Monday, January 07, 2008

My Story

I was raised in a home that today might be considered quite religious. We went to Catholic church every Sunday, and I was brought up with religious training. When I was very young I remember kneeling at our bed and praying before bedtime with my Mom and siblings -- “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mommy and Daddy, Teri and Jeri, Andee, Jobie and Robbie, and Grandpa and Grandma Greff, and Grandpa and Grandma Liebnow. Amen.” Reading that prayer now, it must have been a little scary at age 3 going to bed every night with my last thought being dying in my bed.
I spent most of my youth in confusion about God and how He fit into real life. I knew that I loved God or, more accurately, that I should love God, but as the years went by, it seemed to me that He was just a far off God who did not actually interact with people, although He used to. Now He simply had requirements that we could ignore if we desired. Mass and catechism and sacraments became merely obligations imposed by my mom with a lot of ineffective guilt and improbable divine retribution attached. I became very disillusioned about church and God. My home was moral and loving, but there was never any talk about God being a part of how one was to deal with daily matters. Prayers slowly discontinued as we all objected as being too old for that sort of thing. God was only a Sunday thing, a being Who in my mind was capricious in granting wishes and really quite powerless to stop anyone from doing any evil act. Oh, in the Bible He was great, but in my life and family, He was of little influence, it seemed. I was raised to believe that kindness and goodness were virtues that everyone should exhibit, but the more I was unkind and not good, the more I despised my own character, and in my bruised pride I became confused about what was right and wrong. It was much easier to imagine that society could decide what was wrong and right than to try to follow an overabundance of antiquated rules that no one else was following. School and society seemed to indicate that believing in God and attending church were old-fashioned activities, and for losers, and I certainly didn’t want to be uncool. My life soon began to revolve around trying to have “fun” and be “happy.” I mean, what was the point of doing otherwise? For me fun seemed to mean partying and running around, drugs and drinking--in general, pandering to every whim of my conflicted flesh. After a time of indulging in these sorts of activities I noticed that my conscience didn't even bother me anymore concerning them and I grew less and less worried about appearing to be a person with bad morals. Anything went as long as I wasn't hurting anyone else! My younger sister, in the meantime, had become a “Christian” and seemed to be inordinately concerned that we weren’t all going to be going to heaven after we died. She had the nerve to insinuate that we weren't quite up to par when it came to being Christians. We all thought she was quite arrogant, since clearly, we were Christians! We belonged to a church, didn’t we? We were baptized. We hadn't murdered anyone, right? We weren't criminals. What more could anyone expect?

To be continued...


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