I started the project of letting go and letting God at the start of Lent with the hope of better understanding my Christian friends.  I wanted to understand their relationship with God.  For me, God is often nothing more than an afterthought; I think it is like that for most people.  We only really consider the idea of a higher power when we need something.  When life seems out of control we begin to call on God for help, but the rest of the time we forget.  We live our lives, making decisions, rarely considering God in that process.

I can’t live that kind of life, which might explain why I have not committed to a devoted Christian lifestyle.  I don’t know what that really means for my life though.  I mean if I truly believed in a God that is everything my friends claim he is, then I don’t know how I could live my life and not be committed to pleasing him.  All things considered, I am someone who strives to please the people around her.  If I were a faithful Christian, I would be nothing less.

So what’s holding me back?  I would argue that several things are keeping me from becoming a devoted Christian, and one of them is a perception of Christians.  I find that so many of them profess one thing on Sunday and live a completely different life the other six days.  They judge others for their weaknesses and generally do not love people the way they claim to, they simply pity them for failing to live up to impossible standards.  Not only that, most do not seem to respect other people’s rights not to share their beliefs. It often seems to me that if most Christians had their way, it would be illegal to live beyond their thinly defined morality code.  The trouble is that a lot of the doctrine of the Christian church is things that aren’t agreed upon between denominations.  I think love should generally trump hate, and I feel that disrespecting people and trying to impose your belief system on them is hateful.

I collect pins and my mom once gave me one that said “Dear God, Please protect me from your followers”, and in a lot of cases I think that is a prayer worth praying.  My problem is not with God, but rather with his people that distort his teachings, I struggle with people who are so overcome by their own pride that they cannot imagine anything beyond their own interpretation of religion.  This is admittedly not all Christians.  I have met some amazing Christians that truly live what they preach; however, I still find that even many of them seem to be filled with hate for anything that is alien to their belief system.

So what I have learned so far is that I’m a long way from being a church going Christian.  I still need to figure out who I am and what beliefs fit in where, but I can’t do that with people who are constantly judging my every action. I grew up in a church where I would present myself one way on Sunday and the rest of the time I would just be myself.  I was baptized at 14, the same year I started performer pagan rituals in my backyard.

I don’t regret performing those rituals in my back yard.  They were part of a process of understanding who I am and what I believe.  I think that one thing that most Christian churches lack is a strong connection to ritual.  I am, of course, not suggesting that Christians sit in their backyard surrounded by candles praying, but rather that they connect with the traditions of their religion, such as lent and actually facilitate the relationship that they claim to have.  It is difficult to believe that anyone has a “relationship” with God when they forget about him 363 days a year.  I am still not sure what I’m seeking, but I can say without hesitation that this time of connecting with God has left me feeling like most of his followers have forgotten his message.  People do not even try to live Jesus’ message; they just emulate Old Testament God because wrath we understand, forgiveness eludes us.

So another few weeks of my experiment remains.  I don’t know if this adventure will leave me following the Christian faith or seeking something else.  What I do know is that there is something seriously lacking in the Christian church today, and I think it is a number of things ranging from compassion to genuine faith in God.