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Author Topic: Can't seem to fit in  (Read 19541 times)
outlaw393
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« Topic Start: May 10, 2011, 11:07:18 pm »

I recently returned from a 2 day church trip. And while it has increased my faith a little bit, the biggest thing it has made me realize - once again - is that I don't fit in with my current denomination.

I have been in the Pentecostal (UPCI) church for over 3 years. To me they are too emotional (or maybe I'm not emotional enough) when they worship. I tend to doubt their doctrine about the holy spirit.

There are other differences between what I believe and what they believe. But most of all I am BORED with Pentecostalism AND I feel like I don't fit in.

I'm thinking it's time to move upwards and onwards. I crave a more traditional church (like the Lutheran church I was born and raised in, but not exactly like it). I am thinking about Catholicism again.

Personally I think I should quit bothering thinking about converting to this religion/denomination and that. About 2 months ago I was considering converting to Judaism.

I'm sick and tired of seeking. It got old. A few years ago.  Sad
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« Reply #1: May 10, 2011, 11:57:26 pm »

I recently returned from a 2 day church trip. And while it has increased my faith a little bit, the biggest thing it has made me realize - once again - is that I don't fit in with my current denomination.

One thing that strikes me while reading your comments is that while leaving one religion and joining another are often seen as coming at the same time, they're not actually the same thing. When I was looking at stopping being Catholic, I actually deliberately took some time to step away from that before diving into that (about 18 months, which included a major move.) It's one of the best decisions I ever made.

In the intervening time, I thought a lot about what I wanted out of a religion and out of my religious community. Did I want structured high-ritual approaches as part of the practice? Yes (which leaves out a number of Protestant denominations).

Did I want a religion where I could find like minded people in most places I'd be likely to live? Yes. (Though in the case of my eventual path, it's part of why I was so set on getting the skills to be a group leader and teacher early on, because in a small Pagan trad, that's the only way you can reasonably build a group of the kind you want. But at least it's possible.)

What theological and philosophical approaches did I care about? (Strongly deist - I'm a polytheist, but I could see being very happy in a henotheistic model where the church I attended was monotheistic) And so on and so forth.

[Your questions are very likely to be different than mine, of course - but the project of figuring out what questions to ask can be very informative.]

And then I went and tried a bunch of stuff. I actually settled on Paganism of some form relatively early in the process - not so much as the 'this is it' but the 'this seems the most sensible thing to explore first', because of complications with pieces of what mattered to me with both the other most probable choices (oddly enough: Reform Judaism and the Society of Friends.)

I've always been a pretty big fan of comparative religion reading and discussion, so I was already pretty aware of the options (and the realistic options as described by people who valued them and practiced them, not media-versions of those religions), but if I were starting from square one now, I'd aim at spending a lot of time poking around the Speaking of Faith/Being websites, and see what caught my attention. (It's an awesome show, and she gets into fascinating little corners of all sorts of religious belief and practice - you can listen to the shows or look at archived materials including transcripts, resources, etc. at http://being.publicradio.org/index.shtml)

And then, I went and tried things out. I went to a few public rituals, and figured out which things worked for me, and which didn't, and which things mostly didn't because of the setting, but I thought that thing in a smaller group could be great. (20 minute closed-eye meditation in a group of 50 people that included a very cranky five year old? Not my thing. But I got enough from it to figure that maybe a longer meditation in a small group that involved less cranky loud commentary on the unfairness of the world might be pretty cool.)
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« Reply #2: May 11, 2011, 12:01:20 am »



There are a lot of options - if you like the ritual and liturgy of Catholicism, you may like an Episcopal church (they tend to be liberal - more welcoming to gays, more women in higher positions, et cetera, than the Catholic faith, while having a similar approach to liturgy.

Have you checked out other denominations in your area? Baptist churches can be great for "feeling" without being as demonstrative as the Pentecostals. (Naturally, that's a generalization that doesn't always hold true, so your mileage may vary.)

You might also like a Quaker fellowship (Society of Friends) - some Meetings are more like the churches most are used to, others are very different. From what you're saying, a silent Meeting might not be a good fit for you and you would want to look for a Liberal Quaker meeting, which may have more of the "churchy" elements. (The Conservative Friends eschew pomp and trappings of all kinds.)

