Me and God?

So whenever I touch on faith and my past church conflicts on the blog, I get a lot of e-mails—most of them really kind—from readers who are interested and/or concerned.

Some sound like: “What the hell happened in your faith past?”

Some sound like: “Honey, run to Jesus and stop pushing him away. You’re going to lose your chance.”

And most sound like: “My faith brings me so much peace in my life. I am praying for you. I’m so sorry your past has presented issues with God. I hope you figure it out. God loves you so much. Just the way you are.” These ones feel like a hug.

I will write more about my faith past. I am writing a lot about it off line. I realized after Bloom, many have conflicting faith pasts.

It is hard to write about because it involves people. People I love. People who read this blog. People who loved me and offered me a lot of good and support as well as their version of faith. But I was told a lot of things about God that I don’t think are true anymore, and not only do I think they’re not true, I think they are very damaging. I realize I have to fight tendencies that make me want to view myself and the rest of the world in a skewed way, due to ten years of input and reactive behavior to that input. And all the people who were involved in teaching me this—I still love them. We are human, we make mistakes.

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Last night’s moon.  Feel’s fitting to include.

The basis of what I believed for a very long time, along with a lot of weird stuff that went along with it, was that God commanded and demanded us to be PERFECT, no exceptions. “Examine yourself” was a phrase frequently thrown around, and I’m not talking a shower breast exam. If there was sin, sinful feelings, sin-like thoughts, anything that resembled sin (“even if you don’t sin but you’re thinking about sin,” we were told), you were going to hell. So, in order to please God, we were basically trained to become professional Sinbusters, constantly examining our thoughts and everything we did to make sure we weren’t sinning. It was exhausting. There was lots of repenting, might I add. For years, it was a completely normal thing for me to walk into the house, call “Is anybody home?” and if someone didn’t answer within twenty seconds, I was immediately paralyzed with fear that the rapture came and I didn’t go. Beginning around nine years old. I had countless nightmares that I was left after the rapture or that I died in a car accident and went to hell. Because of that one little feeling of resentment or jealousy or unkindness I felt.

A lady once stood up in our church and repented to the entire congregation, kids included, for her sin. You want to know what her sin was? Going to a garage sale, seeing a jar of buttons for a dollar and buying them. Why, do you ask that’s a sin? Because she saw another lady eyeing them and she bought them anyway. I guess it was unkind not to offer them to the other lady who wanted them. Not only unkind but SIN. Sin that sends you to hell. And when people heard this, they shook their heads and said “Amen” and applauded her for her stellar sin detection skills—a Class 1 Sinbuster (okay, we didn’t really call them that). And I remember even at twelve years old, listening to this story and thinking WHAT. THE. HELL. But then I repented later for thinking “What the Hell” because I didn’t want to go to hell. When hell was described in sermons where children were present, nothing was held back. “Gnashing of teeth” was a common phrase because somewhere in the Bible it says that about the people who burn there. And we were told that it’s so hot and miserable and tortuous that people BEG God to forgive them, but NEVER. They were already warned, it’s over. It was important that we knew that time never ends in hell. As a kid, I’d ask things like “even longer than 100 years?” and be answered with things like “100 times 100. Time NEVER ends in hell.” Imagine going there all over a jar of frickin’ buttons. In all fairness, we knew that heaven never ended either. This was supposed to be a really exciting fact, but A: the hell thing kind of took over, and B: heaven was described as endless sitting around listening to Jesus teach and singing for hours, and—well, that sounds kind of boring, even now.

This is one among hundreds of stories like it. Ten years of repenting, waking up with sweaty palms and a racing heart from rapture nightmares. I was never good enough for God, and I knew it. I couldn’t shut off sinful thoughts and while I smiled and told all the church people when they asked (and they did) that I was Tony-the-Tiger Grrreeeeeaaat with God, I knew inside that I was doomed for hell.

When we were feeling the energy to extend beyond our own heart examinations, we took it upon ourselves to do it for others too—telling people when they were in sin. Separating from them. Cutting off anyone who “called themself a Christian” but lived otherwise according to our superhuman standards. We cut my cousins out of my life. My grandparents. I didn’t see my dad for four years because he was gay, gay was wrong and 1 Corinthians says, “put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” It also says you couldn’t eat with these people. So we didn’t. One time, when we were still seeing my dad, we went to a restaurant and sat at a different table—just me and my siblings—while my dad sat alone in a booth behind us. I was nine.

All the things that could send you to hell—I realize now that they are the things that make us human. Imagine. Going to hell for being human. So you had to be something better than human, a perfect subspecies. I carry remnants of these feelings today. As if we don’t have enough guilt to deal with in motherhood and trying to do it all. It’s okay to be human, I say to myself a lot. It’s okay to be human. If you need to know this, I’m your girl.

I get hung up on wanting to know the answers to things I might never know, but I’m okay. Me and God? We’re good, we’re getting there, and sometimes, many times, we are beyond good–a peaceful, settling, oh-so-loving “so this is what it’s supposed to feel like.” As far as Jesus and the Bible and all that other stuff—well, I don’t know. Telling me to run to Jesus is like telling a beaten dog he should come out and trust people. I heard a song the other day that said “Get out of the box and come into the clear,” and I think that’s a good description for where I am. I don’t ever want to be in a box when it comes to anything in my life. There’s a giant clearing around it, and it’s full of daisies and sunflowers and grass as far as you can see. There are so many more experiences to learn and grow in the clearing than I could ever find in the claustrophobia trap of the box. I think God is in the clearing. And I know he wants me to run around and find him in the many places he exists. It’s a challenge.

Our old church has pretty much dissipated. I don’t see “church” now. I see humans. Humans who make mistakes and get confused sometimes. I may not have always felt that God loved me, but I did feel love from people. And I always felt loved and accepted by my parents.

I realize that my church past is a unique situation, and I’m so glad there are churches around the world that do so much good. Can you imagine a world without church? We’d lose a lot of comfort, a lot of good and a lot of love for people who need it. I’m so glad there are churches.

The thing about God that I hang on to the most? It’s being loved simply for existing. I think that’s a pretty powerful thing.

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As for the rest, I’m going to take this broken glass and glue the shards together to make some amazing stained glass windows. I’m going to build a cathedral. Actually, I think I’ll just shoot for a little hillside chapel. With lots of love. And a nice mix of dandelions and daisies on the hill. So much better than a cathedral.

The regular blog will resume next week. It was ETST Deep Week. Kind of like Shark Week but with less blood.

Oh, and HAPPY FRIDAY! (confetti, confetti, confetti!!!)

Comments

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  1. It’s a good thing to admit a struggle in this area. I struggle in this area. I know what I believe and why I believe it but it’s hard to remind myself that my goal is not to be perfect in the world’s eyes. It’s to be redeemed in the eyes of my Savior.

  2. I like your writing best when you make yourself vulnerable like this. Deep is good, and life is an eternal Shark Week. Never feel like you have to hold this back and resume to regular blogging. Your readers will always support you when you are raw and vulnerable.

  3. I am sorry that you had such negative religion shoved at you so young. While sin and hell talks/sermons have their place and should be discussed occasionally, I don’t agree that it should be the only doctrin presented and done over and over again. What about God’s grace? It is just as important to talk about as sin and hell. What about serving others? That is a very important part of being a human and a Christian. We can never bee perfect people and we can never be worthy of God’s sacrifice for our sins. My advice would be to try re-reading the New Testament only with more of an open heart and mind and see where God leads you. There is so much positive and life applicable stuff in the NT vs. the Old.

  4. Kelli, I think you’ve captured more of the gist of Jesus in this blog than many Christians “get” in a lifetime of church. “Love God and love neighbor” were Jesus’ words and you’ve nailed it here. Something tells me you’re a whole lot closer than you may realize to having this faith thing settled in your heart! Though you’re not always proclaiming it so directly, your words always have that “love others” lean to them. Peace for your journey, Julie (a Tawas girl who’s been reading for 3+ years)

  5. Thank you for sharing. Many of us are going through our own faith stories, whether they involve struggle or victory or both hand in hand. By the way, just wanted to tell you that last night was Moon Festival (celebrated in Asia) and when the moon is said to be the brightest in the year. =) I love your picture.

  6. I had a very similar childhood and despite all those yrs in a VERY small, protected fundamentalist education I don’t attend church. I have angst against organized religion. Can one up you that we picked abortion clinics monthly as part of our middle, high school community service hours. My kids are a little older 4-11 and I often reflect on the difference between living a moral life and a church life. I think there are many of us very scared from over zealous interpretation of scripture. Well intentioned people who love us and are still a part of our lives. I believe we have a special place in God’s eyes. We’re the wounded by those speaking his name the loudest. We get a little more grace when it comes to matters of not attending church, etc.

  7. Thank you for sharing this with us. What you went through was all kinds of messed up. I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, and only in the last couple of years have my eyes really been opened to how many people have suffered deeply at the hands of the Church. People whose love for God and desire to do the right things were used against them – and many times those who did the harming were trying to do the right things too. We ALL need so much grace. Thankfully God meets us in those scarred places and His grace never, ever runs out. If I didn’t believe that, I don’t know what I’d do.

  8. I have really enjoyed your blog over the past few years. I have moved from Chicago, to England to Grenada to NY with 2 small children and this has been a bit of American conection for me.
    I would highly recommend: “One Thousand gifts” You both have a beautiful writing style and a focus on appreciating the little things in life.
    http://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-Gifts-Fully-Right/dp/0310321913/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379687032&sr=8-1&keywords=one+thousand+gifts

    She also has a christmas one out called “The Greatest Gift”

  9. I struggle with many of these same thoughts. It can be so overwhelming at times. I have vivid memories of sitting in pews and thinking what the Hell as a child also. Does something to you, sticks with you and molds you in ways you don’t want to be molded.

  10. God Is Love.

  11. I’m not a good writer, but reading your ideas on faith always gives me the though of “I’m not alone.” No, I didn’t grow up in a church like that, but like you I’ve felt very wary of God for the past 10 years. I want to want him, but I’ve also been hurt in the past and don’t know who to trust anymore. I believe that being a good person is the best I can do – for now – and that hopefully that’s enough for Him. <3 Thanks for sharing.

  12. Thanks for sharing this…I feel the same way. The things I was taught about God, Jesus and the Bible are the very things that drove me away and changed my beliefs. My little sister died tragically two months before her 12th birthday and I just knew we had “prayed enough” to keep her alive…we didn’t. I started struggling with my beliefs then and, now, 28 years later, I still feel the same. People are always saying these same things to me…they are praying for me. I feel like, if “God” wants me to love him, then I will, right? I can’t make myself believe in or love something just because I “should”. I’m a good person, I’m very generous and I have a great life…sometimes it’s just all about Karma. Maybe I’ll wake up one day and see the “clearing”, but until then, I’m not going to dwell on it. My very own Mother doesn’t speak to be anymore…all because of what her religion has “taught” her. Happy Friday!

  13. I am so sorry that your experiences have hurt you in such deep ways. Even more so is how it probably continues to be painful when people tell you to just let it all go and just Trust God. Pain isn’t that easy to just let go of….even when we want to do it. And judgement for not being where someone else in their walk is probably more damaging than what people realize. That said. I’m so thankful you are processing this in writing. It appears to be therapeutic for not only yourself, but I think it helps others see the world in different eyes. I’m sure this will continue to be something you need to process for quite sometime. I encourage you to do so with some safe people (read that book!) where you can freely share your feelings and experiences sans unnecessary (though well intended I’m sure) feedback.

  14. I grew up in a church just like this, unfortunately I stayed until I was 40 when I realized it was all batshit crazy and left. I left any and all religion behind, and am so much happier now. I am human and have bad days, but that horrible guilt and fear is gone. I am glad you are finding a way to still believe, I read your Dad’s instagram, and I love the way he believes in God. So unlike the god I feared. I will admit to being extremely bitter about Christianity in general, I have to be careful not to lump all Christians together. There are good and kind people and there are mean and cruel people. I have come to believe that religion really plays no part in how good or bad people are, it just gives not so nice people a supreme authority to put behind their nastiness.

  15. The church I grew up in was so much like your church. One time a lady told me I wasn’t important because my Dad wasn’t a deacon. I remember thinking that God couldn’t possibly feel that way about me not being important because my Daddy wasn’t a deacon. Of course I asked him on the way home from church to please, please, PLEASE become a deacon.

    When I went to college (Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, PA) I was totally frowned upon because everyone knew that all the REAL Christian kids went to Bob Jones University. I had teachers tell me that I was turning my back on God for going to a liberal Christian college. I remember the first chapel at BBC and thinking, ‘HOLY COW, these people are singing really rocky songs and I am so much better than this. I have to get out.’ And then, the preacher talked and shared and I remember thinking, “It is ok to sing songs that are not hymns. It is ok to worship God differently than the Baptist Church down the street. God loves us however we worship.’

    I changed that year. My whole view of God and Christianity changed. I am so thankful.

    I am glad you share your story and your challenges. Thanks for being open and honest.

    Love, Becky

  16. Oh my… I want to hug you; especially the child in you that grew up in that atmosphere.. I love that you are making beautiful stained glass from the shards. My mother lived a similar church life and early on saw the flawed reasoning in what she was taught. We were never taken to a church, she taught us right from wrong in daily life, in a simple way, and that God loves us “warts and all”. She was very accepting of people, their mistakes and me. I hope you see your father now.

  17. I enjoy your writing & the blog most when you’re “deep”. These are the kind of posts that drew me into your blog in the first place.

  18. Thanks for sharing this with us. I don’t know much when it comes to religion. The only belief that I subscribe to is that God is love – uncompromising, boundless love.

  19. Kelle, thank you for just being you. You are so articulately endearing. Your thoughts and feelings come out so well. I know that in the great wide interwebs, these things are hard to discuss because it can be met with big backlash, just for being who we are and sharing our thoughts and feelings. I’ve struggled with so many of these things all my life – we weren’t raised as harsh as others, but we had certain things engrained in us. I began to disagree when I was a young teen. And I fought through years of just claiming to be “Christian” to avoid stigmas and stereotypes and be drug into conversations or lectures or judgments. Oh, the judgments. And then a few years ago, I read about Humanism. And it was then that I really identified with something. I am 100% about being who I am, to my people, believing in everyone for all of their individualities, just trying to be a good, loving, caring, compassionate person every single day. I love people that are so strong in their faith and their lives are full and overflowing. But I have my faith too, it’s not in God or Jesus or any other higher being. It’s in myself, to be the best me that I can, to love my family and friends and to guide and nurture and appreciate. We all have different paths to follow, some continue on the path that their parents showed them, some stray a little, some stray a lot. But in the end, it is ours to own, no matter how we got there. We are given just one life. We do the best we can with it however we see fit. We shouldn’t be judged on it by anyone but ourselves. You keep being an awesome you. And awesome mom and wife and friend and daughter. You are wise and adoring. You are strong and sensitive. You are you. I really like YOU just the way you are. :)

  20. I just wanted to thrown in one thought. I never truly understood God’s love until I had children. The Bible calls God our Father, and Jesus is His Son (I’m sure you know but hear me out). As God’s children (those who have asked forgiveness of sins and trusting only His death on the cross as the punishment for those sins and the only way for our sins to be forgiven, thus allowing us to be able to go to Heaven) He has an incredible love for us. I would never allow my child to die for someone. But God allowed His Son to die for people that weren’t even created yet. People he knew would exist in the future, but He didn’t even know yet. But just like you don’t expect your children to be perfect, God does not expect us to be perfect. We all sin, God knows that. But just like if your children intentionally sinned against you (disobeying, etc., whatever it is) it creates a wall between you. The only way to break down that barrier is to ask forgiveness, apologize, or however you approach it in your house. Same with God. If I’ve sinned (and all sins is against God, who is perfect) then I create a wall between me and God. That doesn’t mean He cannot help me, hear me, love me. That means that our relationship isn’t what it could and should be. The Bible says that we were created to bring glory to God and have fellowship with Him. By sinning we break that fellowship, even if only slightly. So it should not be our goal to necessarily be perfect (no one is) but we should strive to do what is right and confess (apologize/ask forgiveness) when we “mess up” so that we can have the relationship with God that He wants. Colossians 1 says that God should be supreme and all we do should point others to Him. That should be our goal in life because of what God and His Son Jesus have done for us. If someone saved your life, you’d be willing to do almost anything for them, right? Jesus died for you so that you would not have to experience Hell. The least we can do is live a life that pleases Him and points other to Him. I hope you find your way in this faith journey. I’m sorry you had the experience you did, but God orchestrated your journey and perhaps this is His way of having you search out what you believe.

  21. I really admire how open and honest you are, and always thoroughly enjoy reading your blog.

    This may interest you: http://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/wp20131101/

  22. Thanks for your from the heart, honest post Kelle. I didn’t grow up in a religious family, a good friend of my Mums convinced her to let my brothers and I attended church with her a few times when we were pre teens so we could see what it was all about but honestly I think I have always been an atheist. That is not to say I don’t believe in anything! I have faith in my beautiful fiance and my family and friends. My Mum has two sisters who became christians in their early 20’s and barely speak to their children or families (they judge so harshly) and one has even had two sons in an out of jail and I believe this to be because her faith is too much in her church rather than being there and supporting her loved ones. I am the oldest of 5, none of whom are religious except for the faith we have in each other. We are the closest siblings I know and we all strive to do well and have good morals. I don’t think I believe in heaven and hell.. but if we are going to hell at least my immediate family will be there together!

  23. I don’t think your struggles are all that unique. A lot of people have been “church hurt.” I have. In fact, I could have authored this blog post.

    But I tell you…I’m not sure that I would change my past. In spite of…no, because of…those people that hurt me, I see the love of God. I know that He loves them as much as He loves me. And they need Him as much as I do. He is bigger and better and deeper than I can even imagine and He loves me. Little ‘ol me.

    Please know that you don’t walk alone on this journey.

  24. Reading this, I can totally understand why you feel the way you do. I was raised with both sides of the spectrum…. the legalistic, “You must be perfect” side and the “God is grace and love” side.

    I 100% get where you are coming from. 100%. Sadly, that is why so many people who are raised in the church abandon it when they grow up.

    And, I’m having my own current issues with some people in the church. Thankfully, I know they aren’t an actual reflection on God or Jesus. Jesus loved the ones deemed unlovable. He was friends with those abandoned by society. He was all things graceful and loving.

    Sometimes, it is hard to distinguish what it is to be Christ-like from those who are Christians. It is hard to get your mind around the fact that just because someone who professes to be a good Christian says something, doesn’t make it true. It be a ridiculously difficult struggle.

