The deal with church was that my mom went, and my dad did not. Mom was "saved". My dad maintained that he was Catholic, but he never stepped foot in a church for most of my life. From age five, I was taken to the churches my mom picked, and I was taught that my dad, who wasn't "saved", as well as all of my extended family members who were Catholic, were going to burn in hell for all of eternity.
That's a heavy load to put on a five-year-old. And so began my indoctrination. So began my guilt. I was a sinner, and was reminded of this all the time in the church and school. So I begged God for forgiveness every night for my sins. I begged God to stop some volatile things occurring in my home too. And, most importantly, I begged God to make my father get saved (and all my extended family too).
God never pulled this off for me. So I got a little resentful. I got a little sick and tired of the huge guilt trips this religion put on me as well. I got a little ticked off when terrible things happened in my life, and God, who I spoke to all the time, never did a thing to help. I stopped believing in God.
Today, I can say that there is something I like (and have liked for twenty years since my first exposure to it) about twelve step groups, and that is the concept that one can have a higher power of her choosing. The higher power does not have to be called God. The higher power can be a tree, humanity, a flower, the universe, an internal presence. On the rare occasions when I talk of having a higher power at all, I generally call it the universe. I don't ask the universe for a lot of things, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I say a quiet prayer to whatever is out there, whatever life might hear me, and ask for some peace, some solace, even something like healing. Sometimes, I am a tad bit spiritual and not terrified of that entire concept as I usually am
The youth pastor of the church I grew up in was sent to prison for molesting kids at the church. I was not molested, but I knew people who were. And today, I have no respect for hypocrites. Most of the deeply religious people I've come across seem to be hypocrites. I have no desire to ever be involved with any religion, though I have gone to services at the Unitarian Universalist church a few times over the past few years. Religion is just not for me. God is not for me. The universe, and faith in it, and hope for progress, those are for me.
Universe, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.