STRUGGLE BUS DRIVER: JORDAN
Goodness reader, I don't know if I will ever get this timing thing down for when I create posts. I know I should probably set a day aside in my schedule where I do it, but I just kind of wanted this to be more of an organic thing that I can use when I'm feeling motivated. In my defense, I do think that I warned you that I would not be consistent so if that's what you're expecting then you're going to be severely disappointed. My apologies in advance. :)
I'm going to be honest with you on this post, not all of you are going to like it. However, like I've said before, I'm not here to push my beliefs on you and I'm not here to sway your opinion in any certain way. What I am here for, is to vent about my life and the things I need to get off my chest.
What you can do is either read it and take it in or guess what!? There's this red button on the top right corner of your screen that if you click on it, you can make all of this go away. It's amazing because the choice is yours! You don't have to put yourself through this if you don't want to. So if you disagree with something I say or a topic I decide to cover, exercise your right to leave this page. Don't be an asshole and continue reading just to piss yourself off and leave a nasty comment. My invitation to you is to feel free to leave whenever. My feelings won't be hurt.
That being said, for a very long time, I've been struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation. Ever since the first time I moved I've sometimes allowed this emptiness in my chest to consume me and basically incapacitate me outside of my required responsibilities. At times I've felt so alone that I just lay in bed, cry, and eat my feelings. Each time I've moved I've dealt with this a little better and readjusted to my new environment quicker, however, there is still that space in my heart that I just can't seem to fill.
Not only have I been dealing with this emotional seclusion, but for some time now, I've also been struggling with my spirituality. I've been questioning the existence of God and my beliefs in him since I can remember. To give you a little background, my family was highly dedicated to going to church as a child. When I was very little we would all go and sometimes it would be made really special because afterwards we got treated to a McDonald's breakfast. I went to Sunday school every Sunday, and when I was in 7th grade, I started my journey to getting confirmed.
Prior to the confirmation ceremony, my Pastor gave us an assignment to write a speech about our relationship with God. Now, at this point,, I had started to question my beliefs. I'd had a grandparent pass away from cancer, I had experienced 9/11, I had a lot of doubts passing through my head. Despite my hesitations, the topic I selected for my speech was on how being confirmed isn't an ending to your relationship with God, it's a beginning.
My pastor loved it so much he asked if I would read it out loud to the congregation on the day of our confirmation. Although I have a tendency to get emotional when public speaking, I agreed because honestly I was kind of arrogant about the fact that out of all the speeches, mine was selected to be shared so that meant it was the best right? (I shudder at my own appalling ego here reader, I'm not proud to admit that, but it happened).
Confirmation Sunday comes around. I share my speech (sounding like I was going to burst into tears at any moment according to my family) and lo and behold I am an adult in the church. Here's where the real irony of my speech lies...I went to church the next Sunday only to never attempt going to church again until college. Yep, that's right. The girl that spoke in front of EVERYONE at their own confirmation about having an everlasting relationship with God quit having one after SEVEN DAYS. Again, not necessarily a proud moment in my life, but these are facts folks.
So, I went on to live life occasionally teasing my relationship with the Big Man here and there. I had another grandparent pass away, had a classmate and his mom get killed by a drunk driver, and went through the perils of everyday life with this building guilt for my own hypocrisy.
I had rejected religion for so long, but soon enough I was ready to try again. My freshman or sophomore year of college, one of my friends and I discovered that we were the same denomination. We both discussed how long it had been since being in church and that we were willing to give it another shot. She selected a church specific to our denomination and one Sunday we planned to go. Let me tell you reader, this is one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life!
This church had a very small congregation. My friend and I were the ONLY two college aged people in attendance. The pastor called us out in the middle of the service for being new to the church and how they don't know us, but excited to have new visitors. The gentleman sitting in front of us said something to the effect of "Oh, but we'll get to know you." And to top this all off, the thing that made me feel the worst about that day, was the fact the the message in the sermon was preaching everything I hated and distrusted about religion. Needless to say, this was not the place to rekindle my relationship with God.
I tried again a few years later. Still in college, this time with a different friend at a nondenominational church. This church was my first experience with the modernized services that have become commonplace in our society. There was a live band that plays while you sing words displayed on these large TVs, and then there is the regular messages and sermon. This was a much more relaxed and anonymous environment, but something still didn't feel right. I found myself still holding back from the message and all the commitment in the room and thus my church experience in college expired.
After college, I still kept my distance from the church, but I continued to indulge in prayer from time to time. I don't know when I started this habit, but for the past few years, whenever I see a cross or memorial set up on the side of the road, I send up a little prayer for the soul of that individual and healing for their family/loved ones. Being as non-committal to God and Jesus as I have been, this even surprised me when I became conscious of the fact that I was doing it. I remember laughing at myself once thinking how amusing it was that I didn't fully believe in God and yet I was asking for him to bless the soul of someone I don't know and never would.
Continuing on my journey, not until recently have I made an attempt at reestablishing my relationship with God. When I first moved I met a very kind individual at my gym who encouraged me to become friends with his wife. His wife, gracious as she is, invited me to go to a service one night specific to people our age. I agreed because I thought, "what's the worst that can come of this?" Also,, I had literally been alone every day for almost two weeks at this point so I needed to engage with people outside of myself.