Another possibility is to check out a Unitarian Universalist congregation, which supports and encourages individual spiritual seeking within a community of shared values. It is a really fantastic place for those who are seeking and defining their spirituality. It's not exactly a "traditional church" like you are looking for, but I always always recommend it to those who are confused, seeking, curious, feeling out of place.

Judaism is also an option, if you don't believe that Jesus was the Messiah. If you do, and if you do not want to follow at least most contemporary Jewish laws, then it probably isn't a great fit. If you love the Laws, but continue to believe in Jesus as the Christ, you might want to look into Messianic or Torah Observant Christianity. It's not exactly popular (among Christians or Jews) but it can be a wonderful path. Torah Observant Christians tend to, in my experience, be quite conservative, so that would be something to consider.

What is it about the Lutheran church that you enjoy? What beliefs are most important to you?

Another thing I would like to point out is that you are, according to the little thingy on your profile there, 22 years old. I mean this in all respect for where you're at: you're supposed to be confused. You're not supposed to have it all figured out. When I was 22 I was exactly where you're at. (Heck, when I was 32 I was having another religious crisis and had to sort it all out all over again!) It's a GOOD THING. Knowing you don't have all the answers is part of being a full-fledged adult. Try embracing it. And even though I'm not Christian anymore, I'm going to fall back on that language: trust God. He will lead you, He'll put you where he needs you to be.  What if He doesn't want you to be settled somewhere right now? Perhaps this wandering in the desert is exactly where you're supposed to be right now? Embrace it. Enjoy the uncertainty. Rely on what faith you do have to sort out the rest in due time. Having faith doesn't mean having answers; it means trusting that God knows the answers, and going with that.  
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« Reply #3: May 11, 2011, 12:02:53 am »



And this might be goofy, but have you taken the Beliefnet quiz? I can get a link for you if you haven't. I found it helpful during times of change, for clarifying my beliefs and giving me a bit of direction for some exploring. It's not prescriptive, but it can be helpful as a jumping off point.
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« Reply #4: May 11, 2011, 01:48:21 am »

There are a lot of options - if you like the ritual and liturgy of Catholicism, you may like an Episcopal church (they tend to be liberal - more welcoming to gays, more women in higher positions, et cetera, than the Catholic faith, while having a similar approach to liturgy.

Have you checked out other denominations in your area? Baptist churches can be great for "feeling" without being as demonstrative as the Pentecostals. (Naturally, that's a generalization that doesn't always hold true, so your mileage may vary.)

You might also like a Quaker fellowship (Society of Friends) - some Meetings are more like the churches most are used to, others are very different. From what you're saying, a silent Meeting might not be a good fit for you and you would want to look for a Liberal Quaker meeting, which may have more of the "churchy" elements. (The Conservative Friends eschew pomp and trappings of all kinds.)

Another possibility is to check out a Unitarian Universalist congregation, which supports and encourages individual spiritual seeking within a community of shared values. It is a really fantastic place for those who are seeking and defining their spirituality. It's not exactly a "traditional church" like you are looking for, but I always always recommend it to those who are confused, seeking, curious, feeling out of place.

Judaism is also an option, if you don't believe that Jesus was the Messiah. If you do, and if you do not want to follow at least most contemporary Jewish laws, then it probably isn't a great fit. If you love the Laws, but continue to believe in Jesus as the Christ, you might want to look into Messianic or Torah Observant Christianity. It's not exactly popular (among Christians or Jews) but it can be a wonderful path. Torah Observant Christians tend to, in my experience, be quite conservative, so that would be something to consider.

What is it about the Lutheran church that you enjoy? What beliefs are most important to you?

Another thing I would like to point out is that you are, according to the little thingy on your profile there, 22 years old. I mean this in all respect for where you're at: you're supposed to be confused. You're not supposed to have it all figured out. When I was 22 I was exactly where you're at. (Heck, when I was 32 I was having another religious crisis and had to sort it all out all over again!) It's a GOOD THING. Knowing you don't have all the answers is part of being a full-fledged adult. Try embracing it. And even though I'm not Christian anymore, I'm going to fall back on that language: trust God. He will lead you, He'll put you where he needs you to be.  What if He doesn't want you to be settled somewhere right now? Perhaps this wandering in the desert is exactly where you're supposed to be right now? Embrace it. Enjoy the uncertainty. Rely on what faith you do have to sort out the rest in due time. Having faith doesn't mean having answers; it means trusting that God knows the answers, and going with that.  

