I will perface this with; I am re-evaluating my faith, what it is in, and why. To analyze my faith is important as I don't want an "unreal faith" of a transcendant kind. I want to understand where I place my hope and why...if one is not interested in a personal story, then "move on".
When I came to faith, I thought that it meant I had a family, who were commanded to love and accept me. This was something I could not even begin to believe, as never had I felt "good enough" or acceptable. This was such good news that all I could do was cry, whenever I thought about it. And it called for me to be as consecrated as I could to the task of knowing what I believed.
I had hated myself so much growing up that I really felt like I should not have existed. And even more so, because I thought that my very existance was a mistake, as I was the product of a failed marriage. My rationale and my grandmother confirmed it, was that if the marriage was not "intended" then I wasn't. (I had not learned about contingencies yet, as I thought that everything was either in the "right plan"(God's will) or "not in the right plan" (not God's will). )My self hatred was theologized by identification with Christ's death. "I" was 'taken away, as God was the one who deserved to live, as he had given himself for me and I didin't have to be "me" or face myself, as I could never accept myself.
Growing up, I never felt that I belonged anywhere. My mother had divorced my father when I was a toddler and we moved into my mother's step-father and mother's home. As my grandmother worked, I was baby-sat by my grandmother's maid, Elizabeth.
After a few years, my mother who had gone back to school met a very wealthy man and was to marry him, only to find out that he had someone on the side, even after their invitations had been sent out! My mother was devastated (I believe) and met another young man at a party, who had been a Marine. They soon married and we moved to another state.
Every week-end I would go to visit my grandparents, as my step-father was really not ready for a "ready-made family". My younger brother was born less than a year into their marriage and we moved several times during that 3 year period. I was very lonely as a child and would cry myself to sleep. Whenever my mother would hear me and question me, I would feel guilty and lie to her about having a nightmare.
After my family moved back to the same city as my grandparents, I eventually moved in with them. My grandfather had had no natural children as he had married my grandmother after her divorce. My grandfather loved children, but my grandmother "had raised hers". I always felt she resented me living with them. There were times I was left alone and it would frighten me. I wrote my name on the wall behind Papa's chair, where I used to hide until they would come back.
I am not saying that by "world standards" that my life was "bad", but it was no healthy. I always was jealous of my boyfriends, and would find myself unusually anxious about separation, which I recognized after coming to faith as an emotional response of memory. (My father had visitation rights and would see me regularly, until one day he just never came back!).
I won't go into anymore detail, as I think that gives one some "picture" of "my life" before faith.
Faith meant that I was valued, I belonged, I was significant (didn't mean important), but, that all was challenged and changed for many reasons.
Reason was anti-thetical to faith, as I came to faith through personal experience and believed that "the natural man does not recieve the things of the spirit, as they are spiritually discerned". This was a fundamental belief, as it was a spiritualized understanding that did not connect the dots to the 'real world".
In being exposed to various subjects, I began to try to integrate faith in a more realistic way. But, in the midst of coming to terms with reason, my brother commited suicide due to numerous reasons. But, of primary importance, was his disappointment with a Church split.
The impact of unanswered prayer, his disappointment, as well as my own, intellectual integration questions, a lack of connection locally, raising teen-agers, my husband's diagnosis with diabetes and the loss of his parents all culminated within a few years.
I had just begun working on gaining some self respect before the move to where we are. In that journey, I had learned that I was not just valued because of God, but because I was a person apart from God. Thus, the separation of my identity from "god's" and others.
I know this is infantile work, as I had not developed personally, and it was/is necessary. I have had need of community, but no community that I felt I belonged to for my own reasons, and not for any "other" purpose. It is important that I be valued for myself, as without that, it de-values "me" as an independent being, which I think is foundational to whole psychological health.
Therefore, my projection and fear of "co-ercion" and a need to belong have long roots and personal history. I have found that communities of faith are not places of safety, but places of "warfare". I cannot believe that a "milatary stance" is the stance I want to take in regards to faith, as it de-personlizes faith to duty and attacks others faith as "less". Value judgments are not what I want to be a part of, in regards to faith.
So, reason is necessary for me, as otherwise, there is no reason to hope that faith has any grounding other than my "emotional need". And while emotional need isn't to be invalidated, it is not what I would call a good reason to believe. I am not interested in some spiritualized understanding, which is beginning with faith "smacks" of to me. For, if one begins with faith, there is just "irrational choice' for me. There has to be reason for hope, or there is no hope. And hope is about government, as good government is just, as it affirms "rights', which is important to me, as I had none growing up. The "real world" not the spiritual world is one in which we must value the individual and their right to exist and have choice. Bad government is like bad parenting.
So, I really am not about the "value" of missions, or some spiritual salvation, as that is disconnected and very cruel to give to those who are suffering under harsh realities in life. So, I question my commitment to the Church, in general. Experience has taught me that it is best to deal with the "real world" and let the spiritual take care of itself, as believing that communities of faith are some 'spiritual family" is really not rational. But, it was a belief and a need of mine in the past.
I have learned that life is about choices, value, and responsibility. Life is not about transcendental truth, but personal truth as one lives one's life according to the values that are most important. Personal values should be owned by the individual, and not judged by anyone else. And that is something I will fight for, for no one should take away another rights to their life, liberty or pursit of happiness.