Until last Sunday I had not willingly gone to church since I was 18 years old (I'm now 30). Sure I'd been in churches for friends' choir performances or rummage sales and, quite sadly, for a few funerals as well. But I hadn't actually attended a service in over 12 years until we packed the kids into the car last week and dove right in.
If you're wondering why I haven't been to church in so long, the short story is that I just didn't feel comfortable going anymore. The longer story is that after I graduated high school a lot of my friends in the church went off to college and when I tried going back after my first failed attempt at college, it just wasn't the same. About that time I was also realizing that maybe mainstream Christianity wasn't my cup of tea for various reasons. Not the least of which being that I'd fallen in love with one girl and was trying really hard to convince myself that my friend J was really just that. Add in that I'd been slowly feeling more drawn to earth-centered religions and I was just a walking ball of sin. I was convinced that if anybody ever found out they'd kick me out of the church, so it was just easier to leave on my own terms.
So, like my realization about my sexuality, my shift in religious beliefs wasn't just a phase. I loosely follow an eclectic mix of Pagan traditions and don't really belong to just ones. I also still believe in God, though my feelings on Jesus are mixed. Essentially I believe in the christian God, but I also believe that he is not alone. I observe the changing of the seasons, I talk to the moon as well as pray to God.
After reading all of that I wouldn't be at all surprised if you're confused about why I'm going back to church. Well, mostly the answer is that it's just time. I've been feeling really disconnected lately, not from my immediate family exactly but more like that I'm missing a sense of belonging to something bigger than just us.
L and I found a Unitarian Universalist church here in town and because L has been to UU churches in the past and has always felt comfortable attending them we decided to check that one out. Before we went I had a chance to do a little homework (aka: ask the great Google) on UU churches in general, and especially the values and beliefs they hold. Considering that they are not only accepting of my non-christian beliefs but integrate them into services, as well as the fact that they are LGBT friendly, I'm pretty sure this is going to be the kind of church we'll be attending from now on. Also, whether we continue to attend the tiny UU church here in town, or travel 45 minutes to attend one of the bigger ones in the next sizable town/city is not decided yet. The one here is certainly convenient, and the people of the congregation were all lovely and welcoming, but the congregation is older (more my mom's age) and I was really hoping for at least a few people our age with kids closer to C & R's age. As it is we are the only people in their 20s/30s that attended last weekend, we'll see how this weekend goes because we're going back in the morning. Who knows, even if no other younger people are part of the congregation this might just be our new church home.