An Intro to Me – An Invitation to You

I titled this blog “Beyond Religiosity” because religiosity defines my experience of Christianity and I’m past it. I can’t be certain of that as certainty is one of those things I put behind me. Religiosity, in its first definition is merely, “the quality of being religious; piety; devoutness” but it’s the second definition that defines my Christian experience: “affected or excessive devotion to religion.” I was not as much “affected” (meaning pretentious, exaggerated or posh) as I was excessively devoted and I have moved beyond religiosity in that I am not fixated with spiritual matters anymore. I’m still curious, mind you, just not consumed. It’s been quite a journey and I believe this blog is one way we can help each other as recovering Christians heal and move on with our lives. I will open with an introduction about me to set an initial tone for discussion. I am hopeful others will join me in posting their own responses.
I got saved at the age of sixteen. Though I was not raised in a Christian home, I lived in predominantly Christian communities and periodically visited Sunday School as a child where I liked the stories (especially the punch and cookies) and learned that God is good. I also learned a fear of God – not the reverent awe taught in kinder churches, but terror of that proverbial white-bearded Judge ready to send you to eternal fires of torment if you got out of line. There was a fantastic quality about the salvation experience and subsequent discoveries of the opportunities to have a personal relationship with a God who loved me and was willing to forgive all my sin. It initiated for me a twenty-two year belief system that the Christian path was the one and only “correct” one.
Though “God and I” had a few rough spots early in the relationship (a little backsliding in my late teens and early twenties), throughout my journey of faith I learned more and more about the grace of God. This resulted in a somewhat healthier self-concept, sense of identity and both spiritual practices of managing life challenges and pursuit of personal growth. I developed, by the perceived assistance of the Holy Spirit, a process for resolving painful emotions and addressing questions that challenged my faith where I did not judge my authentic feelings and thoughts, but confessed them to God, laying them on His altar for any perspective He gave me. Through study of the Scriptures and receipt of what I believed what was divine revelation, I resolved most life challenges and accepted that He would work out the rest in His own time. I would receive validation of my spiritual insights through the church, confirming to me I was on the right path. I also felt I was fulfilling the divine prescription for spiritual health: study of the Bible, prayer and fellowship with the saints.
In my mid-thirties I went back to college to obtain my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I was always attracted to personal development and believed my studies would not only result in a more satisfying and profitable career, but provide practical knowledge of how the mind works which I could relate through theology to biblical insight. What misconceptions those were! What actually happened was that the questions challenging my faith became more menacing and divine revelations harder to come by. I held onto previous comforts received by my heavenly Father through a divine silence that lasted over a year. I slowly stopped practicing all the disciplines of the divine prescription for a healthy Christian walk and fell into depression that made finishing my degree problematic (I did obtain it, though). The crisis was traumatic, a long period of getting worse and gradually better until now where I am finally finding a satisfying quality of life outside the Christian faith.
Though I no longer believe the reported words of Jesus: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life – no one comes to the Father but by Me,” I still experience some residual struggles from having felt for so long I was in a relationship with an almighty God who was real and personal. Some of the things that have helped me in my recovery are a continued focus on personal growth, living in the moment and a revamped process of resolving life challenges and the residual hauntings of the impactful experiences as a Christian. A focus on personal growth involves a practice of reflection and introspection. I do this mostly do through journalizing. I use mindfulness to practice living in the moment – appreciating and savoring the joys and pleasures of life, observing less pleasant experiences with a sense of objectivity and not fixating on the past or waiting for life to begin in the future. The process of resolving the trials of life is a three-step process I will outline, publish and, hopefully post on a different page of this blog with other articles. Please share your thoughts, your stories and things you have found helpful in your experience independent of the Christian faith. Thank you for allowing me to share mine with you!

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