I am 27 years old. (not sure where you got 22, as my birth year is correct on my profile) But I did start my search about five years ago so it still fits.  Grin

I left the Lutheran church 3 years ago to convert to Pentecostalism. Mostly because I found the church to be devoid of any presence of God, and it didn't help my faith. When I converted, my faith was dying, and the conversion revived it.

And yes, to answer your following question, I have taken the Beliefnet quiz a thousand times. I usually get Neo Pagan. Which is no help. I was into Asatru for a while, as Odin is supposedly my Patron. I even took his mark. But now I don't think he could care less. And likewise I haven't dealt with him in quite a while. What's real creepy is one time I channeled him (Yes, I believe I can do that) and he said, "You are still mine."  Shocked

During my trip all I could do was sit in my chair and watch all these women (it was a ladies retreat) dance and cry and yell. It was a nice show. But it didn't help me. None of it affected me. I was just sitting there gently shaking my head. I was astonished how emotional they are. I'm stoic. I don't believe in showing all of my emotions.

Judaism and UU aren't options. I still have faith in Christ, and there are absolutely no UU churches near me. Also they are much too liberal for my tastes.

Regarding Catholicism, I already share a good chunk of their beliefs, and currently I enjoy praying the rosary, it brings me a great deal of peace. Though I have no courage to convert, so I doubt it'll ever come to fruition.
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« Reply #5: May 11, 2011, 02:03:20 am »


I don't know where I got 22 either... I don't get enough sleep, is my only excuse! Sorry! Have you tried other Lutheran churches, maybe in the town over, if you're not in a very rural area? Sometimes from one congregation to another there can be a world of difference.

Why don't you feel that conversion to Catholicism is right for you? Is there family resistance? Could you attend Mass at other times during the week, without giving up the Sunday services at your current church? That might be a way to explore that without making any commitments. It seems that for whatever reason, that's what's appealing to your right now, so my instinct is to say pursue it and see what happens. If it still isn't sitting right with you, like I said, an Episcopal church might be a good fit (unless that's too liberal for you as well?) or an Orthodox church.

I don't know what's going on with Odin there -- perhaps you need to do a ritual of some kind to leave him? Maybe your ties there are clouding your mind in spiritual matters?
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« Reply #6: May 11, 2011, 01:18:52 pm »

I don't know where I got 22 either... I don't get enough sleep, is my only excuse! Sorry! Have you tried other Lutheran churches, maybe in the town over, if you're not in a very rural area? Sometimes from one congregation to another there can be a world of difference.

Why don't you feel that conversion to Catholicism is right for you? Is there family resistance? Could you attend Mass at other times during the week, without giving up the Sunday services at your current church? That might be a way to explore that without making any commitments. It seems that for whatever reason, that's what's appealing to your right now, so my instinct is to say pursue it and see what happens. If it still isn't sitting right with you, like I said, an Episcopal church might be a good fit (unless that's too liberal for you as well?) or an Orthodox church.

I don't know what's going on with Odin there -- perhaps you need to do a ritual of some kind to leave him? Maybe your ties there are clouding your mind in spiritual matters?

I honestly am done with being Lutheran. I am not interested in driving all over town looking at churches - when I'm not interested and gas is still four bucks a gallon.

The last time I attended mass - with a Catholic friend in tow - the service was so entirely alien to me, it made things very awkward. And there seems to be some family resistance. My mother for example seems to be against the idea. When I converted to Pentecostalism she said something like, "well at least you didn't become Catholic or Mormon.".
I'm not sure what problem she has with it, after all her brother - my uncle - converted to Catholicism when he married his wife. And all their kids, and their side of the family is entirely Catholic. So I figure I could get sponsorship from them if I needed it. And I wouldn't be attending any more masses without going through the RCIA - Roman Catholic Initiation for Adults - the classes I would need to go through to convert.

