OK, so over the past year I have begun to formulate my own faith, belief and spirituality. I do recognize that I have let go of a significant piece of my life when I left the church (even though I still attend at times with my children). Since I am gay and not living a celibate life, I had to leave the church - my choice. I know there are some that just stop attending church and get lost in the shuffle but never "un-member" themselves from the church. I knew that if I became a "practicing gay person" personally I would need to leave the church and not go against church doctrine while still belonging to the church. I recall being offered the life of celibacy by a couple church leaders.....thanks by NO THANKS!
Back to the spirituality.....sometimes I feel that the religious system I was a part of thins that they have the corner of the market on spirituality. The Spirit is bestowed upon them after baptism, I gave that up. I pray in the same way as I used to, but I gave up that connection with heaven when I left the church. I read my scriptures, but I gave up the ability for inspiration when I left the church. In essence I have become a heathen. So how do I built spirituality in my own life?
I have thrown out prior religious convention. I try to not bind myself with my prior construct of spirituality that was fed to me for decades. I use my feelings, promptings (not from the Spirit because I cannot own that anymore), intuition and guidance from my own experiences. I know God lives and loves me. I am his son (one of many). I know that Christ redeemed us from this earthly life.....yes ALL of us. I lay my faith at their feet to figure all of this dissonance that exists in this life. I am doing the best I know how in the circumstances I find myself. I know I will never be part of the "normalcy" that once was. I am glad that I am on the path that I trod now.
I do not plan to "get in line" like I did before and accept everything doctrinally from the pulpit. I will continue to ask questions of why one religious convention does things one way and another convention doing something opposite. I am learning many things about my previous belief system that I should have asked question about and did not. I "got in line" instead. I conformed to the expectations, written and unwritten, that the church had. I have been posed with the question and statements of "why did I get married", "you were living a lie", "you betrayed those you love", "why could you not of endured to the end". My response now is.......YES, I should have been more forthcoming before marriage or a mission......YES I should have endured to the end.......BUT, within a closed, prescribed, religious system I feel I was set up to fail.
I could have come out and been honest earlier in my life....but I believe that I was not strong enough internally to do that. I am glad that I did not do it then. I probably would have made decisions that would have taken my life on to a totally different path and (knowing myself) would probably not be alive today. There was limited support back then, and very strong people were those that came out. They were pioneers in their own right! Instead I chose the socially acceptable thing to do, conform. I have had many precious experiences in that time.....children, marital experience, work, education that have formed who I am. I am NOT sorry for those things.
I do believe that there also is responsibility for those closed, prescribed, religious systems to react to situations similar to mine......loss of faith, change of life style, differences of opinion......this would allow for some flexibility within each system. If there is a change in personal belief or practice those individual changes will not be so devastating. Yes I used the word devastating. Devastating to many people involved.....family, friends, acquaintances. Each person and organization has to be able to adapt and adjust for each to continue to be healthy.