    I’m working through it and it seems like you are, too. Hugs and prayers :)

  25. I used to have the same fears about the rapture. When I was small, I used to think that I got left behind all the time. I didn’t grow up in a church like yours but I understand that feeling. Things from my past lead me to believe that I was never good enough for God and that nothing I could do would get me into heaven. After a lot of counseling and good people, I’ve seen the light :) Although, most days it takes a conscious effort to not fall into that trap.

  26. Christians will mess us up all the time if we see them as our measuring stick. Look to the cross, not the christian! God is Love and Jesus is the way to God. He loves you and never intended for people to present him in such a condemning way! I too worry that my desire and love for Christ will turn my children off someday because it was our faith. But I believe the key is to live out love according to how Jesus instructed and then our kids will see our faith, rather then hear it. I heard this on a broadcast this morning “In your empty hands of faith, just reach out to Christ” He knows where you are at, it’s no surprise. We are all flawed and some sins are just more obvious then others…the answer is LOVE!

  27. I think you just said what MANY people try to put into words. Churches and people, they will fail you. At the end of the day there’s nobody who has to justify their relationship with God, because it’s just that, between you and God. God will always meet us where we’re at. What you wrote, your story, absolutely none of that surprises him. He is faithful to walk with us each and every day, no matter where those days take us. Loved your vulnerability in sharing this with us….. because you lay it out with such simplicty, and really God, it’s so so simple. He loves us. Always has and always will. There’s nothing that can separate us from that love! XOXO

  28. Hugs from the Philippines! So good, so moving.

  29. Oh Kelle, you have such a way with words! I love this post!

  30. Your optimism is inspiring. You are a seeker, Kelle. A beautiful seeker and question asker, and that I’m sure God is honored by that. You are such a lovely person. Thanks for your vulnerability in sharing. I know it must be hard in such a public place. :)

  31. I’m an Apostolic-Pentecostal, which is what I’m assuming you used to be and I can honestly say THANK GOD you got away from that church! That was not what church should be like. We are not called to judge. We are called to love and care. The church is not a place for the perfect. Its a hospital for the broken and we are all broken and imperfect. And thank God for that! I just want to extend a HUG and open a door for you if you’re ever in Orlando.

  32. Thank you for sharing this story. I know it’s hard to put words to this kind of thing, especially words that are public, and I admire you for doing it. Sending good vibes to you from sunny Ohio…

  33. Preach.

  34. Amazingly well said. *slow clap*

    Can I be honest and tell you something (hahaha! I’m gonna do it anyways!):

    I’ve enjoyed your writing this week. While I know it was difficult for you to work through, hard to write about, and insanely difficult to hit the “post” button and share those tough and intimate things with the entire world; Thank you.

    I feel like latelty I can’t really connect with you and your writing because I’m not the perfect Mom that you are. But these posts this week have really reminded me that you are still a person and you DO have struggles that are very real and very VERY relatable.

    So, thank you for sharing. And I don’t mind a deep ETST. Its seriously refreshing.

  35. Kelle, I can’t imagine how mortifying it would be to have to sit a table away from your daddy at a restaurant and to see him eat alone. If there is one message from the gospel, it should be that we are NOT alone. EVER! That must have just torn your heart…it did to mine, and I was only reading about it, just now.

    I’m certainly not an authority to speak on this, yet these days, I find myself just trying to grasp [please God, just ONE thing] about Jesus…: that he was [is] fully human. He sat alone, too. He was betrayed. He was tempted in every way. Which meant that he too was tempted to betray others. I think that is why he died and resurrected, though…to cover my sorry ass. To bridge the gaps of the gazillions of ways in which I have wronged others or God or myself and am thus fully deserving of hell. I heard once that he made a covenant with…well, someone in the old testament, by passing through the halves of animals. His covenant was to cover his end of the promise…and to hold the guy’s end of the covenant. To cover both ends because the guy was…just a beautiful human.

    I like to think that Jesus was fully God, too. He was able to overcome his frail humanity and cover not only his end of the cross covenant, but my end too. Holy shit. Fully human, fully God. It doesn’t make any sense. But it seems important, somehow.

    I think it is telling me that grace means I am to stop trying and just accept this incomprehensible love that covers me.

    I’m so glad you shared these past couple posts…they reminded me that my struggle to understand and make something beautiful of past and present church-hurts is not unique to me…

  36. Thanks for sharing your heart with us in such a beautiful and honest and gracious way. I heard this once when referring to people who have been hurt by people from the “church” who did it all wrong: when you go to an awful dentist, you don’t stop going to the dentist. You find one that does it well. I think it’s the same for Jesus and the Bible: you don’t give up the most precious things that the Creator gave us just because people, however well-meaning, fed you lies. You find the Truth and you hold on tight. Every bit of love in this world comes from Him. Hugs to you Kelle!

  37. Where we are told to “examine ourselves” it means to make sure you are in the faith! Are you trusting God? Believing in Him for salvation? etc. NOT examining our sin. It is not our work that saves us but HIS work and His alone. The greatest commandments are to love God and love others. THIS is what churches need to be teaching. We win others to Jesus by loving them not condemning them.

  38. I am so glad that you told more of your story. At times I want the faith of my husband. He was raised in a home with no questions. The Bible is truth, Jesus is the only way, sin is sin. I grew up going to church as a child, but from about 9 on, not so much. I explored different religions, different beliefs, and I struggle so much with “church” I go with my husband, I take my child and read the Bible to my daughter. But I hope that more than anything people could love and not judge, that they could think beyond themselves more often and not use scare tactics as a way of “forcing” people to believe the same as them.

    I too have panic moments of the rapture happened and I am here alone. Then I just track down another human and get a hug, it always seems to help.

    As a side note I was inspired to try a toddler led walk the other day. It was a great suggestion.

  39. That’s why I’m proud to be a Catholic. I just think they have a much more realistic view of the whole God thing than most Christian religions. I’m so proud of this new Pope, who is such a breath of fresh air. God loves you for being YOU, flaws and all, including those horrible “sinful” thoughts. Bring it! They’re just thoughts. Actions matter. That’s the biggest difference between Catholic and other Christian religions. When Martin Luther lead the Protestant Reformation and broke from the Catholic church, he just up and changed the bible to say what he wanted, removed stuff, and made it his way. Sorry but I just can’t accept that.

  40. I read your blog as we have a grandchild with Downs and it helps me to understand.

    I grew up in churches just like what you did. Being told if bad things happen to you, you have sin in your life and so much more. At every turn I was sinning and they were going to beat it out of me or else.

    I ran from the church into sex and some drugs trying to escape that I was not good enough and felt I would burn in hell. I too when I called out for my mom and she did not answer, I felt she was raptured and I was left.

    I have only been back in the church for a short time, I found one that does not condemns but loves and if one is having a hard time understanding, they are gentle in their approach to help us learn. Bad things happen to all of us, both non and believers alike. The good part is we have Jesus promise that we will not be alone while going through these trials.

    Start with John 3:16 and let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart from there. GOD did send his son Jesus who paid our sin debt. Through Jesus our sins are forgiven. Since I do not have all the answers and I do not know what all is sin, I just ask GOD that if I have done something to displease him that day, Please forgive me in Jesus name.

    I know Jesus forgives if we believe in him. The rest, I am learning as I go along. Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit; He speaks to our heart and guides us on the right path.

    Praying that GOD will give you peace from the kind of upbringing you experienced from those damaging doctrines. He delivered me and he can do the same for you.
    GOD bless you in Jesus name.

  41. A relationship with God is very person, it is your and yours alone and it may not be the same as your husbands, your kids or your neighbors because only God knows YOUR heart and what YOUR needs are, there for I bugs me to no end when people try to tell me who MY God is, ya know? My God only loves. I view God as the ulitmate parents, who wants nothing but the best for his children and to support them and to cherrish them. Discipline? well i think my God is more for natural consequences rather than punishment or condemnation.

  42. I like to believe we all have our own version of God. He’s still the guy up there, we just think of him how we want. To me he’s my best friend. I pray in conversations with him and that’s how I feel close to him. That’s my version of praying. He’s in my life so he sees that I sin, but he still loves me and cares about me and wants me to be in heaven with him. Quoting Grey’s Anatomy: he’s our person.

    But I’m only 20 so what do I know!? 😉

    it takes courage to write about these issues on the internet, kudos to you! :)

  43. Praying for you Kelle as you seek to find truth. And I want to offer this encouragement, perhaps to implore you not to throw out Jesus and the Bible as you’re seeking. :)

    What the Bible REALLY says…what the gospel of Jesus is…is that we really aren’t ever going to attain that perfection level that God requires. We mess up almost every single day somehow. Yes, it’s okay to be human, but also to take ownership for the stuff we knowingly do wrong. Actually, that’s imperative. The true love story is knowing that it doesn’t matter if we mess up, because Jesus came to die for our sins. I know you’ve heard that your whole life, but I just encourage you to really, really stop and reflect on that point.

    God is the one who requires perfection, but showed us grace when he sent his son. Jesus interceded so that we can still have salvation despite our flaws. So does every little thing we do wrong mean we’re doomed to hell? No. Thanks to Jesus. But you have to first be willing to admit that you need his help. That’s the gospel message in a nutshell, and anything anyone else has told you…well…they probably made it up. Haha. Love you, girl!

  44. I love your honesty and willingness to share it with us. Thank you!! If you are looking for a good read, google Andrew Farley. I think there is a lot about his books you may really find interesting. My personal favorite, “God without Religion” So good. So much love to you! xoxo

  45. Kelle,

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with your readers! When I read your book, there was a big part of me that grieved for the negative experiences you had with God and Church growing up.
    And from your post today, I am even more sad that you grew up assuming God could never love you, but you still felt loved by friends and family. I simply do not think that is how it is meant to be! While the Bible is full of verses about God’s wrath and justice, it is equally (if not more) full of verses about His unfailing, never ending love for each of us – whether we feel like we are “doing good” with and for Him or feel distant and separated from Him!
    Can I be honest with you? I cannot tell me how much your blog inspires me! You seem to be full of unending energy for your children, your husband, your friends, life! I don’t always dwell on the good and the “here and now.” But you inspire me to!
    But on the flip-side, as a Christian, I am so sad that the spiritual part of you has been so abused and mistreated that you have felt like there is no hope of God ever loving you and staying that way regardless of your choices or mistakes! There is so much freedom in accepting his unmerited grace. There is freedom in living in that, desiring to do the best you can in all areas of your life, but also forgiving yourself when you mess up. And realizing that God does not keep score of our wrongs and we just have to hope the good outweighs the bad. That is not the God of the Bible and not the God that I serve!
    I commend you for taking some time to review or re-awaken the spiritual part of your life! And I am praying that those you interact with will help you have an accurate understanding of God and faith, and not one skewed by “good works” as it seemed you learned growing up!
    Thank you again for your inspiration! I especially appreciate your openness when talking about having a Special Needs child. We have one, too, although our adopted son struggles from having Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The effects of this are a part of our family’s every day life, yet we embrace him and love him for who he is! Thank you for helping me not feel alone in this, even though our children do not shared the same diagnosis!
    Praying you feel deeply loved by God today – just because!
    ~Teresa Brown

  46. Thank you for so honestly sharing with us – it’s why I keep coming back to read your words. xoxo

  47. Hi Kelly,
    Your post today was truly heartfelt. I too, am like you, church hurt. I have a mom who is a church catholic nazi. She has driven us all away from church. In my life, I have chosen to find my God. This is my journey and my life. I taught my boys the meaning of love and my dh and I choose to help others in our own way. Discreetly, lovingly and without the church. I love my church but the people in it right now, arent like me. One old wise nun once told me that Mother Mary never worshipped in a church because there were none at that time. My quest for God is a lifelong journey. I learn every day more about God. The best way I can describe my experience is that I have life lessons to learn from God that I think were chosen before I was born. So I’m doing the best to learn. And you know what Kelly, sometimes I dont get it right off the first crack. Sometimes it takes me a few times to learn. And that’s OK because I’m human and not perfect. I have found that when I use angel cards that Doreen Virtue creates, I can focus and learn more. There are lots of decks and I have several. My angels are always with me on my road to God. Hope you find your road. Hugs.

  48. Yes. Nodding my head. Grew up in a religious extended family, not religious immediate family and felt the guilt about that. Joined a non-denominational church (leaning towards Southern Baptist) at 15 by choice. More guilt. Left when I went to college and now I’m 30 and the same church I joined at 15 has changed their message. It’s all about radical grace. and it makes SO MUCH SENSE to me now. The price has been paid, so why do we beat ourselves up? It’s something that I can totally get on board with. Focus on the good, you are good, God’s not mad. God is your Father. Your dad loves you even when you mess up. As a parent…it makes a lot more sense if I look at it from that perspective. I don’t get caught up in the details. I love hearing about your journey and your honest perspective.

  49. Yup! I was raised in an IFB church (independent Fundamental Baptist Church) and I too have really taken the last 15 years of my life to reconsider the damages this ideology has done to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will go to heaven when I die, but not because I’m perfect, but because the one who died for me was! I’m not perfect, but God doesn’t expect me to be. I’m human. I recently read a book that really helped me to see just how warped my childhood really was. It’s called “I Fired God!” Very good read. You will find your way, just don’t turn your back on Jesus because he alone is the LOVE we all need! God Bless!

  50. Thank you, Kelle. Just thank you. <3

  51. This was beautiful. I really appreciate when you go deep about things, especially this particular subject. I was raised in a Methodist church in California (about as liberal as you can get) but I was once brought up to the altar during a revival at my Granny’s church in Tennessee, while teeth were gnashed and there was wailing about how I was going to hell. I will always remember how scared and humiliated I felt. I know God did not endorse that moment. I don’t really have a point other than to say faith is not simple, I appreciate your honesty, and all I know for sure is God = love.

    I can’t wait to meet you next week in San Diego. XOXO

  52. wow, thank you so much for sharing something so vulnerable. vulnerable writing is beautiful.

    i’m heartbroken over how sin and hell was presented in your church.

    my pastor presented the gospel so clearly this weekend……when we get to heaven, standing in line waiting to be “judged” by God….He’ll look at us, those who trust in Jesus, and He’ll say…”ya, your life was kinda skrewed up. you sinned. you were FARRR from perfect. BUT, i see you through the lens that i see my Son, Jesus. He took the penalty of your sins. welcome, well done good and faithful servant.”

    NOTHING that we can do here on this earth will earn us salvation. we are messed up HUMANS just as you said. but, Christ. He’s already paid sins punishment on the cross. amen.

    i pray that you would see the grace and mercy of God through His son!! the gospel is a sweet sweet thing.

    xoxo
    lexie

  53. I find comfort in this:

    “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
    -Jeremiah 29:13

    From following your blog for years, I don’t think you will have a problem using your whole heart. That says to me you will find HIM – not other people’s versions of Him, but God himself.

    You are, by far, the most honest blogger I follow. It is a privilege to be let in on your thoughts!

  54. Oh wow! What an interesting read. The button thing? What the hell is right! I was raised and am currently a Latter Day Saint and while I never witnessed anything that extreme, I can see how people could feel like anything they do is sinful. Luckily my church teaches that we will never be perfect so I don’t feel awful when I buy buttons at garage sales 😉

    I am on the side of “my faith has brought me so much peace and I hope that one day you can find something that brings you the same!
    You’re awesome, Kelle!
    XOXO

    Riley Jo

    RileyJustesen.Blogspot.com

  55. I was so sad imagining you guys eating separated from your dad. I’m sorry. And I’m happy to see how close and loving your family is now. Good job! :) … and Jesus loves you! 😉

  56. Thank you for being brave enough to share some of your story. There is often a shame associated with questioning your faith, especially when you’ve had fear struck in you of doing so in your past.

    I grew up with parents who didn’t attend church. I had a paternal aunt and grandmother who were strict Christians, and often took me to church with them. I remember the same feelings as you, especially the fear that if you weren’t perfect, you weren’t good enough for God.

    When I was about twelve, a friend of mine took me to her church. I had such a great experience there that I convinced my parents and maternal grandmother to begin attending. It really was the little white church on the hill, and the pastor was a wonderful elderly man whose motto was ‘it doesn’t matter your creed, all are welcome’. I learned so much about God’s unconditional love there, and more importantly, I learned about fellowship and grace.

    After about 6 years of attending, a new regime took over, and all of the things I loved about my little white church began to change. I haven’t attended regular services since then. Especially in the last few years, I’ve struggled with my faith and my relationship with God. I’ve wondered if I can really believe that there is a supreme, all-knowing being in control of the universe. I’m finally starting to come to terms with exactly what my faith and beliefs are, though I’m still on that journey, and might be forever.

    The one thing that I’ve learned is that every person’s relationship with God is extremely personal and unique. No one can tell you what to believe, how to believe, or how to come to your beliefs. It’s a personal journey on a long and winding road, and everyone has to do it for themselves. Thanks for sharing a little piece of your journey with us, Kelle.

  57. I got chills while reading this, Kelle. God is in these words you wrote. He is there! I am so glad you are finding Him!

  58. Thanks so much for sharing! I grew up in a church were we were taught if you truly believe that God gave his son to die on the cross for your sins then you will go to heaven. No matter what. By grace and grace alone. Yes we ask for forgiveness, but we are already forgiven before we as. Because Jesus died for us we should show thankfulness for this by living lives of love toward are neighbor etc. I also believe that God chose us and we do not choose God – Kelle you are already God’s child so imagine that relationship that you have with your child and it helps to then relate how God feels to you. He loves you no matter what.

  59. I also wanted to add that not all churches are like that. That is why I say thank God you got away from that church. The church I belong to is far from that. I would hope that one day you would find your way back to a good church that makes you feel welcomed and loved.

  60. I am such a perfectionist with so many things in my life…something that has been SO comforting for me is to realize that there’s a difference between being perfect and perfecting ourselves.

    I think our job in this life is just work, day by day to get a little bit better each day. Jesus was the only perfect person on the earth and it makes no sense to me to think that any of us who aren’t perfect (aka, all of us) would go to Hell for it. I think God loves us too much for that.

    I think that’s part of what’s so wonderful about Christ’s Atonement… it allows us to just get a little better each day, to try again when we screw up, and to see each other as fellow humans all trying to figure out what we’re doing here.

  61. You never cease to amaze me. Thank you for sharing. and putting into words a lot of the same fears and struggles I have had through out my life. I have had those same dreams. and still do sometimes.

    I have been known to say… well Ill save a seat for ya on the roller coaster to hell. Because there are days when no matter how much good. No matter how much repentance, I know… If what I was taught is true… that is where I am going. No hands barred.

    May you be blessed today. In some small way. the smile from your children. the laughter of a friend. The Hug from your loving husband. Hold onto those wonderful small things that I believe God does “allow” for us to be gifted with. Enjoy every moment of the sun the sand and the fall leaves that should be in the mail soon.