Regarding Odin, there is really no way for me to be happily Asatru. There are no pagan groups of any kind here in Central Wisconsin. And being solo on a path just isn't going to happen. I don't like being alone at all. Not to mention I've tried leaving Christianity multiple times, and have just found myself pulled right back in.
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« Reply #7: May 11, 2011, 01:22:52 pm »

I honestly am done with being Lutheran. I am not interested in driving all over town looking at churches - when I'm not interested and gas is still four bucks a gallon.

The last time I attended mass - with a Catholic friend in tow - the service was so entirely alien to me, it made things very awkward. And there seems to be some family resistance. My mother for example seems to be against the idea. When I converted to Pentecostalism she said something like, "well at least you didn't become Catholic or Mormon.".
I'm not sure what problem she has with it, after all her brother - my uncle - converted to Catholicism when he married his wife. And all their kids, and their side of the family is entirely Catholic. So I figure I could get sponsorship from them if I needed it. And I wouldn't be attending any more masses without going through the RCIA - Roman Catholic Initiation for Adults - the classes I would need to go through to convert.

Regarding Odin, there is really no way for me to be happily Asatru. There are no pagan groups of any kind here in Central Wisconsin. And being solo on a path just isn't going to happen. I don't like being alone at all. Not to mention I've tried leaving Christianity multiple times, and have just found myself pulled right back in.

So I think I'm stuck with Odin. As I said, I took his mark. I have no problem with him being around. I just wish if he really wanted a relationship with me, he'd put in a little more effort than what he is now - which is none. He reminds me of a distant father that doesn't really care about his children.  Sad

In the meantime I am going to silently leave the Pentecostal church. I didn't go last Sunday. After the trip I have no reason to go back...
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« Reply #8: May 11, 2011, 02:36:10 pm »

So I think I'm stuck with Odin.

It might be worth thinking about what this means from a practical standpoint.  You say he isn't giving you much attention.  In my brain I'm thinking:  "Well, then he must not be demanding much of you."   

Does he want a shrine?  Offerings?  Does he want you to do some sort of mundane work in His name?  Is he asking you to avoid worshipping other Gods?

If he's neither making demands nor offering support, the dedication doesn't mean all that much.  If he's making demands without offering anything in return, then you might think about doing an un-dedication ritual of sorts.  Dedication to a God should offer some benefit, even if it's just the satisfaction of doing worthwhile service for that God. 

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« Reply #9: May 11, 2011, 03:39:22 pm »

It might be worth thinking about what this means from a practical standpoint.  You say he isn't giving you much attention.  In my brain I'm thinking:  "Well, then he must not be demanding much of you."   

Does he want a shrine?  Offerings?  Does he want you to do some sort of mundane work in His name?  Is he asking you to avoid worshipping other Gods?

If he's neither making demands nor offering support, the dedication doesn't mean all that much.  If he's making demands without offering anything in return, then you might think about doing an un-dedication ritual of sorts.  Dedication to a God should offer some benefit, even if it's just the satisfaction of doing worthwhile service for that God. 



He's not doing anything. Not offering anything and not asking for anything. He really doesn't seem to care either way. And the thing is, he doesn't really speak to me all that much (like in dreams and such).
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« Reply #10: May 11, 2011, 05:11:20 pm »

He's not doing anything. Not offering anything and not asking for anything. He really doesn't seem to care either way. And the thing is, he doesn't really speak to me all that much (like in dreams and such).

Remember that deity interaction can occur a variety of ways and for the most part, they aren't all that spectacular. I've been a Pagan well over 4 years and I've still only had one really powerful communication with a deity. One of the hardest things about being an ex-Christian is understanding that the relationship you can have with your deities will not necessarily take the same form as that of your birth faith.
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« Reply #11: May 11, 2011, 06:51:31 pm »

Remember that deity interaction can occur a variety of ways and for the most part, they aren't all that spectacular. I've been a Pagan well over 4 years and I've still only had one really powerful communication with a deity. One of the hardest things about being an ex-Christian is understanding that the relationship you can have with your deities will not necessarily take the same form as that of your birth faith.

But I'm having NO interaction whatsoever. And I've never had any "powerful" encounters. No pagan gods seem to care enough about me to even show up. So I've sorta given up.
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« Reply #12: May 11, 2011, 09:06:33 pm »

But I'm having NO interaction whatsoever. And I've never had any "powerful" encounters. No pagan gods seem to care enough about me to even show up. So I've sorta given up.

