I didn’t think I’d be writing at all while taking this blog sabbatical. I was looking forward to just getting the new branding done and enjoying some months of writing arrest. But, in the times I find myself needing to get my thoughts out there, this space still is the perfect place for it! And this is one of those times.
People have asked from time to time, “Why don’t you write more about your faith on your blog?”
I always reply to them with the same answer:
“Because my faith is personal to me. And I don’t want to get that personal on my blog. It’s my blog, after all.”
I want to talk about this whole faith-sharing issue on this post once and for all so that it’s out there. Not so that people should stop asking me about it, but so that there will be a clear understanding of why I keep things like faith and religion private.
1. I do have a faith walk.
I was brought up a born-again Catholic. All that means is that I stayed a Roman Catholic and then lived a born-again life within the Catholic religion. I went to prayer meetings, Bible studies, youth ministry, homeschooling, and everything that went with a normal church upbringing. I believe in God, Jesus, the universal church, heaven.
But I don’t openly talk about it.
2. My religion is very personal to me.
I’ve never written about it, but in my final years in the born-again movement, I experienced several forms of verbal and emotional abuse from people in that world. Within the church world, we call it spiritual abuse. In a nutshell, everything I knew and believed to be true about being a Christian would be one-by-one negated and refuted by the actions of certain people whom I cared about (not family, to be clear). I experienced personal attacks on my beliefs, my life choices, and in several instances believed the I would never amount to anything in this world. I dealt with nightmares that my dreams would never come true, that my abilities to find work would be limited to ministry work within the church community center and its subsidiaries. And the worst was I even thought God would not “bless” me anymore, if I stepped out of living a life in ministry. It was that deep.
One statement that haunted me for years was that “God will only give you your dreams if you remain here,” ‘here’ being that community and place of worship. It was a statement that rattled my world and belief in God. They were also the words that drove me out of the 20-plus years I had spent in that place. In 2010, I stepped out of the world I had grown up in — the born-again church community world– and I stepped into (what they would call) “the worldly world.” A world I virtually knew nothing about, only that I was among the “unsaved” (as they would call it).
I repeat myself: Religion was and is very personal to me. It has been my foundation ever since I was nine years old.
3. My beliefs are more than just my religion.
If you want to ask my anything more about how I grew up in the church life and how I grew out of it and made an exit, then that’s the stuff for coffee dates. Contact me, let’s be friends, haha! I think more need to hear that story, but not here on my blog. I will not mention names or institutions, and I also don’t want to mention anything more than what I have shared above, because the past is the past. No need to relive it either in conversations or in posterity on the blog. It was my personal experience, unique to me.
Why not share it here, you might also be asking? “It’s your blog, Martine,” some people say. “You should tell your story.” See that’s the thing: This is my blog. Aside from this space being beholden to what I think it should make available for you to read, my religion is a private matter. So are people in my past. I don’t think I am being less of myself or less honest for not publicly talking about it. I lived it for 20+ years. I know my experience, and it’s a part of my life journey that I am not going to change because it’s made me into who I am now. I’d rather keep specifics between my closest friends and family, and instead just talk about my beliefs, which encompass so much more than the God I believe in.
4. Separating religion from beliefs here on the blog, helps me to reach people who don’t feel comfortable about religion.
In 2010, I went back to my Catholic roots, and stopped the usual practices of a born-again believer. I started going back to the Sunday Masses and viewed the devotion in a much different light, with more heart and understanding. I honestly struggled internally at first with my self-concept and concept of God, because of the abuses I experienced in the “care” of church people. It took some years before I recovered,and while I didn’t explore other religions, my belief in God had been damaged by the born-again experience. (Caveat: I love the born-again movement and I have lots of born-again friends. Because I know what “talk” can do though, I prefer not to talk to them about what happened to me because everyone’s experience is unique, not always ‘bad’ or perceived as unfortunate, which is how I viewed my personal experience. It’s my policy to “not talk, unless asked” by people in that lifestyle.)
I don’t talk about my religion here on the blog because, well, I am still dealing with aspects of being a Christian/Catholic/believer in Christ in my own way. I have embraced Catholicism fully though, that you should know, and have a newfound passion for its universality. It still is imperfect, but then again no religion is. But just because I am the editor of a Catholic teens publication doesn’t mean I speak the Bible or the catechism in every breath. God knows I strive everyday to “live” those. And that’s that.
I’d rather talk about my beliefs and values because they are universal. What are those? They are things like making things blissful. What does that mean for me as a belief?
It means seeing the possibilities in people. Hoping for the best and working hard for it. Believing in the power of positivity. Believing in the courage that is inside everyone, to make something better of themselves, to not settle for “just-so”, to have dreams and do the work to achieve them. This for me is “making things blissful.”
5. I have faith in people, in dreams, in possibilities.
You can have faith in all these things and more, without religion or church as their umbrella category. People are not “less blessed” if they don’t have church or religion. In fact, I’ve met some very wonderful atheists in my time, all salt of the earth, and I couldn’t care less about converting them because they are awesome, haha! It’s also not my duty or business to change people’s beliefs or tweak their faith.
As for me? If people want to know more about my religion, then I repeat again: Let’s have coffee. Really! Let’s talk about it away from the blog, which I have stressed is no longer a personal blog about this female anymore. On the blog, I’ll talk about mindsets, about journeys, and soon even about money and more. These are things I can’t box into one religious belief system, even if my personal belief system is that of the Catholic faith.
And so, there. I hope it’s sufficient for those who have asked or wondered.
How about you? Is it an issue for you to keep faith and blogging separate or united? I’d love to know, we can chat in the comments below.