    Love to read your blog and thankful for today. you shared a struggle that so many of us have.

  62. Have you ever read conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch? I’m at a similar place in my life and this book seems to bring me peace. I read it with an open heart and open mind. It brings peace to my soul. I’m connecting where I once felt a huge disconnect. There’s something about its simplicity that triggers my soul. I, like most others commenting here, was raised in a strict religious home. I was a child full of questions which often threw my parents off with trying to answer things. I took those questions into my adult life and I am still discovering God just not as I was raised. You should check out the book….maybe your soul will feel a connection.

  63. Kelle….
    Your church/God situation sounds similar to my Dad’s upbringing, and I am sorry about that. However. I was raised to believe this. We are all sinners–every one of us–which, yes, makes us human. I firmly believe that God is a God of second–or more!!–chances. He will never leave me or forsake me. This has been proven along my lifetime. Repeatedly. Because we live in a broken world, corrupted by sin, yes, I mess up. I mess up. We all do. And, although I fail more than I succeed, I was also raised to live like Christ…. With a deep, deep, deep understanding that this is near impossible.
    By the way? My closest friend happens to be gay. She is such a dear, sweet, wonderful encouragement, and I love her very, very, very much!!
    –Raelyn

  64. Have you ever read Glennon’s blog, mommastery? I think you’d fit in well there with the rest of us monkees who believe in love. ( http://momastery.com/blog/ )

    We know there’s a God, we love God, but we know that most importantly, God loves. It’s not about jumping through hoops and all that religion rubbish, it’s about a relationship. Jesus died for us, knowing that we’d all do wrong things. He died, loving me, despite what I was going to, and still will do. If he was willing to die no matter the bad things I did, why should I hold the guilt of them, he’s already paid for them (I’m not saying I deliberately try to be naughty!).

    I’ve realised I’ve turned into a preacher, sorry!
    I love your blog, I’ve learnt so much about how to love and forgive and enjoy my life from you, but I’ve rarely commented, you have so many other comments, I’m sure you’ve lived without mine. But you have made such a difference to me, I want you to know that it’s ok to just love.

  65. I too was traumatized by a pentecostal upbringing. I have lived the: The Rapture Happened and Now I’ve Been Left Behind” as a small child many times. Terror. Fear. Knowing that if I sinned and died before I repented I would burn in hell eternally. Heavy stuff for a 7 or 8 year old!

    Now, at 37 my faith is strong. We take our children to church every Sunday. We pray every night. We read the Bible.

    We don’t threaten about hell or being left behind.

    Best of luck in your journey!

  66. Thanks for sharing, Kelle.

    Been quietly following your blog but I couldn’t resist commenting today.

    When I came to the part where you mentioned ‘rapture’, my heart skipped so many beats. I had a dream last night (the second time I’d dream about rapture actually).

    Maybe you were inspired to write this post because of some little lady oceans away…

    Cheers,

    Abiola.

  67. Luke 5:27-32
    “…the Pharisees and their legal experts grumbled against his disciples. They said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to call righteous people but sinners to change their hearts and lives.'”

    Also, the Old Testament tells a beautiful story about how God’s people continued to fall away from their faith, but God ALWAYS calls his people back to Him. It’s a wildly awesome story of redemption.

  68. *phew*

    You’ve come to the Good Place. None of us are ever going to be ‘good enough’ but He loves us enough to go the extra (thousand) miles, to make the difference – to allow that to happen.

    Our redemption is TOTALLY about His character, not our own. He made it happen because He cares enough to, and that’s awesome.

    ‘Perfection’ can only happen in the next world, as a result of us being looked upon through the lens of that redeeming grace and mercy.

    Such a relief, hey?

  69. This was extremely powerful post for me to read. I grew up in the Northeast where church wasn’t really part of our everyday life. My parents took us to my grandmother’s church on holidays, but we never went regularly. I think because they thought our time was better spent on Sunday morning bonding with each other. When I was 10, we moved to the Bible Belt (rural GA). My father joined the local Presbyterian Church. It was an easy way to involved in the community and meet people. And it was something to do now that my parents at that time had taken an early retirement. My faith grew during that time. I believe that God is love and that Jesus came to prove that love. I still have that same faith today, but I do not go to church. Mostly for the reasons that my parents had when I was younger. Sunday morning, the only day we get to spend entirely as a family, is better spent in PJ’s eating pancakes. Someday that may change, but it is working for us right now. After we moved to GA, I was invited constantly to church events by friends from school. I went to one right after we moved. It was a lock in sponsored by a local Baptist church. During the course of the night, I was asked if I was saved. This is not terminology I was used to. I had no idea what they were talking about. I said I believe in God and Jesus. That should have been enough for them, but it wasn’t. They brought me up in front of the crowd to have everyone point at me to tell me I was going to hell, because I wasn’t saved. My parents picked me up early. It was traumatizing. I hope you can find peace with your faith at some point. Not all views on God are as extreme as a jar of buttons. Believing is enough.

  70. Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing ways that God has been misrepresented-when humans try to control everything and put his name on it. I grew up in a very similar way and then was introduced to the “father heart” message and actually met God for myself. He’s impossibly loving, understanding, merciful and kind…which makes the whole sending his son to die for us thing make a lot more sense. The book Finding Father by AJ Jones and her story has been paramount to my understanding of the nature of God…and it changed my whole life. I’ve experienced so much healing from things I’ve walked through just from having the unconditional love of the Father remind me of my worth…which was the struggle that made me try to kill myself at fifteen. When I was date raped out of nowhere earlier this year I ran straight to him and watched him literally wash off my shame and remind me of who I am. He talks to me all day long. I learned how to hear his voice and sometimes I write at the top of my journal “Papa, what do you think about me?” and I write down what I feel him say. It’s a game changer for sure. It’s impossible that I am as whole as I feel right now, but that’s what unconditional love does. It surrounds. I think your current understanding of love and what’s true has been guided by him all along. I’m so glad you’ve unlearned the lies you were fed as a child Kelle. You’re an amazing mom and a beautiful woman and I learn from you all the time. Thanks for being brave and sharing your experience and your wrestling for truth. I’m sorry those things happened to you, and so, so sorry they happened in the name of the one who IS love.

  71. I totally get where you are. It’s all about expectations…of ourselves of others…and they lead to disappointment and disenchantment. I’m at a place where I don’t want to go to church anymore, but I know the bible says not to give up fellowship. God is so funny…He totally knew we would want to stop going to church at some point so He put that in there!! God doesn’t disappoint us, people do and that can be hard to weed through since people make up the church we are supposed to go to. I’m reading the book “Bonhoeffer”, he was a Christian pastor in Germany during WWII and he was involved in a plot to kill Hitler. The book includes a lot of his writing about faith and God. Most German Christians were “religious” meaning they went to church but didn’t know God. Bonhoeffer realized there was more to God than that and in his letters and writings you can hear him working this out. It’s beautiful. It has truly helped me see past all the religion and extraneous trappings and get to the heart of being a Christian in this world. One thing I love is that he talks about how Christians need to be of this world, being courageous and taking risks here and now. We are of no use to God if we play it safe in our churches and insulated communities. And truly, courage is a trait I see in you. I know you will find your way on your faith journey. Remember your belief in God doesn’t have to look or be a certain way as long as it is true to the One who made you and loves you so very much.

  72. http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1966

    I know you’ll get a lot of these kinds of comments, but I have to post this speech that talks about how God’s grace works. This life is all about practicing (which will include many mistakes)and God just wants us to ask for His help to get through it.

  73. In my religion we believe the Bible has been changed some.. We read the Bible but don’t always take everything to heart. The story of Jesus telling the mob wanting to stone the adulterous women -whoever is without sin can cast the first stone- should let you know he’s understanding and loving. That’s how I always think of God, and Christ. Even in my church I see judgement but thats man not God. I continue to go to church and take my kids because the kind of people it teaches me and my children to be. That is something I want to encourage. It teaches them service, kindness, understanding, honesty, being non judgmental, repentance (not publicly over every thought). Does every member always live perfectly? No but that’s their own deal and were not suppose to judge. Do I think you’ll go to Hell because you don’t go to church? No. You teach your kids kindness to others and isn’t that the second greatest commandment (to love our neighbors), and the first is to love God. Loving God isn’t sitting in a pew and confessing every negative thought to the congregation. I’m glad your finding your piece with God.

  74. Kelle, I’ve lurked on your blog since Nella was born. This post hit me like no other. I love you all the more. Girl, you keep inspiring me. I often don’t exactly understand what it is I’m teaching my children about God. We aren’t very religious now BECAUSE I came from a very religious upbringing. Like you I often wondered, WTH? But I’m a very spiritual adult, pretty dang intuitive and so very, very human. I know how to love. And I LOVE BIG. I think that’s really all we need. That and each other. xoxo.

  75. I think the most important message from the BIBLE is love. If everyone remembered that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourself and judge not yest ye be judged the world would be a much better place. The only one allowed to judge us and condemn us to hell is God. Yet, look how quickly Christians rush to judge and condemn anyone who is different to HELL. I am a Christian and have to remind myself daily that is my job to love everyone and God’s job to judge.

  76. Oh Honey, I am right there with you when it comes to struggling with religion. I never had the rapture nightmares but dealt with tons of Catholic guilt– especially for not accepting the answers I was given as a child. Now, at 35 years old, I think I’ve finally found my churchy niche, among the Unitarian Universalists. I’m not exactly to that place of peace with my own ideas and beliefs yet, but I feel like I”m at least on the road that leads to the highway. Thanks so much for sharing this post! And if you’re ever in Iowa and want to curl up on my couch and chat into the night about this, just let me know. :)

  77. Kelle, I am SO sorry you experienced all that. My experience was similar and left similar damage that God helped me get through. I’m thankful that He actually showed me what I was believing and hanging onto was crap.
    Total crap.

    See, churches like your old and mine- they put all this silly emphases on you and me. On people. Sinners. But they forget the bigger, most beautiful picture. Jesus came and died for it all. Its been paid for. Done. We do t have to try anymore. We don’t have to be little interceders for ourselves.
    For me, that is SO freeing! To know that Jesus says we’re gonna mess up (over and over again) but that He wants us to run to him when we do and sit in his lap and hear Him speak truth into our hearts – that’s beautiful to me. That’s a message I want to tell my kids. “Its ok! Jesus knows we’re gonna struggle and he welcomes us to run to him with it, just like you’d come tell Daddy and me all about it.”
    The Jesus Storybook Bible for kids is my favorite because it does a great job getting our eyes off of us and onto a good, heroic God.

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  78. Thank you for sharing. You inspire me, a long time Christian, to love others every time you blog. I grew up in a chruch that loves God, but is pretty judgemental towards people in general. When I grew up and moved away after getting married we found a church that does the loving others SO WELL and I got to see the real love of Jesus lived out. It is a beautiful thing. I agree that church people get caught up in fixing others’ sins (or just outright judging them with their nose up) that we forget that we are first called to love, always. Not just when things are clean and shiny. But most importantly when lives are dingy, shattered, broken, and sometimes plain filthy. I know God’s heart breaks over your childhood and the wounds it left you with. You are so right when you say He wants you to just be with Him. Things will fall into place the more time you just spend being with Him. He is full of grace, despite what some humans teach at their pulpit. Blessings on your journey to finding God. He will meet you wherever you are.

  79. A quote from Mother Teresa.
    “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”
    ― Mother Teresa

  80. I think everyone that grows up in church, has a crisis of faith in some way. I went through the same thing & came out in a very similar place as you did. Good for you for just believing. The thing that I realized that did me more good than anything else was that my relationship with God is just that, mine. And regardless of what anyone else thinks or says about it, I’m the one who has to answer for it. And I’m okay with that :)

  81. I am simply so so sorry. You are loved. We are ALL loved. Saved by grace, not condemned to live a life in fear.

  82. I love that you wrote this post. I could have written it but not as well. I grew up a similar way. I no longer believe in God and some days I wish I could. But I will say life is so much better now I’m not trying to be perfect and sinless. Instead Im learning to be who I really am. If God is real I think thats what he would want too. Especially if he made us in the first place x

  83. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been struggling with this for a while myself, so thank you for making me see I am definitely not alone.

  84. This is the most honest, most genuine, most authentic thing you’ve posted in eons. Hooray for you! And it’s also the “clearest read” you’ve put up for a long, long time, if that makes any sense. Glad to have you back, etst. Kudos.

  85. I teared up thinking of your sweet dad sitting all by himself…

  86. well holy cow that explains why you’re struggling with God and faith! i’d probably be running far far, FAR away from anything remotely church related if that was my experiences. geesh!!

    I grew up quite the opposite. we still talked about sin…because we’ve all sinned, but we didn’t focus on it. we focused on grace and how Jesus died for us and rose again. we focused on love and how His blood erases away all my crap. we focused on His mercy, and because of what He did for me…for you…it covers my shortcomings and makes it possible to be a brand new creation.

    I don’t have to worry about being perfect because I never will be. i’ll never be good enough. i’ll never be worthy or deserve forgiveness. my worth is in Him and that’s why I love Him so. that’s why I can’t help but talk about it:)) it’s so much more than sin, forgiveness etc…it’s a friendship. He walks with me every step. I can’t imagine trying to navigate this life without His help. I would drown. praying over you that all those bad memories will be erased. that the God that I know would reach down and give you a giant unconditional squeeze. love you girl. sorry for the loooong comment.

  87. Kelle,

    Read the book Love Does if you have a chance, I think it will bring you great comfort! It shows the type of God you are seeking in this post and confirms the motto I think you already live by “discovering a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.”

    <3

  88. I have had similar struggles with “church” and “religion.” Basically, organized religion is a man-made thing, which means it is bound to be jacked up.
    God loves us the way we love our own children. That fierce, consuming, 24-7 love. I also believe God loves it when we argue, question, get angry, and cry out to Him, because that means we know He is there and is listening to us.

  89. That is some seriously difficult stuff… I don’t want to bag on the church of your youth (because my religion gets plenty of bad press itself and is certainly filled with faults) but that is sorta horrible. Can I say that? That constant idea of HELL forever and ever and ever… and for kids, well like you said, I think that type of teaching is destructive. Being LDS (Mormon) we try so hard to make sure people know we’re Christian because a lot of people try to tell us we’re not…but quite often I’m relieved to be a tad separated from the general Christian body because our teachings–particularly of the afterlife–are really, really different from that.

    BUT, HUGE BUT here… Mormons (myself included) certainly get caught up in that whole perfection thing big time. And a lot of people frankly crumble under the weight, the problem (in my opinion) being that often we are trying to be perfect for each other more than seeking to progress in our standing with God–who I believe is a lot more merciful than we give Him credit for. Our church is known for our lengthy list of “rules” and the many things we can’t do (smoke, drink, sex before marriage, etc) but it’s easy to life those principals outwardly and yet totally miss the mark inwardly (charity, love, forgiveness, etc). I know I’ve been caught up in that line of thought before.

    In recent years I have been sort of redefining my beliefs for myself as well–things I once saw as black and white are definitely more grey. I too have tried to see the humanity, the love, the effort, and look past the checkmark list of rules (although I still believe in those too). In my opinion I think what we’re really here to do is to learn to love–not a Hollywood love-at-first-sight love, but the a selfless, enduring love that stems from action like service and sacrifice…I find this love easiest to comprehend in the bounds of motherhood.

    I actually wrote about an epiphany I had on perfection a while ago–back when I was prego with Lamp. My favorite quote from a local church leader that sticks with me still, “Beware of trying to be perfect. We don’t even know what that looks like.”

    If you’re interested you can read it here: http://www.thislittlemiggy.com/2010/04/being-perfect.html

    Anyway, proud of you Kelle–I think your search is admirable and will eventually lead you to where your supposed to be…and the journey is just as important. Hugs.

  90. A very interesting read. As a Jew, I can’t relate but I feel for you. G-d and religion should be a source of joy and comfort (and of course some obligation), but not of intolerance and hatred. You should convert! :-)

  91. Feel the exact same way…Thanks for writing what my heart was feeling…
    t @ happy soul project

  92. I am so sorry that the God of the Bible that was presented to you as a child was not the God of Grace… because that is truly who He is. Teachers and churches and religion and the enemy have a way of really getting that part twisted. What you are describing is called legalism and it couldn’t be further from the message of Christ if you take the time to research it. I’m so thankful for the way grace has transformed my life… and I pray you would find healing and truth and freedom in this area… it’s worth pursuing, I promise. <3

    This is one of my favorite teachers… I think you’d like her too. <3 http://blog.lproof.org/2013/09/grace.html

  93. Kelle, this just broke my heart. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but have never left a comment. (and by the way I LOVE your blog :))
    I was raised pretty much the exact opposite of you…we never talked about sin or hell…love love love was all I ever heard about. And so far that is how I’ve been raising my children. But I find myself thinking I’m not giving them the whole truth about life. There is going to be hate and hurt. My 7 year old girl asked me last week “if God made bad things, like cigarettes” (my mom smokes..lol) and is wanting to get baptized. But I think how can she understand the “washing away of sin” when all I’ve ever taught her (and believe 100%) is how God made her so beautiful inside and out, and loves her, and she’s amazing and God made her amazing…. oh it’s hard… I didn’t mean to write all this…. all I wanted to tell you is we are in this together. GOD is love and girlfriend you are loving people

  94. My mother-in-law once asked us to come up with our own quote that we would want to pass onto our children. My quote was, “Our everyday imperfections are what make us real. They give us dimension, character & the opportunity to discover ourselves. They are God’s own signature on our souls.” God specifically gives us imperfections so we can learn. And not so much that we can learn to become perfect, but so that we can learn to LOVE perfectly. It is only through learning to love ourselves and others in our human form (constantly making mistakes) that we can truly come to understand the depth of love that God has for us. Imperfections aren’t a bad thing…they are instead an essential part of this life.

  95. I appreciate your honesty and your heart is so evident in your writing. It is literally heart breaking to read some of the experiences you were faced with when you were younger. I can’t even fathom how in the world someone could paint a picture of God the way it was to you. The story of your dad at the table all by himself-devastating. I am so sorry. I really am.

    I pray that the Lord would fill your heart with comfort knowing it’s okay to trust Him. Those horrid, horrid, descriptions of God are found no where in the word of God. Nowhere. God is love. He is not a rejector, a condemnmator, a hater, or a finger-pointer. He is Love. Jesus is His son. They are a team.

    I love your writing. I love your heart. I know that the shattered pieces you spoke of will become a beautiful masterpiece full of love. Because if I have gathered anything from your book and from reading your blog, you are FULL of love. For EVERYONE. And I admire you for that. Our world needs more loving people just like you. Blessings to you, Kelle.