That's true for some people (and sometimes true for quite a while.) It has a lot to do in common with making new friends: sometimes people show up in your life fast. But sometimes, you need to make space in a new way for a new part of your life. That isn't easy.

I know there isn't *tons* going on in central Wisconsin, but if you're able to drive to Baraboo there's a Pagan festival there for a week every summer that has some Asatru attending, I believe, and there're several groups near Madison and Milwaukee. And a variety of other things that might be worth checking out if you want to do one more try at the Pagan side.

Incidentally: RCIA = Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, not Roman Catholic. It's a common thing people assume, but it's actually treated as a process of structured initiatory work - actually, not that disssimilar from the same general kinds of things that get covered in someone looking to initiate with a Wiccan tradition: how things fit together, why they work that way, what the values are, where those come from, etc. (I went through RCIA myself as a teen (when my parents rejoined the Catholic church after a long time away), before going off to be Pagan myself, and I actually just went to the Easter Vigil to support a friend becoming Catholic this Easter. Still love the ritual, don't love the limits the church-at-large puts on what I can do as a religious leader, basically.)

Anyway, if you *do* want to do RCIA, it doesn't usually start until late summer/early fall, so you might want to contact your local parish and see if they want to suggest anything that might help you decide if you want to commit to that process. They have some great resources and things to read (that explain what's going on), might be able to connect you to a mentor who could help, things like that. However, they are probably going to want you to try going to Mass some on your own (not taking communion, but taking things in, learning how things fit together) because you'll need to decide if it's worth making the time and energy commitment to RCIA.
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« Reply #13: May 11, 2011, 09:20:24 pm »

That's true for some people (and sometimes true for quite a while.) It has a lot to do in common with making new friends: sometimes people show up in your life fast. But sometimes, you need to make space in a new way for a new part of your life. That isn't easy.

I know there isn't *tons* going on in central Wisconsin, but if you're able to drive to Baraboo there's a Pagan festival there for a week every summer that has some Asatru attending, I believe, and there're several groups near Madison and Milwaukee. And a variety of other things that might be worth checking out if you want to do one more try at the Pagan side.

Incidentally: RCIA = Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, not Roman Catholic. It's a common thing people assume, but it's actually treated as a process of structured initiatory work - actually, not that disssimilar from the same general kinds of things that get covered in someone looking to initiate with a Wiccan tradition: how things fit together, why they work that way, what the values are, where those come from, etc. (I went through RCIA myself as a teen (when my parents rejoined the Catholic church after a long time away), before going off to be Pagan myself, and I actually just went to the Easter Vigil to support a friend becoming Catholic this Easter. Still love the ritual, don't love the limits the church-at-large puts on what I can do as a religious leader, basically.)

Anyway, if you *do* want to do RCIA, it doesn't usually start until late summer/early fall, so you might want to contact your local parish and see if they want to suggest anything that might help you decide if you want to commit to that process. They have some great resources and things to read (that explain what's going on), might be able to connect you to a mentor who could help, things like that. However, they are probably going to want you to try going to Mass some on your own (not taking communion, but taking things in, learning how things fit together) because you'll need to decide if it's worth making the time and energy commitment to RCIA.

I went to mass once, and it was alien then. I don't expect it to be any less alien this time.  Wink
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« Reply #14: May 11, 2011, 09:34:16 pm »

I went to mass once, and it was alien then. I don't expect it to be any less alien this time.  Wink

Anything is going to feel alien when it's not what you're used to; it might be that if given a chance, that feeling would dissipate. However, even though you said that Catholicism appeals to you and you agree with much of the belief, it does not seem like you feel very drawn to it in further replies. There's something about it that you like, though?

You don't like very liberal churches; you don't enjoy an overly demonstrative denomination, but also don't want one that feels too sanitized (not enough Spirit). Catholic mass did not resonate with you. You feel connected to Odin, but don't feel a connection to him, and don't want to follow a path that includes him (or at least not one that denies Christ.) Is that about right?

Can you put your finger on what it is about Catholicism that does appeal to you, even if you don't think it's right for you?
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~*~Colleen~*~
When I'm sad, I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead.
http://colleenrachelle.livejournal.com/
"Let's not confuse your inability to comprehend what I do with my ability to do it."

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