I have reached a spiritual crossroads in my life. I am lost, adrift, alone.
I was born in England and back then it was the usual thing for people to get their children baptised into the church. We had few choices in my area; Roman Catholic, Church of England or Methodist. (I will not disclose which one I was baptised into.)
As a child, I was in the cubs, then scouts and it was as part of those organisations that most of my contact with the church came in the form of church parades. As part of the regular services, we would be allowed to parade our flag and form an honour guard at the church door at the start and end of the services.
Adulthood came and like many other people, daily life took over and other matters ate into my time and energy. I went to services when I could, but the excuses not to attend came easier over time.
Then I fell in love. We courted (now there’s an old-fashioned word!) for a while and decided to marry and were happy for a while. Then my wife’s family suffered several tragedies. What made things worse is this was not a one-off event, but happened to individual members of her family in separate incidents over four to five months. Funerals became a far too frequent occurrence. My wife was destroyed by grief and no matter what I tried to do to help, it failed to help her recover. Eventually, she told me she wanted us to part our ways as whenever she cared about someone she ended up losing them and she could not go through that pain again. She moved away to get a fresh start on her own and to be fair, I could not criticise her for it. I didn’t feel entitled to start to deal with my own pain, without helping her to recover first.
A few years went by and I met someone new. The relationship got stronger and we decided to marry. We made an appointment to talk to the clergyman about marrying in church, the same church we had both been baptised in. We had quite a long discussion about life and the ending of my previous marriage. I went through all of the measures I had tried to help my now ex-wife in some, quite personal at times, detail. The clergyman then told us he would not marry us as I was a divorcee.
I felt rejected. Sub-standard. A second class citizen.
I never set foot in that church again.
For over two decades I never really thought about religion again, until recently.
The community where I live has expanded over the years and there are more churches here now, yet I can’t get that rejection out of my head. Talking about churches seems inextricably linked to rejection for me and I am not sure of a way forward. Oddly enough, it was seeing Machine Gun Preacher that got me thinking again.
Now I know they say “God works in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform” but that is what triggered me thinking about religion again.
A sense of purpose. A mission. Helping others in and beyond your community.
Then that sense of rejection, of not being good enough hits.
To paraphrase Professor Robert Langdon in Angels and Demons, “Faith is a gift I have yet to re-receive.”