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What Next?

By Caden ~

The moment that I truly lost my faith was during Adoration. Adoration is a Catholic practice. Basically the whole life of the Catholic Church is the Eucharist, the piece of bread you receive at communion. Catholics believe that when that piece of bread is blessed during Mass and turned into the Eucharist then it is the ACTUAL body of Christ. That is why communion is such an important thing to Catholics. Adoration is where we take the Eucharist and put it into a holder (forgot what it is called). The whole church is quite and everybody prays to the Eucharist and in Catholic’s eyes it is as if God himself is in the room with us. I was doing this Adoration on a College Church retreat about a month ago. While I was sitting there I looked around. People where in intense prayer and worship and were really putting themselves out there. I tried to pray but I couldn’t help but think: I am worshiping a piece of bread! This thought continued to run through my mind and it has been in the back of my thoughts ever since. These thoughts of doubt aren’t new though because for the last year and a half I have been on a religious roller coaster.

I graduated High School about a year and a half ago and was a great Christian before that but I had many doubts in my soul upon graduation. Once I graduated and got away from my roots I decided I wanted to try different things in life. I have bounced back and forth from partying, going to Church, declaring myself as an atheist, and going to Bible studies in the last 18 months. In all of this conflict I have come up with two facts.

  1. I am a very spiritual person.
  2. Intellectually I can’t believe in God/ It is incredibly difficult for me to intellectually believe in God.

The conflict is obvious. I love to pray, meditated, and read the Bible. I read not for the doctrine but for the life lessons and virtue that the Bible can teach. I like to pray/meditate because I get a sense of peace from it and feel a connection to the world. This is where my dilemma is at. I am still deeply spiritual. I have high morals and am happiest when I keep these morals. I have tried not being spiritual or moral and ended up in a dark place. For example I have had one night stands and despite popular culture these things are empty and hollow and I’m now waiting till I find somebody that I love. I used to drink every weekend but am now doing it occasionally and am no longer like my other college peers getting trashed four nights a week. By having these characteristics I am an outcast at my D-1 college. I don’t fit in with the typical college student. Forgetting who I am, going to a bar to have dry sex with some random girl, and then trying to take her home to finish the job isn’t my cup of tea. I am more empathetic and I like to have a deeper meaning in life. With this is mind I become attracted to religion. I get to meet many like-minded people when I go to Church. I am talking to a girl at Church right now because she has a lot of what I like in a person. She isn’t slutty at all, doesn’t drink much, driven to succeed, and is an overall classy person. This is really hard to come by at a D-1 college.

I am just having this huge internal battle because my mind can’t understand God but I act like a Christian on the outside. I also see that God is on the losing side of the battle. Almost all educated people worship a God of the gaps and those gaps are continually shrinking. I just don’t know what to do because I am invested in my Church and thrive when I have some spirituality in my life. I see that there is more to life than this materialistic, hedonistic, consuming culture we live in. America has so much wealth and prosperity but America isn’t happy. American culture for the most part treats so many issues wrong. A few examples are our objectification of women and our glamorization of promiscuity and self-absorption. Something is missing, I just don’t know what it is. That is why I still follow religion. I see eye to eye on many of its teachings about how to live out life. I just can’t get my mind around the mystical part of faith.

Here are two reasons that I have so much doubt. I have many more but here are the two major ones that have been in plagued my mind lately.

The first is the inconsistencies in denominations. There are literally thousands, thousands of churches! I am Catholic but I have gone to other churches. Still Catholicism has been my main form of Christianity. I tried out the evangelical scene for a while but it come off as a huge cult and at its core was very cliquey, fear driven, and judgment. Anyway all Christian leaders put on a front “well as long as they worship Jesus they are OK with us”. No. Not true. They say that to keep face but deep down and in backroom conversations it is totally different. All denominations talk trash on each other and tear each other down. They point out the flaws of the other Churches. I have come to the conclusion that not one church is “right” they are all equally defective.

One argument that people use for the Catholic Church is “Even with all those flaws God loves us still and is guiding us. We have been around for thousands of years so we must be doing something right”. That doesn’t work because Judaism and Buddhism have been around longer; do they have the same guidance from God? Also God’s guidance has gotten the Church into many hotspots before: genocide, murder, fraud, entire wars and splintering because of the Protestant Reformation. By saying that your church is right because it has been here longest isn’t a quality argument. My High School geometry teacher was the oldest teacher but she still sucked at teaching.

That is my impasse. That is my dilemma. When I left High School I was filled with doubt and turned from God. I tried to live without God and partied my first year of college. I had fun but at my core wasn’t happy with my life. Therefore I fell back to religion but the questions that first drove me away are still in my mind. I am happy now with my religion even though I pick and choose what I want from it. I live a better life but don’t know where to go next. Should I just keep blindly following my faith? Should I continue to fake it and just reap the benefits of Church? Or should I try living again to live without God/spirituality and have the possibility of being depressed. I can’t turn to other religions because I see the holes in their God/Gods. Should I try to be a spiritual atheist? Does that even exist? I don’t know and I want to find some answer.

I am 20 years old and my life is a bliss. I am thrilled at the journey that I have been on and am still on. I am just confused on the next step to take but am constantly growing. I came here because many of you as former Christians have dealt with similar experiences. Another reason I choose to search for answers at this site is because people here are extremely open and honest. If I brought these thoughts up at Church or my Bible studies I would be feared and shunned. Ironic? I think so. Therefore be honest. Be open. I appreciate what you say. I “pray” that you are all happy with your own path in life and that you find joy in whatever it is you do.