At church on Sunday, the sermon was about fear. The Pastor was talking about how people with different fears don't have to live that way; that they are only in that situation (one of fear) because they have lost God's way.
I started shaking my head.
Later on, I explained that I was shaking my head at the examples. One in particular - a single woman who becomes pregnant unexpectedly - really got to me. "It sounds judgmental," I said. To me, that sounds like the Pastor is saying - see, you lost the way. You didn't do things the right way, and now you're in trouble.
Like it's a punishment or something, and only happens to bad people.
That is something that has always annoyed me about religion - some more than others. The idea that there are certain rules, and if you don't live by them, you're nothing but trouble.
But maybe - just maybe - that's not the message.
It was suggested to me that the message is one of faith and hope. That if you're in a situation and feeling fear, you're only feeling that way because you're not turning to God - you've lost his way. If you find him, and accept his grace rather than fearing him, he will take those fears for you - and you won't have to be afraid anymore.
If that's true, then I stand corrected. The message wasn't harsh or judgmental, but rather helpful and full of peace. Give your fears over to God; let him help you through the difficult times. You don't have to feel fear, and you won't, if you remember you can turn to Him.
That's actually a nice message. It's one I could get behind.
It was suggested that I might have a "chip on my shoulder" from my experience with the Catholic Church. That maybe I'm so jaded by the feeling of judgment and guilt that the Church supports, that I'm cynical whenever I hear a message from a Christian.
OK - that might be true. I'm willing to admit that I might have a skewed perception of religion - any religion - and that any messages I hear are clouded. I still think one has to be careful, and question what's presented. That we should discuss and dissect, and try to understand messages thoroughly, rather than just taking them at face value.
I guess maybe that's what is meant by the term Recovering Catholic. Just a person trying to get past the jaded view of someone who was taught she was all kinds of wrong, and find the message of peace and hope and love that we all want so badly in our lives.