I have a question for anyone wanting to share. It is about God, belief, and religion.
For several years, now, I have been riding the wave of a religious crisis. I am searching for meaning behind what happened to me as a child. There seems to be no safe place to hide. There is no secret corner murky enough to shade my face from all that wants to make me evil. Even my dreams are marked by terror and death and loss.
I was attending church often, but the struggle of the past few years has taken even that from me and I hide inside my own house, afraid He will know I am a heathen. Or am I? I don’t know. Please read on and I will give you a bit of my history, so when I ask my question, you will not be shocked.
--- I was raised in a very staunch Lutheran church family. My own family was a bit stifling as well, in that my siblings and I were taught to attend church, no matter what. As an example, I was often stricken with tonsillitis and/or strep throat. One particular sick Sunday morning, I went to my mother and told her I didn’t want to go to Church. My parents hadn’t planned on going to church that day, but when I told them I didn’t want to go, the whole family went. We lived a 30 minute drive from the church and all the way to town , my father preached about how not wanting to go to God’s house meant I needed to go.
The only families I grew up with were from the same church. Most of my life, I thought they were my actual family members. I was 13 when I realized for the first time these wonderful people were not my blood family members – I was heartsick over it for weeks. Also, there was the Lutheran Brotherhood who, as my Mother tells me, was not sanctioned by the church but functioned within it. I was terrified of every one of them. They seemed to float above the rest of the members, judging, criticizing, and making sure no one dozed off during the sermons.
But I loved God. I was taught well by my Sunday School teachers (whom I love dearly, to this day). We learned Bible stories, praised the Lord, and sang Jesus Loves Me, every Sunday. At home I spent my spare time alone (much safer that way) and I practiced my praying skills. I actually believed the reason no prayers were answered was because I was not saying the right things, or using a proper humble voice, or I was still too young to be heard by such a great King.
But I loved Jesus. I understood what Easter really meant and I rejoiced in the true meaning of Christmas. To this very day, I will not use an “X” in the place of Christ in the word Christmas for fear of being blasphemous. I’m still waiting to get it right. I’m still waiting for a prayer, any prayer to be answered. This picture is a small plaque I’ve had most of my life. It hangs benignly beside my bed, where I can easily see its glow in the dark shape, telling me God is Love. ---
So, here is my question:
How do YOU know, really know, there is (or is not) a God?
I have asked many people this very question so many times; they probably think I’m a fanatic. I’m not a fanatic, I’m getting desperate. Do you know because you have been told it since before you can remember, or ... What? How do you know? I want to feel what others feel when they truly believe - or understand and be right with it, if He doesn't exist. I don't want there to be that question hanging over me like a dark cloud.
Who is He?