Recently I read a blog entry entitled “Don’t Pray For Me” by tamaooo the link to this particular blog is http://tamaooo.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/dont-pray-for-me/
it is definitely worth the read! the blog talks about a man’s relationship with his wife, and his wifes relationship with her religion and how the intersection of those led to a troubled marriage. But what sparked me to write in my own blog was a specific concept that can be summarized in this quote taken from the blog “She fears God, but her god and the church are one in the same”
I used to be that girl, there was no separating my relationship with God and my church. I would go to church EVERY DAY, I gave every ounce of my time to my church for 2 yrs. I would go to 5am prayer, noon prayer, I would clean the church, *from 18yrs old to 20* I had a key, I would go to every service and I would even sell candy on street corners to raise money for my church. My church was my God, my pastor and the other members were my God. I was never encouraged to think otherwise. I didnt have a job, the only money that came in was money here and there that my pastor gave me as an “atta girl”. My pastor was very controlling, she told us what “God” wanted us to wear and not to wear, she emphasised the importance of “giving” which looking back on now seems more like God based blackmail than anything. My pastor would call me and say, you got a new cell phone and you haven’t paid your tithe “sister nicci” , she would attempt to control all of my time, and even though I had moved out of my mother’s house I felt like an overworked child. But thats not the worse part.
I felt like I was learning so many things, that everything I was doing for and with my church was for my benefit, that it was preparing me for adulthood, marriage, responsibility, every problem that I might face I was learning the tools to face them with. When in fact….I learned nothing to equip me for the world, the real world. The world outside of church. I learned this after I left my church. In AmuUso’s blog he talks about the way a woman’s religion can separate her from her husband…..my blog is about how my religion separated me from myself. I’d spent so much time in my church soaking in all of this “knowledge” and when I needed it most none of it was helpful. I was raped a few months after I left my church. Those 2 yrs I’d spent under the thumb of my church were for NOTHING. I had no direction, no guidance and worst of all I had no relationship with GOD. I had left my church and I had left my GOD. Not on purpose, no, but in reality I didnt have a personal relationship with God, I had a personal relationship w/ the rules, regulations, sanctions and work of the church. I didnt know God, I knew pastor. So when I left church I left “God”. For someone going through what I was going through it was devastating to realize the foundation i had been building for 2 yrs was inadequate to help me through….I was always encouraged to learn and follow God’s rules but I never worked on myself as a person, I worked on getting others saved, making others happy, taking care of the church but I had no strength left to care for myself when I left.
“I found God in myself and I loved her, I loved her fiercely” – Ntozake Shange……
Every time I compare how I was to how I am now I am amazed. Now …more than strong I am sure, I know my value as a human being, I know my boundaries (as far as people are concerned) I set real goals for myself and I work towards them….things that I never did before. Working on myself after I was raped turned me into someone I was proud of and I have more to show after this 6 months than I did after my 2 year fanatical tour of religion! I took myself to counseling and i signed up for a woman’s studies course and I began to understand what happened to me, I found the instructions to the puzzle of my life in feminism! I used to be fighting so hard on the spiritual behalf of others, I never changed any lives with my desire to “save” people but as a feminist, just blogging about fat acceptance, rape, domestic abuse…… fuck, just TWEETING about these things has helped so many! I get messages on my blog and through twitter and in person from people who have read what I write and used my experiences to start taking control of their own lives! The God in me, is the same God in everyone else, thats where She lives, not in a church, my God doesnt live in my ex-pastor, or one of my friends, She lives in me, She does not condemn people and yet she inspires me to change the world, to right wrongs and to live my life with power over myself and compassion for others…..a monumental lesson for a 21 yr old woman to have and now that I’ve separated my God from my church, my dream of changing the world is coming true. And I truly believe that God led me to feminism. I am not an atheist, I am not a christian, I believe in God and myself and that has made me valuable, and asset to myself and to those around me. Eat that shit up RELIGION!