  96. I have a simple remedy…Read the Bible…start with the gospel of John and do your best to do away with man made ideas that Scripture does not support. Trusting in Christ has little to do with trying to reach some level of sinless perfection; rather is recognizes our inability to save ourselves.

  97. I get it. I really do. I was raised in the church and I can’t say that I’m an active church-goer today. However I feel about organized religion– however broken it has become– I know that my relationship with God has always remained close and extremely personal.

    Having children causes the “broken” to resurface. I want to introduce God, but I don’t want to introduce the judgements and certain doctrines the church has. How do I raise my kids, instilling our values and beliefs of marriage equality (etc), then take them to a church who teaches the opposite? It’s conflicting and stressful.

    I get it.

  98. I have a troubled past with faith as well and something that I was told to do, by a very wise life coach, was write a termination letter to the god that I no longer wanted to associate with. Tell him/her why I’m ending our relationship. Then, write a wanted ad for the god that I’d like to have in my life, including what I expect to gain from having a relationship with that god. It really helped me move on from my anger, frustration, and bitterness that attached to the faith I was told to own growing up, and move on to what I felt was best for me. xx

  99. Dear Kelle,
    I just read your post and I just felt led to say that I am so sorry that that is what you knew of church. My dad went to a church like that and it made me question a lot of things growing up. Over the last 3 years I have suffered a miscarriage that almost took my life then after a year of hoping for another baby and nine months of pregnancy I gave birth to my sweet daughter but she wasn’t breathing .after a3 weeks in the NICU we got to bring her home write about it on my blog. I saw God’s love through those experiences and I believe God is love . church and fellowship are awesome but people are people and God loves us all. I also wanted to say a big thank you because it was because of your blog that we were able to handle and except any disabilities our daughter might have had due to brain damage at birth. We were going to love her no matter what. Happily she is a miracle and is at age level at 8 months and thriving. Thank you for you blog.
    Sincerely ,Jennifer Tracy

  100. I would call that kind of uprbringing a kind of spiritual abuse. Our church slogan is “No Perfect People Allowed.” I came to faith as an adult and I wonder how it will be like for my kids growing up with faith. Frankly its hard to get it “right.” The other night our 6-year old was asking about heaven and the whole concept of having a restored body in heaven, which we meant to be comforting, scared the heck out of him. So we mess up all the time but I have faith in a God who forgives and gives grace. I like how Bono said it (yes I am quoting U2, darn it!), he said that if we truly believed in karma, we’d all be doomed. We’ve all done things that were unkind or mean-spirited and if we had our true payback in the form of karma coming to us it would be scary. But Jesus stepped into the fray and he took our due and gave us grace. Grace has taken the place of karma. And thank God for it. If you know anyone who’s attended a Tres Dias weekend retreat, I highly recommend them as a way to strengthen your walk with God and reconcile with your past. Its a loving, supportive place to be close to God.

  101. I could have written so much of this! Probably not quite as eloquently, but the sin-busting, the rapture fear…If my dad wasn’t snoring at night, I’d sneak down the hall to make sure I could still see my parents’ silhouettes in their bed just to be sure they were still there and hadn’t been raptured. I just found a book at B&N on Wednesday by Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, called Wounded by God’s People. I had to snatch it up to read while I was there because I feel exactly that way – and yet I still love those people. It especially resonated with me because I – like you and she – am also a pastor’s daughter, and church wounding is a strange and tender thing for pastor’s children, I think. The book is a little heavy-ish on doctrine stuff (she talks a lot about the story of Hagar), but what I read of it provoked me to think and made me want to read about Hagar on my own. Thinking of you and hoping you find a little more clarity for this part of your path!

  102. Thank you for sharing this depth. My parents started out their faith in a church that sounds similar… thankfully they left when I was 5. But the remnants of their early faith still left some challenges in my spiritual and personal growth for YEARS.

    I adore the heart of Christianity and am now in a church that does its best to keep that heart as the focus.

    We are loved simply for existing, and that is so powerful. Thank you for that beautiful reminder.

    I am happy you are going to take the broken glass to create a stained glass window for your hillside chapel. Beautiful things come out of brokenness, and I’m sure your chapel will be a lovely one.

    <3

  103. Sounds like you were pentecostal. It’s difficult to imagine a church that gets it’s parishioners to obey by ingraining in them the fear of God.

    It’s never swayed well with me. I’m all about attachment parenting and disciplining my child with love, not fear. As a child of God, I want to obey him and live by his words because of the love he has for me, the love I have for me, and the love I have for others.

    I hope you can continue on your journey and that you will come to a place of peace, joy and happiness about your position with God and religion.

  104. “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
    and right doing there is a field.
    I’ll meet you there.” Rumi

    An ancient prophet thought the same way you do… I’m hoping there’s room in the field with daises and sunflowers for me too!

  105. It breaks my heart to read the fear, and stress you went through as a child related to your faith. I have been on many journeys with my own faith and think that these Journeys, or times of questioning what I do or don’t think will never end. What God and faith look like to me will be constantly evolving, but I’m finally at a place where I think that’s okay, and even more, God is okay with that. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. Thank you for your blog, your messages, and your heart.

  106. Oh my, we had very similar upbringings, from the parents who loved us to the crazy rapture stories. When I was a little girl, every night in bed I would proclaim, “Jesus is coming back tonight”. Having been told that no one knew the day or hour of Jesus’ return, I thought that if I predicted it, it would not happen. Pretty clever, huh? Ha! Like you, I am still working through all of this. Wishing you peace in the journey.

  107. You have such a gift with words. Thank you for opening up and bearing your soul to so many online readers.

  108. Oh, Kelle!!! I loved this post so so much!!! I hope I’m one of those people whose comments about God (and Jesus) feel like a hug! Because I have a huge lump in my throat begging to come out in the form of sobbing tears, and (((hugs))) for both you AND your dad!!!

  109. Oh Kelle,

    I am so sorry you had to go through all that crap. It makes me sad to think that there are people out there that were telling you how sinful and broken you are and how you were made to feel like you were not good enough. If people shared the message of Gods love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, since that’s what it’s really all about is love, there would be so many less people in the world feeling like God or the church didnt care, and much less hate. You are so right when you say that God loves you just for existing, because he totally does sister!

    The truth is, is that we are all broken people in a broken world, and sometimes we just need someone to walk along side us and say, “I love you, no matter what (what you’ve done, said, felt, etc.).” If we never show the love of God, people will never know the fullness of his love, and that’s what he called us to do more than anything, to love each other in and through all circumstances.

    I am so glad you are open and searching. Know that there are people here who will walk alongside you and not judge. Putting the pieces of your stained glass window back together sounds so lovely. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s all done! I do know that it’s going to be fabulous!

  110. So I came across you blog from a link on Pinterest that led me to the beautiful story about the birth of your second daughter. I have been popping in from time to time and have been incredibly inspired by the beauty of your life. I am moved to tears by this post. I grew up Catholic Monday through Friday and Methodist on Sunday. Hell and condemnation were all I knew of Jesus and trying to live up to impossible standards lead me to the mindset of, “well if I am headed to hell I might as well have fun!” I was as naughty as I could be and unfortunately most of my late teens and 20s are a hazy blur. I woke up with a beautiful baby girl in my arms at 26 years old and the softest of whispers that simply begged “come home”. That began my search to find Jesus. What I found was not judgment or rules but mercy and grace. So much mercy and grace that I am now work at a church as the director of Children’s Ministry and it is my mission to give all of the children that I have been blessed to speak into that beautiful picture of the God that as you so beautifully pointed out, “loves you simply for existing”. I am not even sure why I am sharing this with you and all of these strangers over the internet. I just know that Jesus seriously needs new PR and you are a perfect representation of His truth and you don’t even know it. Thank you for your faithfulness is sharing your story.

  111. Praying for you! Adrien (fom 8:06am) said exactly what I was thinking.

  112. Oh. Do I feel the weight of this post/topic. Your past church experiences don’t sound like what God should be. Good, whole and wonderful. Thank you for still seeing good in churches of the world. Based solely on what I read of you on this blog I think you are a good person and a good mother and a great contributor to good on this earth. Most of your written experiences lift me and cause me to be better. Thank you!

  113. Oh Kelle,

    what your church taught is NOT the gospel. It makes me sad to read b/c i believed these same things for so many years and only just a few years ago did I truly understand the gospel for the first time. Jesus did it for us. He lived that perfect sinless life that you and I could never do. He died the death that we deserve for our sin. Our only “job” is to believe this. Obedience flows from this. We don’t obey to earn God’s love. I thought for so many years that that was how it worked.
    We are sinners who can never “do” enough for God. He loves his children because of Jesus. We are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness if we believe in him and when God looks at us he loves us and doesn’t count our sin against us b/c that price has already been paid on the cross.
    II Corinthians 5:21 For our sake He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    I was blown away after reading Tim Keller’s book The Prodigal God.

    And The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones does such a great job of showing the beauty and simplicity of the gospel.

    thanks for reading :)

  114. First- Your dad is amazing and I love that despite all that, he can still love God. It’s pretty rad. Secondly, you’re not alone in this struggle. And since we are sharing (we are sharing, right?!) here’s what I think…The Birth of Nella was no fluke (your sister is right!). Your following of fans was no fluke. You having witnessed that hate towards your dad? also no fluke. From an outside perspective, you weren’t put on this earth to follow a book or organized religion, full of parents’ and pastors’ and other peoples’ personal translations of what God wants or to learn right from wrong; to serve; to have compassion and to love others– you are a good human and good humans do that. Instead, I think you were born to seamlessly lead people into loving and accepting ALL people (because maybe this God guy thinks the masses have been lead astray.) 😉

  115. I grew up with a mix of faiths and had the same fears and questions. I remember sitting up at night around the age of 5 just watching for the rapture so I could warn my family. I had nightmares, scary images. I’d constantly worry I would die and go to hell if I didn’t do my prayer every night or obey whatever.

    As a young adult I quit church and god and left it behind. My husband and I tried checking some out after a time of difficulty in our lives. We kept leaving the churches after a few sundays because we’d find the same stuff. Preaching about how BAD gay people are how they will BURN in hell. One pastor even told everyone we were lucky to live in an area where there were no Muslims because we all know they’re terrorists and god haters. I believe we walked out mid sermon.

    Many years later I have peace. I pray – sometimes. I try to live a good life but I don’t stress it. I don’t shove bible stories down my child’s throat but we read some. We don’t acknowledge Christmas as having anything to do with Jesus because I don’t believe it does anyways.

    It’s a journey and we’re all just trying to figure it out. I am confident to say that whatever happens when I die I am OK with at this point.

  116. Sounds like your faith got stuck in the Old Testament and you were never told about God’s love and Grace. Yes, He is a God to be feared and respected but He is also a forgiving, loving God. He didn’t give us rules to make us feel horrible, but as guidelines to have the best we can out of life. And even though, we may disagree with others’ lifestyles, we are to love them like Jesus loves our selfish, flawed selves! Read the New Testament in a new and open light, accepting the grace that God has for you and the love He expressed through the death of His own son. Imagine giving up Dash for others’ sins, that’s how much He loves YOU! Prayers!

  117. In my opinion that is what is wrong with organized religion. One can feel a strong connection to God and live his/her life in a Godly way if they choose…without having to go to a church which judges and condemns people. Religion should be a very personal choice and knowing right from wrong is the best gauge of living a good, decent life not following strict bible/church doctrine which tends to discriminate and judge. The feelings you struggle with are completely normal and you should be praised for being so open and honest. As your father is a clergy man I’m curious how he deals with such conflicting views? Thanks for sharing your feelings..many of us can relate.

  118. So I’ve been creeping on your blog for a while now, loving you and your family. This post. I can’t even. My father was/is a reverend in a church very much like you described and when I was old enough to decide for myself whether to attend, I split. But it took years (and I’m still working on it) to leave behind the stress, the fear and guilt of my non-church, not at all horrible life. I feel like you wrote exactly what I’ve thought and felt, things that no one I know understand. Awesome-sauce. I’m “recovering” right there with you.

  119. I feel this post, I see myself in it. I grew up in a very traditional Irish, Catholic family. I went to Catholic schools. My experiences with religion then weren’t as harsh, however the undercurrents on sinning and being righteous in order to be loved were there. My Dad is gay, he came out and left my mother when I was 15. I can imagine we would have a lot to share on what that experience is like. A lot to share on rebuilding family openly and honestly, so that we are all loved as we are and not how we think we need to be in order to be loved. On grace and forgiveness and being human. I’m now raising two little girls who would never believe anyone, much less God, could not love the Grampy they adore so very much. But it’s still an open ended journey for me on when, and how, I would (could) find my way back to organized religion. Thank you for this.

  120. No one has all the answers and faith can be complicated. Trust in a loving God and let Him transform you. It’s a journey…not a destination.

  121. This post resonates so strongly with me. As a child, I was always terrified of being “left behind” and struggled with the same feelings of imperfection. This post personifies my childhood!

  122. dude, I am beyond impressed with your resilient spirit that you have been able to be a loving, functioning, happy mother and human despite being taught all that crazy stuff about God when you were little. Iran that is just crazy! I think your current feelings and views about Him are spot on. in our church and beliefs our most basic doctrine (which every other important belief falls under and is effected by) is that god is our LOVING Heavenly Father. loving us unconditionally, no matter what, just like we love our children unconditionally. knowing his true nature changes EVERYTHING, wouldn’t you say? that’s how I view it, anyway. the way we act, the way we think, the way we treat others, the choices we make, the perspective we have. everything hinges off of the beautiful truth that we are Gods children and nothing could ever separate us from His love. sins, mistakes and all. love your words and admire your courage.

  123. So perfectly written! It’s as if you were taking my exact thoughts that are in my mind and expressing them in writing (in a much more eloquent way). Thank you so much for being so open and honest about your feelings on this subject! It is so nice to know I’m not alone, or a sinner for having these feelings.

  124. * I mean * not Iran :)

  125. Yep , I can relate to everything you say. At age 34 I am finally learning that I don’t have to take every word of “religion” as my truth. I have decided to let in good and leave the bad of Christianity…
    Knowing you, reading the Bible for yourself, and ignoring man’s interpretation would let Jesus be the author and perfector of your faith- as a verse says!

  126. Wow. All this just shows me how little I know about a whole part of America and Christianity. My sister in law used to live in Texas and talked about how the second question people would ask after your name is “what church do you go to?” It’s a culture so far from mine in the UK, very interesting to get a window in to. Thank you! I’ve LOVED deep week! 😀 x

  127. Phew is right. This post is exhausting to read through but interesting. Keep searching Kelly. I do not use the word religion or christian anymore and reading these comments confirms I will continue not to. I have a faith and relationship with my Lord and Savior. I believe the Bible as the truth. I have listened to the debates, theology vs. Science. We make “Christianity” difficult, not God. So sorry what and how you experienced God. It certainly isn’t suppose to be like that. Thank you for this extremely open and honest post.

  128. As I have gone through a lot of what you have written about, I think about how religion is the human way of trying to make sense of what we can’t make sense of, like government, or any other powerful organization. As we are all flawed, so are those who have established religion. At this point in my life, I try to look past those flaws and see the good in whatever we call church. Gathering, praying, positive energy (hopfully this is what all churches aim to emit), inspiration, and love. The other stuff that judges, condemns, and hates- I have to forgive. And the more I forgive it, the more I am able to forgive myself, and see that we are all trying to do our best, even the church… some people (and religions) just need more time, forgiveness, positivity, and encouragement from people like you and me to keep on changing, to see the light. Because the more down I get on the establishment, the more it defends its own flaws and viewpoints. When I can accept, encourage, and forgive the church, I may in turn inspire others (and the church) to accept, inspire, and forgive me. I can’t give up on church, as flawed as it is, because that would be doing the same thing as it has done to its flawed people.

  129. So far, almost all of the comments talk about believing in Jesus and if you just believe in Jesus everything is fine. I am curious to know what everyone thinks happens to all of the people in the rest of the world who worship different gods. The Christian world I grew up in didn’t even allow for Mormons or Catholics. This is the one thing I had the most trouble with as a Christian. I could not wrap my head around someone going to hell just because they weren’t born into the right country or family to hear about Jesus. I see a lot of grace here on the different ways Christianity can play out, but I don’t see anything that allows for other religions like Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism (just to name a few)to factor into being ok spiritually. I would like to think all people matter, whether they have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross or not. And they still matter even if they never accept Jesus. Being Americans, most of us don’t realize that in other countries, Christianity is not the main religion and those people think they have the truth too and Christians are doomed because we believe in and worship the wrong god. I guess this is why I reject it all, nobody has a clue what is true or not true as far as god(or no god) goes. Who are we to tell each other what to believe. If you choose to believe in Jesus, great! But some people choose different gods or no god, and that is great too. As long as your belief doesn’t interfere with my life, I have no problem. If everyone would just treat everyone else with kindness and respect this world would be such a wonderful place. No need to separate between us and them, with religion or anything else.

  130. “It’s kind of like shark week but with less blood.” Ha ha–love this!

    Girl, what I wouldn’t do for a coffee & a hug & a long conversation with you, with kids underfoot & food & mess & not enough sleep & the quenching that comes with sharing & another set of hands to tenderly pick up some of those shards of glass & help you figure out how you want to design your stained glass windows by simply listening, reflecting, & reminding you that what you create with your beautiful past & questions & unravelling your beliefs & revealing your faith–all of it is beautiful, vital, & is a thing of beauty to everyone else who gets to lay eyes on it.

    My early God experiences were so similar, what with the rapture sweats & the overarching sense that I would never ever ever measure up. Dammit.

    I am so sorry you felt those things. And that your precious nine-year-old heart was so pained by the exclusion of your daddy. “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” I for one am so grateful for the beautiful example & legacy your own Dad has given you of God. Seriously.

    Keep shining, sweet mama. We can see your light & so can He, and you are so loved. SO loved.

    Now, about that coffee….
    wanna come to Vancouver Island in beautiful BC, Canada sometime? 😉

  131. The line about you not being able to eat with your dad just about did me in this afternoon. I’m so, so sorry that happened to you as a child.

    Our relationship with God is such an interesting thing, you know? It’s for YOU and Him to figure out … and no one else. I think beyond all the noise, there’s a quiet and peace that comes and fills the room. It sounds like you are on that path now. Or perhaps you’re not. Who knows. Ultimately, it sounds like you have some peace about this. And THAT is always a good thing.

    Loved this post.

  132. “I think God is in the clearing.” So beautiful. Thank you, Kelle. As someone who was raised in a Christian cult, I empathize and relate with so much of what you wrote here. Thank you for your courage in telling this story. It reminds me of the beautiful quote by Elie Wiesel, “No heart is as whole as a broken heart and I would say no faith is as solid as a wounded faith.”