Now if you thought my first college church experience was awkward, just wait, and keep in mind that when I recount this story, I literally know no one at this church and I have been rejecting God for about a decade at this point. I get there and find out the person I'm meeting is in the band for the service. She asks if it's okay if we sit in the front because I guess that's what she normally does and I want to make friends at this point so against my better judgement, I agree. The service starts much like the modern one back in Iowa, with the band playing music, but what I wasn't prepared for was the extreme dedication that these people put into their worship during song. The instant, a musical note came off that stage the people around me all went into their own kind of space, raising their hands, closing their eyes, rocking back and fourth, and with some of the most passionate singing I've ever seen in my life.
To say I was unprepared for this experience is a bit of an understatement. I literally stood there awkwardly rocking side to side, not singing, trying to become as small and unnoticeable as possible, holding my arms to my sides. This of course having the opposite effect of my desires and causing myself to stick out like a sore thumb. Holy Jesus, was I out of my element.
The singing finally ended and the service began. To be honest, I did like the message of those who spoke and appreciated the stories and incorporation of humor throughout. What I didn't necessarily enjoy were the subtle, but still obvious statements made in the message about not being embarrassed and to feel okay embracing your spiritual experience. As if anyone else in that church was not "embracing" their experience. I feel like you could have stated you needed a kidney in that room and five people would get up to volunteer. Yes, I may be an over-thinker, but it becomes pretty obvious that these statements were directed my way, especially when one of the people delivering the message asks to come pray with me.
I don't know if you've ever experienced someone asking to pray with or for you, but as if I weren't already uncomfortable enough and emotionally on edge, this was the worst thing that could have happened to me in that moment. Of course I felt obligated to say yes, I mean you're not going to deny some person offering to think of you positively, but I so badly wanted to say no. As this woman is praying for me, all I can concentrate on is my guilt about how I gave up my relationship so long ago. At this moment I know in my heart that I will never reach the level of dedication that I had witnessed that day. If anyone knows me, they can probably guess what happened at this point, but I broke down and started crying.
This situation could not have been more uncomfortable for me at this point, but thankfully, soon after they started up the music again. I was allowed time to compose myself enough to say goodbye to the friendly couple that had invited me before going to my car and sobbing for a solid 10 minutes.
Despite my rejection to God and religion, I had attempted several times to bring it back into my life, and every time, I felt like I had failed. I continuously was being deterred from ever having a relationship with God because of these distressing experiences. It felt like I was continually being the butt of a cruel joke and I started to consider that maybe a relationship with God just wasn't in the cards.
As time went on I started to get closer to this girl I had met in my orientation class at my new job. In my conversations with her, I knew she was religious and I opened up a little about my unease when it comes to the whole church thing. She validated my odd occurrences as not normal and I can't thank her enough for taking the approach that she did in offering a different church experience without having me feel forced obligated to say yes.
Fast forward a couple weeks and this friend invites me to take part in a book club with some girls that she knows. Now, I'm still fairly new to this area and my friend pool is severely limited at this point (not to mention I've been meaning to read more books), but of course I say yes to this opportunity. Her friend had already had a book in mind so I just go with it and resort to good ol' Amazon.
The book arrives, and at this point I'd completely forgotten what the title even was. I open it, read the cover, and just kind of pause for a second, because the title is Anonymous: Jesus's Hidden Years, and Yours..." Ah great. A Jesus book. While not completely enthused with the selection, I just shake my head and accept my fate. At this point, the worst it could do is add to my list of unfortunate religious experiences, but I do hope for the best. Little did I know, this book was exactly what I didn't know I needed.
Reading the book has been an intriguing experience. I found myself appreciating the way the author set up the chapters and the overall message of the chapter to be based in the Bible, but exemplified through real life experiences. I found myself thinking, "Well this makes sense" so many times throughout the boo, however, the book alone didn't turn my skeptic heart around by itself. The discussions that the girls in this club had and the acceptance of my hesitation just kind of opened the gate of potential for me to really let God back into my life.
Now, I'm not saying I'm a full on believer. I very much still have my doubts and unwillingness to accept that I can let my life control be in the hands of someone that at times feels mythological. However, I do bring it up because one of the points from this book, is that when you feel alone, emotionally or physically, there is one person that is always on your side. There is one person that truly knows you the way you know yourself and is your biggest cheerleader even on the days you don't believe in yourself.
Reflecting on that message, I've felt a lot better about spending time without others people being involved. I have less anxiety over being alone and it's rejuvenated my spirit in a way that I feel more comfortable overall with my adjustment to this new chapter in my life. I've always believed and resented that timing is everything and I do think things happen for a reason. In my life at this point, I can definitely say being involved with this book club and reading this particular book have happened at the absolute right time.
Even if you aren't religious, I hope that you can take away a sliver of peace reading this post. Regardless of whether you believe that God is real, know that there is a person in your life who does care and a person who will be affected if anything should happen to you. Regardless of what you may think, there is someone who is rooting for you even on your darkest days. For we are never truly alone. Each day, there is someone out there thinking about you.
It's funny reader, I really didn't want to bring religion into this blog at all when I made it. I actually despise the people who force religion down others throats and try to convert every living soul on the planet to their beliefs, so don't expect a lot of posts like this from me. Again, this is just something I'm experiencing in my life and I needed an outlet. I respect whatever you choose to believe or not believe in so please also be respectful of my life and my journey.
Thank you again for making it through another one. Short stories are not in my nature so I really do appreciate if you made it this far. You da real MVP! ;) Hopefully sooner, but no guarantees about when I'll be back so until next time! Don't forget to make someone smile today. :) You might never know how badly they need it.
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A millennial with a need for an outlet. I write about whatever is inspiring me in the moment.