign up to with rules you have to follow... there are so many different ways of 'being a member' of this community: online communities are one way, so maybe just stick around here for a bit in the first instance...

You asked what my faith means to me, and I find that so hard to answer. It means everything to me, not in the sense that everything that I do now is fundamentally different from what I did before, but because I view everything I do through a different lens. It's not that my basic values have changed, but that, I guess, I see them as part of a larger purpose or goal. My faith doesn't give me easy answers: I still see suffering, I still have questions I can't answer, I still hear church leaders saying things that I disagree with, I still have doubts... but my doubts don't take me out of the force-field of that love and peace that others have spoken about. In a busy and stressful life, and as a person who finds it hard to switch off (which is why I'm writing this at 3.30 a.m.!) it calms me, it helps me to focus on my own deeper needs and those of others. It gives me answers to some big questions and makes me question things I took as givens. It has made me feel that I belong in a place where previously I had lived for 10 years and not felt that I fitted in at all. It has made me a stronger, happier, better person. It has brought me real joy.

I recommend that you find out more, babysaurus. Think about what kind of church appeals to you (I like pattern and ritual, others like things to be a bit more free-flowing; organ and choir or band and modern songs... these things are only the trappings, of course, they are not the heart of the matter, but if getting it right makes you feel comfortable and able to access the deeper stuff then it is important) and go along and see how you feel. If it doesn't feel right, then maybe try somewhere else and see if it's better. Talk to people and get some recommendations. Ask questions. I pray that you find what you are looking for... and that, if you don't, you keep an open mind and maybe try again later. It took me a long time to find my way back, but it was so worth it.

Sorry this is so long. I do have a tendency to over-share... but you did ask! grin

babysaurus I would just like to say that it sounds like you are aware, with this lovely new baby, of the miracle of life. Maybe that is helpig you to ask the big questions about life. I would certainly recommend an Alpha course www.alpha.org/ I did one a long time ago and really enjoyed it. I would also recommend a local, friendly church and agree with others not to allow yourself to be rushed or pushed, just take your time to find your own way to God.

But just for the record, and as you asked smile it is Jesus that makes it all worth while for me. It was Jesus and his love that first caught my attention 30 years ago. He is amazing and he makes me amazing, he takes us as we are, and he encourages us forward.

stressedHEmum and marjproops I am so sorry to hear of the hard lives you have had and I am really grateful that you have peace and that God is giving you peace.

AgnesBligg Sun 31-Mar-13 03:55:04

Sorry to butt in. I'm not Godly in the slightest.

Just want to say that Rabbi Blue rocks!

I could listen to him all day long.

Tuo that is beautiful.

I would agree with you about the organised 'religion' side of it. I certainly don't agree with any of the horrible things done in the name of religion. However, organised religion in the form of churches has given some lovely support to me and others, when people are ill, when people are lonely etc. Plus the opportunity to serve and help others, so it is give and take, it is in community.

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