  133. What a relief to be able to roll along, openminded and figuring stuff out, after so much fear. I hope I never have things ‘figured out.’ I like the journey, the unknown, the thinking about it all — and I know you do too, mama. I love when you share bits of your process and self-examination. It always comes out so beautifully with so many relatable nuggets. Love you lots.

  134. I have followed your blog for years but never left a comment… Every time you talk about religion, I feel like I am reading my own thoughts and questions. Even though our past experiences with religion are very different, I am right there with you! Anyway, the whole point of my comment was to ask if you’ve read “Love Wins” by Rob Bell. I’d never read a “Christian book” before this one, but I recently read it and it was so refreshing and discusses so many of these issues from the perspective of a real, honest dude (who happens to be a young pastor, but a super liberal one.) It was a total game-changer for me and how I view hell, religion, and just love, for that matter. Apparently he got a ton of scrutiny for the book, but I promise, it’s definitely worth the read!

  135. Thanks for sharing so openly. I am so sad for you and your experiences, especially at such a young age. How tragic that some people don’t realize that God put us on this earth as imperfect beings, and He loves us as those imperfect beings.

    HUGS!

  136. I struggled with extreme guilt for basically existing as a child. i remember thinking there is no way god wants me around. so i spent 10 yrs running from it and questioning my faith. as i grew i realized it wasnt my faith but my parents interpretation of it. so i returned to my faith. and even though my mom believes in the same thing i do, i cannot for the life of me bond with her in faith and if anything i dont like to hear her speak of it. it sounds terrible but it is what it is.

  137. I loved this post! Whenever I am in the Catholic church it always just seems to “rehearsed” to me. Just people responding like robots. I wholeheartedly believe in God, but do not think that going to church every Sunday and reciting the same thing over and over is going to get me into Heaven. Hopefully, I will be getting there by my actions and by how I treat my fellow human beings.

  138. Kelle, oh how your post resonated with me today!! I grew up Mormon, and while I have great memories of my childhood I can look back now and see how messed up some of the doctrine really is. The hardest part for me came when I was a teenager, my dad had come out, my parents were divorcing. They were the 1st in our ward to divorce and oh the looks and the whispers that would follow us. People who had been our best friends started to treat us like we had some kind of disease or like divorce was contagious. And now our “forever family” which we only got if we all made it to heaven as one intact unit with my priesthood holding father at the head of it was gone. We wouldn’t go to the Celestial Kingdom and we wouldn’t spend eternity together. I can’t tell you how much that affected me or how much anxiety that invoked. I lived with it for years until after I got married. I had nightmares. I would be crying, sobbing in my sleep. My husband would wake me up and try to assure me that I wasn’t doomed to hell just because of my father but it was so ingrained in me I couldn’t believe him. Eventually I left the Mormon church, followed my husband to Catholicism. It has it faults too but I have to say I LOVE Pope Francis! He is a breath of fresh air to the church! I don’t know if you read his interview that came out the other day but I encourage you to do so.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/pope-bluntly-faults-churchs-focus-on-gays-and-abortion.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

    My favorite quote comes at the end: “This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people,” he said. “We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.”

    Best of luck to you Kelle. This journey is long and interesting and at times heartbreaking. For me, I’ve chosen to Love God and to love my neighbors as myself to the best of my ability. Everything else I believe is just gravy!

  139. wow.. i enjoy reading your blog every time there’s a new post and i do it faithfully! You’re such an inspiration to others and it saddens me to know you were taught this skewed perception of God. God loves us regardless of what we do, say, think, etc… He just does and all He asks of us is that we believe in Him and follow Him. that’s #1! all the rest falls into place because you want to because you love Him. (((Hugs))))

  140. Holy Moly…literally. Sounds like you are doing this right. Lots of healing, thinking and forgiving. Hugs friend. ( Oh…and it’s incoming. Monday. Finishing touches.)

  141. Kelle, I love this post. My faith upbringing wasn’t as extreme as yours (thank goodness my parents never really seemed to buy in to my church’s teachings…they went because the minister was a friend of my dad’s), but it shares a lot of the same themes. It takes a lot of time and strength to train yourself to think differently…For example, I still find myself kind of subconsciously believing that when something bad happens to me, it’s because God/the Universe is punishing me for something I did.

  142. Kelle,

    You are right, you will never be good enough for God. None of are. Being human is synonymous with being a sinner, so yes, we are all condemned to hell for sin. The Bible clearly teaches that God is a God of wrath towards those who sin against him. The Bible also, clearly teaches that God is a God of Love. We cannot separate the two. Think about it in this way, you love your family, your kids, your husband….but you would hate and abhor anything that tries to harm them. It is the same with God. The gospel is called “good news” for reason. It is good because God made a way for us all to rescued from our sin and from punishment of sin, and that is through faith in His son Jesus Christ. “God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 The message of the gospel is not what we have done for God, it is supremely about what God has done for us. Sadly, this truth is misrepresented in the Western Church. Good works will not get anyone into heaven, only faith in Christ.

    I would like to encourage you to read the entire book of Romans. Ask God to reveal himself to you through his Word.

  143. I felt like you after a childhood of Catholicism. After a 20s of reflection and asking myself the tough questions, I came to realise I was an atheist. A world without a god or gods is the only one that makes sense. I have become more accountable, more moral, more content than I ever was in the past. Religion works well for many people but by its definition it has to leave someone out. That doesn’t sit well with me anymore so i describe myself as humanist now, I believe we are here by happy accident, for just the blink of an eye and we should make as many people as happy as we can, just for the sake of it. It’s an incredibly liberating and life affirming philosophy and i think you would get on very well with it

  144. I have heard of so very many experiences like your own. Your story of sitting at a separate table from your father is just the kind of thing that makes the tears roll down my face, and I truly believe that it brings sadness to the heart of God as well. When I hear stories like this, I think of my own faith journey and how I think we all have these moments where we see religion for what it truly is. I am happy to say I had a wonderful experience growing up in church, and I am confident in what I believe now. There are still many questions, many concerns, and many tears when I hear of people destroying the lives of others in the name of God and church. I don’t know if you pray, but I do, and you are in my prayers. Prayers that you will find peace, understanding, and confidence, and that will bring you out of your cardboard box. :)

  145. I usually stray or resist religious conversations because I never want to be perceived as that goody Christian girl who thinks its just that easy to love Christ/God and be a good person. Because that is SO not me! The truth is, it is harder than not knowing Christ at all. The Christian walk is a hard one that begins with knowing who YOU are in the Lord and where YOUR relationship stands with Him. You are the ONLY one who can tell where it stands :) I am glad that you are searching to find that!
    My husband is in Christian Music, and I will tell you this….even being surrounded by it daily, there are so many NORMAL, UNPERFECT people ( myself freaking included), and I LOOOOOVE it. We are all this walk of life together ( gay people included 😉 Don’t let Jesus make you feel imperfect or like you are going to hell. That is what the cross was for! Not to make us live in fear that our every move would send us to Hell if we didn’t repent 24/7. That is impossible, friend! It is how people present Him to you that makes you feel that way ( in my opinion). He is the same always!!

    Love your honesty! Thanks for sharing….great read for me today!! :)

  146. I like this discussion! Thanks for letting us into your world. This is something most of us think about, but don’t really have an outlet to talk about. I hope you keep sharing your journey with us. I sure appreciate you! Megan

  147. Having grown up Catholic, I too struggle with my relationship with God. After having kids, and now after some challenges in my life, I’m seeking out the meaning of this. And do we start teaching our children about religion? How? When? The whole thing terrifies me. Any one have any advice on introducing religion to a family who has never spoken the Lord’s name in their house (our kids are 7 and 5)….
    -sarah, editor, http://www.mamalode.com

  148. I was never raised like you but I just didn’t understand our church. I believe in a God and believe in being good to others and doing right. I just don’t follow any particular church. I hope you don’t take offense to this, I found it kind of funny (which I’m sure it isn’t to you) reading about your experience because it reminded me of the Waterboy where everything is the “Devil”. Essentially that is what you were taught. I’m glad you are in a better place with God though.

  149. I understand what you’re saying, I had a very similar experience with similar sounding lovely but wrong people. It’s hard and I’m still struggling to work it out for myself. Thank you so much for sharing. I live in hope that God isn’t who I think he is and is who I hope he is. Your post and honesty really moved me xxxx

  150. holy cow! that story about sitting at a different table from your dad? That is so sad! I’m so glad you are not there anymore. Lots of luck on your spiritual journey ahead!

  151. Amazing post. As a doubtful, questioning, trying to find her way Catholic and raising two boys to be loving Christians and catholics but without all the crazy and icky…THANK YOU.

  152. As I started to read this blog I could not believe that children were brought up in this abusive way. As I was reading all I could think of is “Thank God for the way I was raised and that I am Catholic!” Then before finishing the reading I scanned down to the last enrty at that time and the one from ’emiliek’ said what I was thinking. That was so sad to think you were poisoned from the goodness of God by all that horribleness! That pained me to read. You are one smart woman tho and your journey to have a relationship with our loving Lord is wonderful! I hope you can find a loving Church and I recommend the Catholic Church. My nephew lives in Naples and he has brought many to the Church. He is a very Godly man…was thinking of the priesthood then married and has a beautiful family. (Two girls, 3 and 2…your girls could have new girlfriends!) If you need to talk to someone I would gladly give you his #. He is a great spiritual communicator.

  153. I have just started reading Joyce Meyer’s “God Is Not Mad At You” I am on my own journey trying to become closer to God again and I am findng it very comforting. (don’t be fooled by the title – it’s not all like it sounds :) )

    Also – thanks for all of your posts, they always leave me feeling warmer inside :) Have a wonderful weekend

  154. I’m so sorry you had such a difficult first experience with religion. I have had my own struggles, ending up basically an atheist for almost a decade before recently returning to faith and even religion (Catholicism!!) in my own life. God shows us the way :) This was an inspiring post. Thanks. – Amy

  155. Bless you. I’m not even sure if you read all your comments…but thank you for posting. Can relate completely. I too lived in a world of guilt for years. All the way into my 20’s. Pretty sure that’s not how Jesus intended for us to feel. Still trying to figure it all out.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  156. It is in our weakness that we can recognize our need for God. But, it is also true that God’s love is unconditional, loving us despite our humanness. That is grace. I am in love with God’s grace.

  157. I can relate to much of what you wrote here. My favorite part? That your dad sat in the booth behind you. I love that. That’s love. Fine, you won’t sit WITH me? I’ll sit as near to you as I can. He sounds like a loving dad to me.

  158. Wow Kelle. Your past is heart breaking to me. I definitely believe everyone is on their own path but being taught things like that is so damaging as you said. My Bible says you are saved not by works and not by repenting. But by believing. That’s it! And why? Becaus of His GRACE! I’m surprised you haven’t turned from faith all together being brought up with those teachings. The part about your Dad made my heart sink. Think about how much you love your babies. We are Gods babies! He loves us more which blows my mind! Having children made Gods love for me so clear. Also we are free from sin because God himself in the form of Jesus paid the price. All of it. Done. For His children. Thank you so much for sharing. Your readers love you!

  159. Wow…..We are all on the same side & I love your present perspective..My heart goes out to you & the difficulties you experienced in childhood. Tears welled up when I read your story about being in the diner with your siblings & Dad, so sad & what a incomprehensible
    concept for a 9 year old.
    You’ve come a long way, girlfriend & keep on keeping on.. My love is with you, must have been a tough post,

    xoxo
    cathy

  160. I think you’d enjoy brennan manning’s writing. Ragamuffin gospel and Abbas child are two great books. In a nutshell … God loves us for no good reason. How relieving.

  161. Being told as a child, by a parent/pastor/adult authority figure that you had to shun someone-and that you and your siblings were forced to shun your dad-sitting in a separate booth for goodness sake-is totally screwed up. I hope that you have found a way to forgive those people-especially your Mother for forcing it and your Father for going along with it. Forgiveness and peace go together hand in hand, no matter what your religious belief is.

  162. You are such an inspiration and light to so many people. Your vulnerability is something incredibly special. You are able to put into words what most of us can only feel in our hearts or see in our minds. I have more than once come to your blog feeling down and like the world is against me, and there in your words, I find that small place of peace.

    I know that our faith past can change who we are and how we feel. And even if you aren’t sure about Jesus, He is pursuing you in love everyday. Church people hurt people. Religous people are mean and hypocrites. It’s not about being churched or religous. It’s about being like Jesus. Loving everyone. And I mean everyone. That is the most important commandment. Love God with all your heart and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself. And even when we run away, when we doubt, when we are unsure about God and Jesus, He’s there loving us through it. He knows what we struggle with. He sees even the parts of us that we hide from ourselves. And without you maybe meaning to, you have taken a really awful past faith experience and you are touching so many people. You are the exact testimony that Jesus wants you to be. A person that even after that is so full of love, mercy, grace, and joy. Because God wants His children to be happy. No matter how long you struggle with those feelings, no matter how long you are unsure about Jesus and the Bible, you are loved beyond measure. Your acceptance of people just as they are, it’s such a gift that so many people lack. No one has the right to judge others. It’s not their job. It’s our job to pour our love out on everyone and to serve everyone we come in contact with. LOVE LOVE LOVE. That’s it. And that’s not so hard! If you are ever interested, you should check out newspring.cc. It is a church that is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It’s all about reaching out to those that most churches turn away. No pressure, just wanted to share the love because it’s changed my life like I never thought possible. I love you and love that you are so open with us. YOu have touched more lives than you could know!

  163. I really dislike how some churches leave such fowl tastes in peoples’ mouths, but it’s true. It’s true that no church is perfect – no matter if they are preaching accurate doctrine or not. Humans are just un-perfect. We are born sinners & we need a savior. Period. But to live by a set a dos and don’ts is NOT is what will send you to heaven/hell. The ten commandments are meant to show us that we CANNOT live a perfect life, but that Jesus DID, and He died so that you may be saved and enter the narrow gates. My husband grew up Mennonite and he fights with all his might over such legalism. He was under the assumption as a child that once he surrendered his life to Christ, that he would no longer sin. So imagine his shock when he kept on sinning, and felt hopeless because of it! The thing is, we are human – we WILL sin. A true believer will be known by his/her fruits and the gradual course of sanctification – being more like Him. Our mind-set changes once that conversion takes place. We still love the things we used to, but they no longer reign over our lives and our priorities shift. Anyway – I really didn’t mean to preach, but this hits so close to home and it really does irritate me when one church experience “ruins” it for the great bible-preaching churches out there. Enjoy your journey of finding Him.

  164. This blog made me cry. My Dad is also gay and for a long time my pastor Grandfather made it clear that it was not okay and I should not be okay with it. I’m almost 26 now and it wasn’t until a year or so ago that I reached the conclusion that God doesn’t want me to hold a grudge against my Dad. In fact, it’s the opposite, He commands me to love him.

    Sometimes people like to pick and choose which pieces of the bible suit their needs and wants but the truth is that the bible says EVERY ONE sins and falls short of the glory of God. We can’t spend our lives trying to be perfect. But we can spend our lives choosing to love. <3

  165. All I can say right now is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been reading your blog for a long while now, I’ve never commented. But, I feel so compelled to just thank you for your honesty.

    This church that you speak of may not have been ‘every’ church but, let me tell you – I went there too. It has played such a huge role in who I am. Fighting the thoughts of imperfection daily. It plays into everything I do. Learning that God loves me for simply the fact that I exist. I can’t wrap my head around that. Oh I am trying!

    So, thank you for sharing your heart. For speaking in a way that makes so much sense. For being a beacon of hope that, thank goodness, I’m not alone. We are not alone.

    – Jacki Brown

  166. @Moosefan,

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I have to add that my mother never forced us to do anything. Long and crazy story–too long to explain here without details being left out or misconstrued. My mom and dad were both two hurting individuals during that time, and I have never held either of them responsible.

    No blame in this game and forgiveness for everyone during those years comes pretty naturally for me.

  167. A couple books recommendations if you’re interested, Soul survivor how I survived the church by Phillip Yancey and The Jesus I never knew also by Phillip Yancey.

  168. A couple books recommendations if you’re interested, Soul survivor how I survived the church by Phillip Yancey and The Jesus I never knew also by Phillip Yancey.

  169. YES, yes, yes, yes yes yes yes!!! Sitting on the same side of the table as you and seeing exactly as you see, I’m sorry this is how things unfolded for you, because I know how hard it is to live through and process. Nothing in my life has been more painful than giving up on the religion I thought was the only way. So, thank you for speaking out; as someone who really wants nothing to do with the traditional ‘church’ now, for the reasons you named and so many more, you’ve revived my spirit a bit today and give me hope that there’s more of us out there, looking to spread love and community in a new, kinder way. Thank you Kelle. You are exactly the kind of person I want to emulate and hope to be, and reading your blog has been more “church” to me over the last few years than going to a building on Sunday mornings ever was.

  170. I think I can say that I experienced a version of that in my own childhood. I still attend church (but a different denomination that I “fit” with in a better way) but I still struggle mightily with religion even though I LOVE my church and most of the people in it. I lost my daughter in 2006 and I heard lots of condolences but someone in my family actually suggested it was because someone in our family, ancestors somewhere along the line, had sinned. Maybe even a long time ago but that her death was retribution for that sin. My immediate thought was complete and utter repulsion and anger and then just awe at the daftness of such a comment. I mean was she talking about Adam and Eve? I hope so because I think since that incident in the Garden of Eden, we have been off the hook for “payment” and we are all victims of living in a fallen, sinful, imperfect world where like you said, God loves us simply for existing. Because how could a Loving, Merciful, Grace extending God that I never questioned before take my sweet, innocent baby from this world? Away from a family who wanted her? To teach me/someone a lesson? To lead someone else to a greater purpose? I mean I am all for the good and the blessings that abound in my life because of her death but to suggest that her life was taken from her FOR someone else was not comforting to me at all. I could not reconcile these things in my head and I was shaken to the very core and my Faith changed and grew, the way I talk to God changed and I chose to love people even though we disagree on what and who God is. Because bottom line….I think God is LOVE…..and that is enough for me. I don’t understand how it all works and to interpret how to be perfect either……so many Christians have their own definition of sin and I am often confused by the actions of many Christian people. I attend church because I am grateful for the community of people there who help each other, pray for each other, lift each other up and offer support. But even sometimes things get messy and complicated and I feel hurt and confused and I know if it weren’t for this particular community, I probably wouldn’t attend church. Thanks for sharing this and letting us all realize we aren’t alone in our walk of Faith that can so often be confusing and hurtful. I feel lucky to be focused on the “God loves us all” part! I hope for continued blessings to you and your sweet family.

  171. Wow! How I so appreciate your transparency. Try to imagine and embrace this thought, Jesus NEVER ever called us to be perfect. He is the only perfect one! He called us to come to him because we are imperfect. Jesus loves us where we are, even knee deep in our sin. He LOVES us unconditionally, and His desire for us here on earth is to feel at peace. He wants a relationship with us not so we can be perfect or sinless, He wants us dirty, broken, and vulnerable. He wants us to know that He loves us no matter what. He loves each of us despite our sins. He wants us desperately, in order to bring HIM glory, and we do that when we can point to HIM in our brokenness. If we were perfect, then we would have no need for a savior! He carries our sin so we no longer have to. God bless you and I will pray that you find peace where ever you are at in your journey. I am so sorry that you were made to feel that you were unworthy if you sinned.

    Kelly M

  172. Oh, Baby Girl.. (I get to call you that, ‘cuz I’m older AND because I LOVE that little girl that was hurt by the unTruths of God!) Kelle, WE are The Church. The Church is NOT a building or a group of people who believe in only certain things. I cried when I read about the “not eating” with Gays. SO Wrong!

    You know? I KNEW when I read that last post. I knew that it would ruffle some feathers. But, it also opens the door to TALK about Faith and our relationships with God! SO, Good On Ya’, for sharing your sweet soul!

    Now, I am a Born Again, Bible Believing Daughter of The King! And, I refuse to NOT love someone because of what “Religions” teach. See? It’s the Religion-thing that messes with people! That causes precious little girls to have nightmares about going to hell. {{How I wish I’d been there to hold that Little Kelle and tell her that she was Good! That she was Heaven-Bound.}}

    He Calls us, tells us to LOVE. He Teaches us to LOVE. And, Girl, I find Love All Over this little blog of yours!

    I have struggled and run far, far from Religion. When my 32 year old BIL committed suicide and I kept hearing references to suicide=hell, I split!

    There is NO way that a Loving Father, the very Father who Created my BIL, would send him to hell! Because in his deep despair, in his darkest hours, he just could no longer tolerate the pain.

    I know that God was right there with open arms to hold him as he left this earth and entered into Eternity.

    And so, after all.of.that I will tell you that I love you. And, He loves you. And, He Created the wonder-full, loving woman that you are! I hope you felt my Hugs! ~ Jo

  173. Kelle, I just want to fly to Florida (from MICHIGAN) and hug you!!! My (church) book club read Bloom in the spring and it garnered spirited discussion (and some tears). I love your honesty about the good, the bad and the ugly. I pray for you and your journey sweet lady.

  174. I think everyone struggles with faith, sometimes it is hard. I would say I have faith in a lot of things, that I am Christian in the sense of the loving and giving. I think it is something that only an individual can work out because everyone is different so their faith is different. There is a song I love by Adam Brand an Australian country artist called Blue Sky Cathedral. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AIm4Re7Igg
    I think this show more about the faith or religion I think about. That it is about seeing beauty around you, about loving family, friends and community rather than about a church. I kind of think God didn’t make churches people did but he did make this beautiful world we live in so appreciate and love in it. I love all your posts, the lighter side, the family stuff and the deep stuff. I think everyone wants to know what others are thinking and have those uh-ha moments when they agree.

  175. Bless you! This. This is an amazing post–thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and honest, especially in a public setting. Thank you for sharing your story. You are such a light in this world!

  176. I am so sorry that you were hurt. It makes me hurt, and I don’t even know you other than what I read on your awesome blog. I hope my comment feels like a hug, too, when I repeat what other kind people have been telling you… Jesus loves you. Just as you are. You are completely understood. He does not rush you, he does not ask you to be in a different place than the one you are in. I love when you said that thing about being loved simply for existing being powerful. Oh my. it is. And He loves you just because He made you and you are you. I totally get what you said about feeling like an abused dog being asked to trust humans when you think about being able to just “let go and take it to God” right now. He gets that too. The cool thing? The Jesus I have surrendered my life to spent HIS life here on earth loving on the “abused dogs.” The beaten down, the depraved, even the cast out. So if that’s how you’re feeling, honey get ready, because you are just the kind of person He loves to love. Bravo for your honesty and vulnerability to let so many see into your hurting, healing places. You are seriously cool!!!!! :) Lots of love and blessings from a girl that doesn’t even know ya. :)

  177. I wanna belong to your church! Excellent post!

  178. thank you for sharing this.

    what’s great is that God’s love for us is not dependent on our knowledge of him/our having the answers to the questions/our getting it right. yes, we are loved simply for existing.

    love your imagery at the end of this too. thanks again for writing/posting.

  179. Kelle,
    I LOVED this post and one parable really comes to mind…the story of the prodigal son! Not the whole story of course but the welcoming home part where the father welcomes his child home with open arms no matter what had happened in the past. He threw a celebration and said my son was lost and now has been found.I picture God opening up his arms for you now…the past plays no importance, no matter where you come from or where you’ve been in the past he loves you no matter what and he longs for YOU! He accepts you for who you are with all your imperfections simply because you are his child. And that’s the great thing, we do not have to be perfect! I may be young (19) but my faith is the most secure thing in my life. I have been criticized because of my Catholic faith and I defend it often because the media very falsely portrays our beliefs (go figure!). Seriously read the life stories of some of the saints, many of their lives were anything but perfect…truly inspiring! The journey may be hard but it’s beautiful and I wish you all the luck in the world! Many hugs from Indiana! Welcome Home! “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase, Sometimes you just have to take the first step and find your wings on the way down. The Father will never leave you!”- So proud of you!

    “We are not the sum of our failures, but the sum of our Father’s love.” – Blessed John Paul II

  180. Oh girl. You are full of such big, deep thoughts this week. Shark week indeed!

    I was raised in a small Episcopalian church (which I always referred to “Catholic light” – all the fun, half the guilt). And what I learned growing up is that the world is full of a lot of grey – not black and white – but grey. Our family was full of grey. And what I learned – God still loves all of us. I cannot imagine a polar opposite experience, or rejection from our church family when my Dad went through rehab. It was messy. I was 12. I cannot imagine the imprint it would have left on my soul if it was a wrenching experience.

    I’m proud of you for searching deep. God’s there. Without judgement. Without fear. Without restrictions and judgement. Hugs.

  181. Thank you so much for being so open and honest in this post. A lot of it felt so close to home, I too struggle with myself and God. I always had a hard time ‘buying into it’ when I was a child, and was terrified of going to hell over every little slip I would make. I no longer go to church or read the bible and have never felt closer to God.

    Tawnya

  182. Dear Kelle,

    Please find time to check out Islam where intention matters most. Read Quran with an open mind and you will feel something illuminating inshAllah.

    Farhana

  183. I can only imagine how confused and heartbroken both you kids and your Dad felt sitting seperately at that restaurant as a child. I wish you the peace that passes all understanding as you take your faith journey.

  184. I can only imagine how confused and heartbroken both you kids and your Dad felt sitting seperately at that restaurant as a child. I wish you the peace that passes all understanding as you take your faith journey.

  185. Oh me…my heart just breaks….what you have been raised knowing of God is so far from who He is….I love that you are brave enough to share your life and experiences here and I pray that you will know, fully, the freedom from those false expectations of perfection and the fear that comes from that. <3

  186. Kelle, I have also experienced what I consider spiritual abuse. It has taken me years of research about Christianity, the fear/guilt tactics and brainwashing to come to terms with my feelings/trauma. I was just plain spiritual for a while but have slowly gravitated toward a more Atheistic worldview. It sounds like you may be on a very similar journey and I wish you luck!

  187. Kelle, I thank you for sharing that with us. I grew up with some similar teachings – lots and lots of judgement and fear. Our church used to go to a camp near Canton, OH every summer. Another church from Michigan would be there at the same time. You weren’t there by any chance? LOL In any case, I was hearing the same sermons. Man, I have some great memories of those weeks with cousins and friends, but at the same time it was probably some of the most terrifying times of my life. I will never forget getting my Air Supply cassette confiscated….that terrible devil music! 😉 To this day when I hear one of their songs, I sing at the top of my lungs in defiance! :)

    I hope you find peace and God’s love in your journey!

  188. thank you for this post…it says what i feel…grew up in the church with a lot of fear..i don’t think that is what God wants for us. it’s taken me a long time to get a little bit of a comfort level after much soul searching..as usual, you worded it beautifully.

  189. I’m so sorry for the spiritual abuse your little soul suffered. I had a similar experience as a child and God has remade my heart and redefined our relationship, throwing wide the doors of the tiny box others had put us in.
    You are right where you need to be.

  190. I just wanted to say that I loved this. I’m sure you touched a lot of people with it and I’m sure you’re going to get a lot of mean comments as well. Nevertheless, I loved it and I wanted to thank you for sharing it.

  191. Stay the way you are!! You are a beautiful person of truth!

    Church is a wonderful, wonderful thing and some people need it to help confirm their beliefs in a higher power. There are others however, and frankly I think there are more like you and me than the church going type, that have a very healthy belief in god or another higher power and do just fine worshiping on our own.

    It always struck me as odd that every time I would visit a new church, with a friend as a child, there was always someone that wanted to “save me”. I remember thinking. I don’t need “saved” or “found” I was never lost….

    I grew up Catholic, went to church every Sunday, said my prayers before meals and bed, went to confession, studied the bible, told my friends and family all about Jesus, God, and the holy spirit and what that all meant. Somehow though, because I was visiting a different religion than mine, I needed SAVING, and FAST!!

    I went to countless other churches as a child, teenager, and young adult and I met many amazing people. I even sang in a nondenominational band and a city wide Christian choir. The one thing I learned through all of it was that I am great with the big guy. I know him, I feel him and I don’t need anyone to “save” me. So, I will be just fine outside of the conventional church.

    I do believe that I will want to take my children to some sort of church because I believe that church and the bible are an amazing way to learn important things in life however, I will be choosing this church very carefully and will be making sure it is the kind of church that first and foremost teaches that GOD loves EVERYONE… No exceptions!!

  192. It is obvious that you have hit a chord with so many people. Thank you for being vulnerable and open.

    I grew up in a boring Methodist church where a “feel good” message was preached from the pulpit every Sunday. I got the feel good, do good, be a good person, upbringing, but I still screwed up.

    I looked for love from the wrong people and wanted desperately to be wanted and loved. It’s amazing how different yet the same, all our stories are.

    Faith is such a personal journey. It’s a journey that seems to be walked alone.

    Interestedly, what drove me to God, was not love or sin but a special needs child. I met a little girl who changed my world. She lived 7 years on this earth and never spoke a word or took a single step on her own, but she rocked my world in the best kind of way.

    I met her, and got mad at “God.” I wanted to know why a loving God would allow a little girl to suffer so much.

    And as much as I wanted to just forget about her, I couldn’t. But I started to really doubt what I believed.

    This “feel good God” that I thought I believed in, suddenly wasn’t so feel good anymore. I didn’t think it was fair.

    And I eventually opened up a bible and started studying. I wanted to know what His answers were. Why this little girl? Why did she have to suffer if He was in charge?

    And I learned that He didn’t make a single mistake. I learned that this world is only a portion of what we see. It is but a breath. I learned and found peace in greater things.

    Anyways, I can relate. In a different way. Not as dramatic and “Hell” bent as your upbringing, but the “all good….always happy” God wasn’t working for me either.

    Tomorrow we’re going to celebrate the 2nd birthday of this little girl’s baby sister. Ellie Kate died in December. I don’t doubt where she is or who she is with (even though before Ellie, I often feared Heaven as much as I did Hell….eternity anywhere didn’t sound good to me).

    I think I just wanted to say that I saw love and perfection and peace and joy in a little girl who the world would say is imperfect. Ellie changed me in the best kind of way.

    Wishing you peace tonight……though it sounds like you’re on your way to it.

    http://www.allisondalke.com/2013/05/ellie-kate.html

  193. Wow, thank you for sharing. I didn’t grow up going to church, per se. But always knew about God and Jesus. I currently attend a Bible believing/teaching church. I have NEVER known that God that you were taught. How sad and scary for a kid. Sure, we’re taught that God is powerful and mighty. But we’re taught that he is kind and merciful as well. Oh, we are also taught that we are never “good enough” without the blood of Christ. I would never even try, my good is nothing. God loves us just for being His children and accepting that His son died on the cross for our sins is our assurance. But we could never “lose” that….sure we all struggle and have our sins…all the time, every day! Thanks again for sharing.

  194. I just had to give you a big e-squeeze. I’ve written and deleted half a dozen comments. There are no words. Just deep understanding. Humans are so imperfect; to put so much pressure on us to do and be the impossible is enough to make anyone tuck tail and run! So sorry that was your experience. I hope you find a lovely church family (and again, no church will be 100% perfect whatsoever – I’ve battled gossip and bullying in churches because people have free will and make their own choices).

    Be blessed!!!

  195. Wow your church upbringing was hardcore nasty. Sorry but that’s just they way I see it. Nasty.
    There is a quote I grew up with – one of my mums favourites (I was a C of E/Methodist mix – our village had both and while we favoured the Methodist church we lived right along side the C of E so mum opted for diplomacy and we did both … Christmas Day was busy!)

    “The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God’s Heart in a garden Than anywhere else on earth.”

    Dorothy Frances Gurney (1858 – 1932)

    I have no time for Jesus, redemption or church. But god – me and him we have an understanding. I do my best. That’s all I have to offer. ‘My’ god knows that’s enough.

    I so so hope you find your god and peace. There’s no need to run to Jesus, you won’t loose your chance. Your not a sinner, your human. That’s cool. Life is good.

    Hugs xxxx

  196. Kelli… 2 books will change your life. Forever. I promise! Grace by Max Lucado and Unmerited Favor by Joseph Prince. I too grew up in a “sin busting” church / home. It was all we knew. Please please please read these books… you will see God, His Grace and your beautifully loved self, flaws and all, as never before. I had a 2 hour lunch recently with the almost 80 year old father of my (now deceased) lifelong friend. This man poured his heart out to me about how he didn’t see any way that God could love or forgive him for all the “bad” things he had done in his life. How was he ever going to see his son again in heaven if he wasn’t worthy to get there. He cried, I cried. And we talked and talked. Then I went home and ordered these books for him. He literally devoured them and is a changed man. He has a new found faith in a LOVING, MERCIFUL, FORGIVING God. He understands now that he doesn’t have to be perfect… he understands that it’s impossible and not required. He finally understands GRACE and is loving life in this new found freedom.
    Max Lucado GRACE… Joseph Prince UNMERITED FAVOR. Beautiful, Beautiful books full of hope and love.

  197. Hey Kelle, I’m sure you’ve touched a nerve here with many. I’ve had a similar experience with church in my life, not quite as bad as yours thank God, but unfortunately the underlying feeling in most churches I’ve ever been in, seems to be that the focus is on ‘you are sinners’, when i believe that the message that Jesus was trying to bring was that we are completely loved and accepted as we are, whatever we do, swear, fall down etc. We’re supposed to stop trying to ‘be something’ and be who we really are already, accepted, perfect, loved, same as God. It can be hard to get out of that mindset of trying to be perfect though. This is all close to my heart, I’m so glad that the world is changing and people are becoming more accepting and loving of one another. It must have been so hard for you to go thru that family conflict when its clear you are such a family girl. Thanks for your honesty xxx

  198. I want to thank you for sharing. I too grew up in some wacky churches…maybe not quite the same as your experience, but it really skewed things for me for awhile. These days I’m still involved in church, still love God…and still have my doubts. I actually sing at my church and there are times when I’m up there, going, “But God, I’m still a doubter?!” But then I feel like just choosing to believe when I still have questions…God honors that. God sees something valuable in that. I’ve tried to stop beating myself up because I’m more like a doubting Thomas than some great biblical hero. God loves the skeptics, too. And those steps of faith and little moves past confused feelings and to Him…He thinks that’s precious. Thanks for being so vulnerable. And yeah, in the end, we’re all just human. Not perfect. But we can choose grace.

  199. I am an Atheist, but I love people too. I really liked what you say here and me and my familt like to think we are good humanbeeings even if we dont belive in god. In Norway there are about 50% non belivers but it is still one of the best countries in the world to live in.
    I think the best for everyone is to respect eachother no matter how diffrent we are,we are all just humans trying to coexist on our planet.

  200. “God is in the clearing” Amen to that :) Are we invited to your little hillside chapel?
    I’m a pastor’s wife at a Presbyterian church in Egypt. I’m always struggling with my past and with how I’m expected (and supposed) to be, but what scares me most is the truth I want my son and daughter to live. God is Love, this is the one thing I never doubt.
    Thanks Kelle for sharing.
    Love,
    Riham

  201. They LIED to you!!!! About Hell, about God, about everything! They took the Bible and distorted EVERYTHING so they could control you. I’m so sorry…. God is everything beautiful. Mercy and kindness and gentleness and compassion, and Nella’s beautiful smile. But how could you know that when you were condemned and crushed with fear. God does love you just the way you are, just like you love Nella just the way she is. Because she is yours. and she is beautiful and she is “perfect”.
    Build your cathedral, I can’t wait to see it. I’m rather a fan of dandelions and daisies.

  202. People, they really are the rub in all this. But there is not Reichter scale for hurt. I have done clumsy, stupid, hurtful things to people with only what I thought was the best of intentions in my heart. Your intentions or your self delusions to not change the impact of harm. As I begin to understand that I cannot “9.5” someone else’s actions but “2.1” my own it helped me release (insert forgive if you so choose) and go forward. Every person has make their own choice about God.
    Weirdly I think we all have this idea that we have the one comment that will make the difference. Mabye that is arrogant but the over all effect is I do feel a little enriched by the discussion, so props Kelle.

  203. That was beautiful. I know what you mean, I’m also in a time of not knowing anymore.

  204. This comment has been removed by the author.

  205. Love and thanks to you for this one.

  206. I read some of the first few comments and they summed up my thoughts exactly. I like this vulnerable side of you. I love hearing about your kids and your life, but this is much deeper and I liked it, alot! Thanks for opening up and sharing with us. Amazing post!

  207. I came across this this morning and after reading this post last night I thought it was fitting:
    http://youtu.be/Vk2MpaTEzXw
    Since reading Bloom when it first came out, I have been praying that there would be healing in this part of your life. The church is far from perfect. It represents the messed up and broken people in the world far more than it represents God and Jesus, but it should be this type of community-where we can all share the grace and encouragement of His perfect and unfailing love for us. I continue to pray for you.

  208. Dear Kelle,
    I happened to come back to your blog this morning and found this post and felt compelled to comment. If for nothing else than to tell you that, whether you believe or not, whatever shape your belief takes, God loves YOU! He loves Kelle Hampton in all her imperfections for THAT is the reason He sent His son, Jesus to the cross to die for us. It is nothing we can earn. Fact is, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” and “By grace we are saved through faith, not of works…” This is what I believe!
    Is it HARD to believe this at times? Yes!! But, like the air I can’t see but that nourishes me and allows me to live and breathe each day, I try to see my faith and God in that vein. I do not HAVE to see Him to KNOW He is there and that it is His desire for me to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. I also want to say, I respect everyone’s beliefs…and I am sorry that the things you heard about God growing up caused you to think He wanted ONLY the perfect Kelle when in truth, He wants to redeem you–because He loves you! God Bless, Lori

  209. Wow, it sounds like they really socked it to you on that religion thing in your youth. I am a very happy, faithful, Roman Catholic woman. I love my faith traditions and all I have to say is, you must know your faith thoroughly to understand and love it. It’s like being on the very edge of the bed. The further you go the more likely you are to fall out. You always need to keep learning to truly understand your faith. And the bottom line is simple. God is love – love one another… If you have that kind of love you are doing all the right things. As for the traditions, they are over 2000 years old and so beautiful they bring tears to my eyes, so I embrace those too. You are so full of love. You get it!

  210. Wow. Thank you for sharing.

  211. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I grew up in the same way. I have very clear memories of fearing the rapture, cause I knew I wasn’t going. My family made it clear if I wasn’t perfect, I would be left. It brings tears to my eyes to know I wasn’t alone in that fear. I still struggle with it. This post meant a lot to me. Thanks, Kelle.

  212. Kelle,
    As many readers before me have said, I so respect your comments on a topic such as this. Overall, I had a *good* experience growing up in the Methodist and Lutheran denominations.
    As I got older, though, I could not find peace with a religion that excludes others on this earth of ours. I now consider myself a humanist.

    Much love to you and your family.

  213. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and love reading about your love for family and friends and seeing your wonderful photography. While my religious upbringing was different than yours, I can still relate. I grew up Catholic and alternated between Catholic and non-denominational churches in my early 20s, with some periods of heavy involvement and some periods of shying away. Now, I haven’t been to any church for over a year, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I still have morals and values, but I also have a strong distaste for organized religion. While many of my friends are faithful church-goers, I just have so many problems with the judgment, hypocrisy, and messages like you mention. Stuff like giving my problems up to God and he’ll heal me and comfort me.

    I’ve spent most of my adulthood (I’m 25) dealing with recurring depression, intense anxiety, eating issues, and self-criticism. Crying myself to sleep at night and begging God to take away my pain, to help me feel just a little better- because church, therapy, and trying hard wasn’t enough. And I had no relief; He didn’t do a damn thing.

    Now that I’ve been away from church and religion, am living my life helping at-risk kids, and finally found a medication that doesn’t have awful side effects, I am so happy with life. I still think I believe in God and his love, but I have no desire to get involved with the intense judgment that comes with organized religion.

    Thanks for your vulnerable honesty on this and other topics on your blog. I wish you the best <3

  214. I loved your post. So sad how you weren’t allowed to sit with your dad! My grandfather was gay but my family had the feeling of, love the sinner, not the sin, and accepted him and his partner into our lives. I wish that 9 year old you could have had that with your dad. I am so sorry for the experiences you had and how it made you feel towards God! You know, Jesus spent so much of his time with the outcasts- the sinners- the unwanted. The tax collectors, the prostitutes, the unfaithful. Those who were broken. I highly recommend Beth Moore’s study on Jesus- the One and Only. The audio lessons are awesome, but even if you just do the bible study homework- I think you’d get so much and learn so much about Him. I know I did! It even addresses Heaven. I don’t think we will sit around singing all day (totally agree, that does sound boring!) It talks about the feasts we will have in the Bible, and about our heavenly bodies, and how Jesus was able to eat- so it’s exciting knowing there will be food. Lol There’s no telling what else He has in store for us!

  215. I think it was very common for churches/religion to use guilt as a way to keep us in line back then. But churches today are changing a lot and not so much like that. My church starts off every week with the sentiment “God loves you the way you are.” You aren’t the only one who feels this way,,, but just know so many religious leaders are no longer that way. God Bless!

  216. I don’t comment often because you get so many, I’m sure it is overwhelming to read them. I hope you read this one. I think you have the basis of your next New York Times Best Selling memoir right here. The part about cutting off cousins, grandparents and your Dad…sitting in a separate booth than him because he was gay, and this was a sin? That was poignant, heart-rending. It made me suck in my breath. (and feel glad to know that you have healed the relationship with your Dad) I don’t use that word often. There are so many midwestern kids who are struggling with this. All the people who needed to read Bloom? There are another thousand of us who need to read “Into the Clearing” or whatever you title it. I know its hard, but this topic is so relevant for so many who grew up with a confusing faith. A second theme would be that nonacceptance of an important person in your life who happened to be gay. The path to healing that would be a story that other families could benefit from. So! I hope this encourages you to know that I hear you, and I am so glad to hear what you have to say.

  217. There is nothing wrong with not believing in God. I don’t think that you need to explain or prove your beliefs to anyone.

  218. Thanks for posting. You are always so honest and speak right to me, you know? My spiritual background is completely different…. being taught that we are, in fact, human beings who will make mistakes. There is no way we can be perfect, but we can always strive to be our best selves. I believe we are ever evolving and (hopefully) working toward being the person we each hope to be. I think He will fill in the rest because He loves us… All of us.

  219. Very brave. I go to a church that is a lot like a recovery program for people hurt by and apart from the church as youth and young adults. For me, I like to think God is that voice in your heart telling you that as is well and all will be well (and that maybe what “the church” is telling you isn’t right).

  220. This sounds similar to the kind of Christianity I was taught as a child, too. I had those childhood fears and nightmares, too.

  221. Thank you for sharing.

  222. I just devoured every word, shared it with my husband and felt profoundly moved by what you shared. Thank you for writing. I’m not sure you can grow up when we did, with a gay dad like we had, and come out NOT being church hurt. I have always felt so alone in my experiences, and I am still dazzled to have found you and your words. I continue to think you are so so brave for sharing.

  223. My favorite post so far!!

  224. To even believe in God as a savior is a very Western idea. That is so inculcated it seems in some folks from their upbringing – mine as well – that it seems almost impossible to let go of in some form. Well, either that or people swing completely the opposite way and become atheists. I note some commenters on here are of the take the Bible literally persuasion – the concept of Christ as the literal savior. The thing is, the Bible was never meant to be taken literally – it was a story of a people who were trying to understand God in a way that they could. To take it literally now is to misinterpret it. I agree with other commenters that people SHOULD research the Bible by researching what Biblical scholars – those who can interpret the original Greek and Hebrew – have to say about what it says. It’s fascinating and it’s rich but it is not literal. The times it was written in, the language it was written in – all of this has to be taken into account. Hmmm. I’m not trying to sound lecture-y! Really. It just seems to me that Americans in particular have been really sold on the literal interpretation – an interpretation by the way, that was not even considered until the early 20th century.

  225. “oh and I love this from Rumi:
    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I will meet you there.”

  226. I loved reading this post as well as your last. You so clearly put into words what so many struggle with. I am one who wishes I could believe in God. I envy people who have that support of strength. I tried. It took me well into my forties to feel comfortable to say that I am not a believer. Nature is my God and I strive to live a good life and be good to others. For me, this is enough. As for self doubt and those uncomfortable feelings… I guess we all struggle with that feeling. Love your blog. :)

  227. I just wanted to let you know….

    “listening to this story and thinking WHAT. THE. HELL. But then I repented later for thinking “What the Hell” because I didn’t want to go to hell.”
    –made me laugh because that has happened to me

    “we went to a restaurant and sat at a different table—just me and my siblings—while my dad sat alone in a booth behind us. I was nine.”
    –made me cry……I follow your Dad (and you!) on Instagram and his posts are always so uplifting and filled with faith…..knowing that, your story made me cry. I am so glad you two are close now (from your pictures & blog)!

  228. I began following your blog a while ago & never really understood why. I love your writing and your photography. Maybe that’s why. I’m not a mom & sort of felt like a fraud for enjoying your mom stories so much. We’re about the same age & I’m from south Florida – I guess I was content with these reasons. Then I read this post.

    I too have struggled with my faith. I started ignoring God in high school when I found out that my dad was gay. I pushed God away instead of my dad. It took me 14 years to find Him again. It was a long time but I needed it.

    I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t a good thing but it wasn’t bad either. It was my path and I had to venture on it myself. I had to experience things the way I did in order to really understand faith. I feel closer to God now than I did before. I don’t go to church like I did when I was younger but I feel more connected to God now. My relationship is between Him and I – no one is pressuring me anymore. Your searching is such an awesome beginning. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  229. Hi Kelle!
    This is heartbreaking to read, but thank you for sharing your journey. I just wanted to ask, have you ever spoken to Jehovah’s Witnesses? I think it might be worth your while, so many of the Christian faiths are twisting the Bible to say what they want it to, and not what it really does. And we don’t believe anyone goes to hell- there is no hell! :) Sheol is just the grave, there’s no eternal place of torment- why would a God of love do that, even to bad people? It’s one of my favorite things to teach people in our Bible education work.
    Anyway, hope your find what you’re looking for out there.

  230. I’m so incredibly thankful for your honesty, and willingness to share with such vulnerability. I wholeheartedly believe that the Lord absolutely adores you.

    May I suggest a book to you? Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller. One of my favorite quotes from his book – “When we stop expecting people to be perfect, we can like them for who they are.” Some find the book to be a little controversial, but I think it’s beautiful because it explains how Christian faith is not about following rules, trying to be “perfect” or constantly trying to live up to a certain standard…it’s simply about having a relationship with Christ. Definitely a freeing and incredible realization!

  231. You deleted my comments? Really? I wasn’t trying to be offensive. I love your pictures and some of your thoughts. You deleted Rumi’s quote? But there’s nothing more peaceful than that quote! Have you really taken God out of the box?

  232. Hey Kelle, thank you for your honesty. My Oma (Dutch Grandma) always says that people who are struggling with their faith in God are ALWAYS at a better place in life than people who simply don’t care. Struggling through it means that deep inside, you know God is important and worth the struggle. Know that you’re not alone in this and whether you believe it or not, God is there with you in the struggle.

  233. I’d avoid the JW’s though – although they have interesting thoughts on blood trasnfusions.
    I had a long chat with a lovely JW young woman by the subway this summer. Fascinating. Careful though, if you become a JW and then stop being one, you will be excommunicated.

  234. Kelle,
    Cool to hear where you on your journey…you kinda nailed it though…Jesus does love us just because we exist…I hope every day you are able to feel more and more the peace of knowing that and to see clearly the grace that he offers us for being completely human (sin and all)…great thoughts. keep on believing <3

  235. Our pasts our so different (my family apathetic sbout religion) yet the struggles to understand sooo similar. Thanks for the post.

  236. Our pasts our so different (my family apathetic sbout religion) yet the struggles to understand sooo similar. Thanks for the post.

  237. It’s sad that religion causes people to reject the very people who love us. It taught you to reject yourself and that is just wrong. I’m happy to hear you are on the mend.

  238. Beautiful post, Kelle. It reminded me of one of my very favorite quotes. This is from Rumi:

    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

    I’d like all of us to meet in that field, right by your hillside chapel.

  239. You are brave and beautiful. And I thank you.

  240. Hi Kelle,
    I’m sorry for what you went through, and I’m glad for where you’re at. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. My great love for my children has helped deepen my understanding of God’s love for me and everyone around me. When I kiss my littlest’s soft cheek when she’s asleep, I remember that God loves me too like that.
    Thanks for all you share,
    Julie (from Western Australia, your blog travels far and wide)

  241. This post really resonates with me and I totally get it. I was raised in a similar situation (except my dad was the pastor) and I still feel weird about church. Like you, I would have nightmares about missing the rapture and I’d constantly tell myself I’d have to be sure not to take the “mark of the beast” if I was left behind because then I’d be doomed forever. And forget about committing suicide – there’s a time where there is no death. That’s a lot for a nine year old to handle! My brother and I talk about this all the time now, how it was so hard growing up like this. I was never allowed to celebrate Halloween or go trick-or-treating. We had “harvest parties” at church when I was little and we all dressed up as bible characters (I was always Mary). We even stopped bobbing for apples because apparently that was something witches did and there was an evil spirit attached to it.

    I still feel that guilt you were referring to quite a bit, but I’m trying to learn that I don’t have to be perfect and I’m not going to hell if I make one mistake. But that stuff sticks with you for a long time, so I totally get where you’re coming from. And I’m there, too.

  242. How you’ll read all these comments, I’ll never know! I highly recommend “Soul Survivor” by Phillip Yancy. Sounds very familiar. You’ll really relate to that book….

  243. How you’ll read all these comments, I’ll never know! I highly recommend “Soul Survivor” by Phillip Yancy. Sounds very familiar. You’ll really relate to that book….

  244. @Karen,

    Your comment is still there.
    Look up a few. Beautiful Rumi quote. Thank you for sharing.

    ~K

  245. HUGS and thank you for your honesty…in life we all just have to find our own path…to me..hell is a place of no love because without love we are nothing..so yea once I understood that..I was a peace with what I thought. Sure not what Southern Baptist teach though….and on a lighter side about that rapture thing…this is a story so you can laugh at another person living in fear. Many years ago it was my Sunday for church nursery duty, which meant being there a bit early to get things lined up, and be there when children started to come in. It just so happened this was also day light savings first day as in SPRING FORWARD. Now my sweet husband knew my inability to change the clocks, so on Saturday morning he got up, and ran all the clocks up one hour but failed to tell me…and then he left for a week. Mean while knowing it was my Sunday to be at church at 8 am…I carefully changed all the clocks up one hour, set my alarm and went to bed. I got up at what I thought was 7 am, but it was gulp, 5 am. I dressed and drove the half a mile to church. I had left my son’s back home sleeping, which they knew I was going to do. I drove in misty odd fog, a strange lack of light, and I looked over to see the grocery store lights out, it was closed. I thought that was odd. I pulled into the parking lot, looked for the choir directors car, but no, it was not there. I looked at my watch, 8 am. I ran to the door, to my horror it was locked!! OH NO the rapture had happened, and I was left behind!!! I slowly drove home, I could not open my son’s door and look at their empty beds, surly God had taken them…I sat in a panic, then called my best friend who just happened to be the church secretary…her phone rang once, twice, three times, I started to cry then I heard her voice, a sleepy, “Hullo.” I burst out with my story of everyone missing, the store closed the church locked tight and we were left behind…and I heard, “Let me get this straight, you THINK the rapture has happened and your first thought is to call me, well thanks for that vote of confidence, and BTW, Marshall ran your clock up for you, didn’t he tell you or did you run it up an hour as well, because dear one, it’s not 8:30….it’s 6:30….” I hope you are laughing I liked to never lived that one down!!

  246. I’m so sorry, Kelle. With a story like that, no wonder you left church! I probably would have, too. This post totally made me want to give you a hug and fix everything from your past. Because guilt and condemnation are NOT why God put us here! As you’ve learned. :-)

    You are so loved — by God, by your family and friends and definitely by your readers and fans. Blessings to you on your journey.

  247. I’d have to say this is probably one of my favorite posts. It’s deep and raw in a way that’s different than Nella’s birth post, but so amazingly beautiful in its own right. To talk about religion, to talk about things that affect our loved ones, can be dangerous, but you do it here, so clearly with love. I hope that anyone who might be affected by this post can see your heart here.

    That said, I’m SO GLAD that even back then, you could see the WHAT THE HELL? because what you were taught is so.not.God. He’s a god of taking shards and rebuilding, a god “in the clearing,” who sure as hell wouldn’t want you sitting seperatly from your dad, who CREATED us TO BE human, scars mistakes and all. He knew we’d make them, and He knew we’d need Him to find our way out. I imagine he’s dancing in your dandelion filled clearing ecstatic you aren’t stuck in that box anymore, and he MOST DEFINITELY wants you to run around and find Him. Thanks for sharing, and I hope all your comments here (incl mine) feel like that big hug, and nothing else.

  248. Thank you for sharing & being so open. I’m growing up in church right now & I’m happy to say that mine is a lot different. We talk about our imperfections and how we’ll never really be perfect. However, instead of focusing on being flawless, we focus on God’s grace. He’s the one that makes us perfect, because he forgives. Of course, we try strive to in God’s footsteps, but will never go a day without messing up. I guess one thing to remember as you deal with the hurt is, God isn’t the one who did this. It was us imperfect humans. But, don’t be mad at your old church either, because they never intended to push you away.
    “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Trust and go to the Lord and he will never forsake you!
    -SC

  249. Faith is such a personal journey. You have to use your own special road map and make as many stops and starts as you need to.

  250. I grew up in the church and heard many hell, fire and brimstone sermons. I also had the fear if I sinned and did not repent immediately and died or the rapture came I was doomed to an eternity in hell. I think the church as a whole has screwed a lot of people up and messed up the whole idea of salvation. Thankfully as an adult I have come to know that God loves me just as I am and nothing can separate me from that love. The closest example I can think of is the love I have for my daughter. She never did anything to earn my love and nothing she can do will ever make me stop loving her. I love her simply because she is mine. We can never be good enough to earn salvation-it’s a gift, we just have to accept it. We are human and will continue to make mistakes but the God I know is patient and gracious. I am so thankful to finally be a part of a church that gets this. I have learned also that it is not anyone’s place to judge. My job is to love everyone -regardless of their faults, sins, pain, lifestyle, whatever. It’s so sad to hear how much you have been hurt by the church and people that you trusted. Unfortunately a lot of people, especially in our generation have been hurt by this thinking that we must be perfect and judge and shun those who are not. This is not at all what God is about.

  251. i am sorry. so very sorry.

    god is good.

  252. Thank you for writing this post. I am Christian and also struggled with many years of not being sure what to think about the church. Now I am at peace with the fact that God made us human for a reason, and He just wants us to do our best. I believe that is good enough for Him, and should be good enough for anyone else. :)

  253. “take these broken wings, and learn to fly”… what a gift Kelle. You are going to soar, for yourself and your children.

  254. You are not alone in growing up this way although your situation was a little more extreme than mine. I was brought you hearing “God will get you for that” whenever we did something wrong. I grew up “never being good enough” for God or anyone for that matter. God was unloving, uncaring, and unforgiving. He was mean, hateful, and judgmental. It took me years to deprogram myself and a leap of faith. I knew at the age of 7 that the religion we practiced was not right but I had no one to guide me in the right direction. I was lost for years but the shepherd finally found this sheep and guided me to a home where I truly belong and am loved and wanted. A spiritually life is a journey but you must first take that leap of faith. I’ll be praying for you!

  255. That definitely sounds like a rocky place to start a relationship with God. I’m sad that those people ruined something so beautiful for you. I will be praying for them — and for you and your family!

  256. “Telling me to run to Jesus is like telling a beaten dog he should come out and trust people.” That is a pretty powerful statement and a very relateable one. I am just in awe that you are able to have a public blog as a result. It is easy to see how many supporters you have, so I’m guessing they outweigh any hater crap :)

  257. don’t ever feel the need to assure us that “the regular blog” will be back soon. these are your REAL thoughts and feelings. that’s what we come here for, and i, for one, am never disappointed =).

  258. “…being loved simply for existing”
    So powerful. And so worth the fight [through everything else] to cling to. That truth really hit home for me when I realized that before Jesus even started his ministry on earth, his heavenly Father called him his “beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17) That’s my comfort, knowing that I am loved just because I am His.

    Thanks for sharing your heart. I always enjoy reading what you write!

  259. God meets me where I’m at. I bet He meets you, there, too.
    XO
    Caryl

  260. I have very similar “religious” feelings. And while I feel like I don’t have any concrete answers, I do know that God is love. And that I’m supposed to love others. And I’ve decided if THAT is all I know of God so far, well…that’s a pretty good start.

  261. Thank you for sharing this with us! I love your take on where you are. It is inspiring and beautiful. Faith and Religion are so hard and get tangled up by so many.

    Your so right, the best thing is that God loves us simply for existing.

  262. Your blog was inspiring. I grew up similarly, always wondering if the Lord had just come back and I was left behind because I wasn’t good enough. We can rise above as adults, finding grace and knowing it’s the gift we all deserve. Because we’re human.

  263. Thanks for sharing your heart. I too grew up with a fear of sinning and going to hell because of it. The older I get the more I realize how none of us are perfect and can never be in this life. Although I strive to Honor Him, I fail often. Ever since the fall of man, God has required a sacrifice for sins. Yes He is Loving, but He is also Holy and Just and none of us are holy enough on our own to enter into His presence. That’s were Jesus comes in. He IS the ultimate sacrifice. No longer are animal sacrifices needed. He paid the price once and for all, and because of that shed blood my sins are covered when I trust in Him. Just as in the Old Testament, the blood on the door post saved the children of Israel from the death angel, so the blood of Jesus on my heart saves me. That right there gives me peace…

  264. Love your honesty! I too have struggled with this. I watch people go to church brag about being a Christian, listen to the sermon and then talk about everyone while at lunch. I struggle with people who don’t practice what they preach!
    Thank you for sharing!

  265. I also wanted to share this with fellow Florida moms. Especially moms of children with special needs. My son loves Disney. We bought passes and are able to enjoy a few hours here and there on occasional weekends without major incident, largely because of their Guest Assistance Pass. Now due to people who chose to abuse the system they are giving a knee jerk reaction and are taking away the current program without much notice and replacing it with a system so different and not user friendly ( from what I have read) I am in shock. It was the one place we could go where my son truly was the happiest. The accommodations allowed for us to meet his needs and allowed him an enjoyable visit that he could process. Please copy the link below and sign the petition to the Disney executives. They need to gain input from families that have appropriately utilize the program. The link takes you to change.org. I am so disappointed… I thought Disney understood.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-changes-to-disney-world-and-disneyland-s-guest-assistance-card-program

  266. Hi Kelle:

    I don’t think I have ever commented here but I read regularly.

    You were describing the exact same kind of churches that my husband and I left three years ago. Being pushed into that “box” of churchism was very difficult. We accepted gays, and others who lived the “sinful” lifestyles. We were outcasted because of that and had to repent constantly for it.

    I am glad you wrote this. It makes me feel not so alone.

    Have a happy day!

    Shari

  267. Kelle, I love your honesty! I totally agree that the God you were introduced to early in life is not a God anyone would want to come to. It’s sad when anyone takes part of the Bible and distorts it without looking at the whole picture.
    Your ending picture of putting the pieces of broken glass together is lovely.
    Thanks and keep seeking,
    Jean

  268. It was so lovely to read this here today. I have a brother (who is in all likelihood mentally ill, and that in and of itself is so hard for me to cope with) who spends a fair share of his life telling me and my family that we are going to hell. (Not that this matters or makes us worthy or even good people in general, but we actually are in church every Sunday. I sing in the choir.) I spend a lot of my energy being anxious that he is right and that we will go to hell and that we are bad people even though it goes against everything thing I fundamentally believe from the teachings of my religion, my core values, and just the way I view the world in general. Reading this made me realize I am not alone in this anxious feeling and that maybe someday, I’ll just be able to shut him the hell up. (Without actually going to “the hell” of which I speak.) thank you :)

  269. Wow…I needed to read this. I was brought up the same way as you. Now I’m the black sheep of the family and not spoken to or visited because I broke free from that line of thinking…, which, by the way, I don’t think God approves of at all. I haven’t seen my parents in 6 years…they haven’t seen my 4 sons…nothing.

    You’d love this song, if you haven’t heard it already. The words are so poignant. It spells out what many Christians have become…and I’m quite sure God never intended it to be that way. We sang it in church Sunday. :)

    http://youtu.be/sOiD0cREjjU

    Thanks for your blog, Kelle. I do enjoy it SO much. xo

  270. I am so happy to see this post. I hope that you will continue to truly search for Jesus and find that peace and comfort that only He can offer.

  271. So many people misinterpret God and His message.

    Did you watch “The West Wing”? You tube the Bible episode.

    truly amazing chapter and verse response to the bibles condemnation of gays.

    “Im interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned by Exodus 21.7. Shes a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? My Chief of Staff Leo McGary insists on working on the sabbath. Exodus 35.2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it ok to call the police?”

    it goes on and its awesome.

    So there’s the old testament and then there’s Jesus. And Jesus hung out with prostitutes. He didnt judge. He loved. period.

    And I guarantee you that he knows your sorrow but I encourage you to tell him all about it. i can also tell you he is holding a place for you, right next to him.

  272. “So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.10 Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving.” Jeffery R Holland

    Reading this post reminded me of this quote by a leader of my Church. Not sure if it fits your situation because I don’t know if your leadership was volunteer or not, but it helps me to remember when I am frustrated with people in my church. It sounds like your experiences have been the perfect refiners fire for the strong Woman that you have become.

  273. Check out Klove radio!!! You can Google it :)

  274. I’m where you’re at. Or maybe a step or two behind but so close to be there. I read your post 3 times just because it made peace in my heart that I wasn’t alone. I’ve never been able to see someone else who has felt that terrifying, gut wrenching fear that if no one answers when you go into your house that it’s because of the rapture. I used to get nervous if I didn’t see the usual amount of cars on the road at a certain time for fear of rapture. Thank you for touching my heart and allowing peace.

  275. you have such a well respected and famous blog and to write stuff like this has to take so much courage and it was just so well said. possibly the best stated thing i’ve ever read on the internet. kudos. keep on treading your own path and we’ll keep on following you :)

  276. I’m so sorry you had that experience growing up. So many church’s have done that (focusing on building themselves up and pushing others out who don’t see eye to eye.) It’s truly not what Christianity is about at all. Many people give up on their faith because they realize they will never be good enough to get into heaven. They don’t realize that we all have GRACE. And grace is given to everyone who asks. There is a book called Ragamuffin Gospel which is amazing. I also go to a church called Northpoint which is a completely different kind of church and they say “Everyone is Invited”. If you have 30 minutes (yea right, who has that?) I’d encourage you to watch the intro to this series… it changed me. http://northpoint.org/messages/big-church/day-one/
    Best of luck to you on this journey…

  277. First, I hope that my thoughts might touch you and you inspire you as they have inspired and changed my life for the good. I just wanted you to know that our Heavenly Father is a perfect being who only creates good and perfect things. Meaning that we were created in His image, perfectly. Yes, we have imperfections and yes, life doesn’t always go the way that we plan for it or intend it to go. But I know that Heavenly Father creates us each perfectly to have those imperfections and to have those trials so that we can learn and grow and become those people that he has sent us here to become. He doesn’t demand perfection of us because we are human, we have the “natural man” inside of us. (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/natural-man) That is why He provided a Savior for us. It is through Christ that we are able to return to our Heavenly Father again. It is through the Atonement that we are able to repent and become better. (see http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1983/10/jesus-christ-our-savior-and-redeemer?lang=eng&query=Jesus+Christ) Heavenly Father doesn’t care where we have been, He cares who we are now and who we are becoming. I know that our Heavenly Father loves you, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, loves you and that they know the feelings and desires of your heart. Not only did Christ Atone for our sins but he also took upon our afflictions and our sufferings so that he might know how succor us.

    11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

    12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

    13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. (Alma 7:11-13)

    I know that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Heavenly Father’s church upon the earth, where you can find the answer to all the questions you are seeking. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I hope that something I said helped in some way.

  278. I have a lot of trouble seperating the horribly judgmental and clique-ish aspects of organized religion from spiritual and community (which is what I feel that church is about anyway)…I struggle just as you do. I appreciate your writing and especially when you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable about your struggles. I was watching a movie the other day and a conversation in it suggested that God is really about connection and when two people are sharing with each other, God can be found in that space in between them…where they are connecting. I liked that idea. Good luck on your journey…and thank you for sharing it with us!

  279. Kelle-
    Just wanting to say thanks for your courage and for being so vulnerable. Religion conversation of any kind can be a scary arena to step into. I also wanted to say…I think you’re building a beautiful chapel and in just the right way. Humans have been misunderstanding and misinterpreting God’s word for centuries and to stop, seek and question His meaning is exactly the kind of thing we should all do.

    Wanted to mention two key things. Jesus told his followers, people would know they were His disciples by the way they loved one another. LOVED one another. Loving each other is how we represent Jesus. He also said that all of Gods commandments were summarized into two.
    1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.
    2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

    I think people often forget that these two commandments actually have 3 key things in them. Love God, Love your neighbor, Love yourself. If all of God’s commandments can be summarized into the above, ( according to Jesus Himself) then I think you are doing pretty good so far!

    Way to jump in the arena and be vulnerable and I hope you continue to discover God’s love and blessings in all aspects of your beautiful, messy, human life. Love is messy and life can be but they are still very beautiful.

    P.S. When I am struggling with the idea of perfection I stop and remember that God created the entire universe, world and all that is in it in 6 days. Then he sat back and called it Good. Good. That’s it. He never called it perfect. He simply called it Good. So…I aim for good on most days, because if good is good enough for God, it’s good enough for me!

  280. So many comments already, but I still wanted to give my perspective.

    I can’t imagine the fear you must have felt growing up with those teachings. It would cause anyone to question their faith.

    It sounds like there was one word that was tragically missing from your religious upbringing — Grace. Through Jesus, we are given God’s grace because we aren’t perfect and never will be. And he knows that. I’m so thankful he allows us to recognize that and just give that quest for perfection over to him. Being a Christian is about freedom, not captivity.

  281. Just read your post so I’m a little late on the comment, but I just read something that Andy Stanley posted on fb…..seemed appropriate: “Jesus taught and pointed toward the ideal, yet refused to condemn those who fell short.”
    I do believe in hell and I do believe that people will go there, but I also know that because of Jesus and our faith in him, we don’t have to spend our lives worried and stressed about sinning. If we have trusted in HIM, he has taken care of our sins. I’m praying for you because you really seem to be searching. That’s not always a bad place to be.

  282. I am so sad to hear your story. All the pain and hurt at the hand of the “church” should be called something else…but don’t call it church.

    Church is a place where love is celebrated and service is key to sharing Gods love to others…not a place of condemnation.

    The God of the universe loves you Kelli. More than anything. In fact, He is pursuing your heart day after day. He has a never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love for you.

    Never, ever forget it.

    So much love to you.

  283. Thank you for writing this and being so open. I think many more of us than are even willing to admit have had similar experiences, and it’s refreshing to read another humans experience of religion. I’m pretty much right where you are sister – raised in a church, learned to be afraid of God, and as a teenager and most recently in my 20’s have shifted my views on God and religion. For once it’s a comfort to be, and yes I still have tons of questions – but if God created me, than why shouldn’t He be able to handle my questions? In fact, I think at times that if we DON’T have doubt and questions we are somehow putting God in a box – and the fact is, God is HUGE and we simply CANNOT understand completely, as we are in fact, humans. Bad things happen in this world and we question – it’s simply part of the creation we are. For once in my life I found a church that “preaches” this – if you ever have the chance, check them out online – all the messages are archived. It’s http://www.crossroads.net – and it’s pretty amazing. Not without it’s faults of course, but it’s basically a church for people with “church” problems 😉

    Anyway. Loved this post. Thanks again. If only we could all be so honest with ourselves and our “faith”.

  284. You know, a lot of people have been hurt the same way you were. You’re not alone. Growing up in the South, a lot of us have been there. I’ve had my moments of being hurt by a church. And you know what? If you’re not ready yet, you’re not ready. And that’s ok. And I think God thinks that’s ok. God is totally ok with questions. He welcomes them. He’d rather hear those than have people make up their own version of him. God knows we’re human. He made us. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect.
    Also, if you’re ever ready to go back to a church, I recommend the United Church of Christ. They were the ones who allowed me to feel comfortable in church again. They love everybody.

  285. Thank you for your honesty and openness, a huge strength regarding your blog and personal character. My heart aches that you had such negative experiences as a child. It was all so wrong. After reading your book I definitely understood much more of your perspective. I grew up in a very strong church family but my experiences were totally the opposite; God was one of love, forgiveness and mercy. This is the heart of God and why I pray His healing touch on your heart and mind. May you continue to be blessed…

  286. Hate this happened to you. We have a lot of “if you sin you aren’t saved” people in our area. Usually when they have that bumper sticker on their truck, they are speeding.

    I too always thought heaven sounded boring, but then I realized from Revelation 20-21 that New Jerusalem is a CITY, with HOUSES, STREETs, WALLS. People LIVE in a city. They don’t float on clouds. And God created Adam to tend the garden, to work, and called it good. So I can infer that in heaven, there will be work, meaningful work to do, and relationships and homes and all the things that are good about God’s creation. And I think that our struggles here in this life have eternal significance. I think I am being prepared for some important work in my eternal future. I hope and pray that you are too! God bless you and his Holy Spirit speak what He needs you to hear.

  287. Kelle- I love your blog. I used to save it for every day at 4:30 when I had a break at work. It always motivates me, makes me cry, makes me smile, and makes me want to actively create a life of joy and happiness through the simple task of just noticing those small things. Now I’m a momma with two little gals and my computer time is limited- but I still check in on your beautiful and talented writing as frequently as I can. Thank you for being so amazing and honest. You’re REAL. And that’s not always easy to find.

    I’ve read through a few comments and see so many recommendations for different religions- so many people love their denomination the best and want to share their message with you. That’s amazing to me, because despite the horror of what you wrote about (I once sat through a play where the rapture was acted out. Holy holy freaky stuff!!!!) despite that tactic of fear used in the religion that was all you knew, there are so so so very many wonderful organized and non organized religions, views, and perspectives. They all hold truth and truth is happy and good.

    What I can’t get over is your healthy and phenomenal perspective of life and how you want it to be. You’re taking an active role and creating happiness. You love family, service, and love like there’s no tomorrow. So now I’ll share my “best religion in the whole wide world” because I swear you’re living it without even studying it! Check out the LDS conference this weekend on either LDS.org or BYUtv. There are 6 sessions (8am, 12, and 4 pm saturday, then 8 and 12 Sunday. There was one just for women last weekend). Honestly, the speakers are entertaining, funny, loving, amazing, and motivating. It’s a motivating experience no matter your religion- just like reading any book or speaker that holds truth and new ideas to live a happy life.

    Thanks again for sharing- and remember that what you’re doing and choosing and living is RIGHT. Because you’re you and when your heart feels happy, you’re where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing. Thanks for being such an inspiration and breath of fresh air!!!

  288. Thank you for this. There are a whole wide bunch of us going to build our chapels on neighbouring hills. Mine’ll be the the one surrounded by daffodils. <3

  289. Hi Kelle,

    I’m sure you’d remember me…I went to the same church as you, though I am much younger than you.

    Thanks for putting into words what I’ve struggled to explain to my boyfriend and close friends about the way my religious upbringing influenced who I am, and my perspective on faith and God.

    It’s taken a long time for me to figure out who I am outside of the constant self condemnation I felt I should have when I went off to college and decided to see what else there was out there besides constant guilt and fear. It sounds like you and I have reached a similar place of peace, and in my case, a great sense of relief.

    Thanks for this post, Tara

  290. wow, good on you for sharing, very brave. I cringed and felt a bit teary with what you shared. I am fairly new to your blog and wondered about your faith. I know if you are seeking the Lord He will show himself to you. The beauty of the gospel is that we can run into his arms with ALL of our brokenness and sin – seen and unseen and He embraces us and tells us…this is why I came….that you might have life and have it abundantly. Not to be perfect, but to look to the one who is. blessings and love from down under in New Zealand. jennifer

  291. Powerful words…they remind me of my favorite verse. Named my business after it, labeled my babies’ nursery with it, slap it on anything that will stay still, basically. :)

    Zephaniah 3:17

    He will take great delight in you, he will rejoice over you with singing, he will quiet you with his love.

    Because he does all of those. And we don’t have to live in fear and condemnation. We just have to try to live like Jesus. The one who healed and loved and wept and bled and died all for us. The subversive, controversial, truth teller – Jesus. All we need to know is that HE LOVES US and if we get still and listen – He tells us all we need to know.

    You, my dear, hear Him. :)

  292. You might enjpy blogger ThatWife’s story from Mormonism to atheism
    http://thatwifeblog.com/2013/05/06/im-coming-from-where-i-have-been/

    It’s beautiful.

    I commend you for daring to speak in a country where non-belief is so frowned upon.

  293. I swear you just read my mind…I used to do the same thing. Sometimes I still wonder if the Rapture has happened. Mine was also that we were told we had to ask forgiveness for every sin….and if we didn’t ask for forgiveness it just STUCK…and the “wages of sin are death”…so I always felt doomed. I probably stayed out of a lot of trouble because of this way of thinking, but I also had ulcers by the age of 10. My mom raised us Church of Christ…even though she was gay…and so once we found out she was gay (I was in the 4th grade)…I spent the next 10 or so years being 100% sure she was going to burn in hell. Long story…lots of heartache, but I know now that the God I know and love loves my mother just the way she is.

  294. Thank you for this post. So refreshing and grateful to know I’m not alone on the journey of rediscovering my faith. I recently came across a book this author and blog. Thought you might relate. http://addiezierman.com
    Thanks again, love your blog! :)

  295. Sandra oater camp says:

    Shut out all the voices, take your Bible to a quiet place, read John’s gospel and discover who God really is. I am sorry for all the hurt the church has caused you.

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