Bottom line up front, my path has not been straight, nor narrow, but it is still mine. The memories I have of going to church and religion growing up primarily are not pleasant. My parents divorced when I was young, and my mom dutifully delivered me to Wednesday night religion classes, but we did not really go to church. as a family. I would go with my grandparents, but I really do not remember going with my parents. Truth be told, it is not her fault. She was not really welcome, from my understanding, in the Catholic Church post-divorce, and also unfortunate is the way people treated me because of it. None the less, I made an effort for a while. Once old enough, I would walk the mile or two it was to church, sometimes through the snow, cold and who knows what else.
As I grew older, the situation did not really improve, and I was rather difficult to deal with in religion classes. I had a lot of questions, and no one wanted to give the answers. I did not fit in the box. I did not want to sit and memorize the beliefs of the Catholic Church without explaination to their Biblical explanation. On top of that, a lot of the Catholic Church is based on traditions as much as Biblical teachings, which I struggled to wrap my head around. I wanted to know the Biblical basis as to why we needed to see the priest for confession instead of praying to God.
In some ways I was very angry with God and not mature enough to deal with that anger. I did not understand a lot of what was going on, and like many teenagers, I was a little self-absorbed. In the end, I believe I went to Confirmation, because it was pleasing to my family and I could stop going to Wednesday night religion classes. I was torn, but didn't want to upset my family.
I bounced to a few different churches during my high school days, visiting and trying to find where I thought I was supposed to be and to get answers to some of my questions, but I was embarrassed by my lack of Biblical understanding. I always felt behind and afraid to ask the questions I needed answers to, so I went back to the "comfort zone" (the Catholic Church). While I was comfortable, it didn't seem quite right. I went through some extreme highs and lows as far as religion was concerned. I believed strongly in God, but I was struggling to find my path with Him. I wanted the knowledge, but I didn't know how to find it.
In college, I did the same... stuck with the Catholic Church, but I was finding the answers on my own. Away from home, I felt more freedom to question and find the answers. I was not confined by the real or perceived expectations of others. I became less concerned with what others thought, but I was still afraid to break away from those expectations completely.
Some find comfort in the traditions of the Catholic church, and that is great. There are parts of the tradition that do bring comfort to me too, but there are other parts that I am not comfortable with in the interpretation of scripture, use of apocrypha, the role of the Sacraments in salvation...The more I dug deeper, the more I found huge gaps.
These days, I march to the beat of a different drummer in so many ways. I study the Bible, the history, the stories behind the stories. I feel more confident in doing what is right for me and my family, and in doing so am more comfortable exploring and searching. I have a thirst, and I have finally figured out how to quench it. Fortunately, I have a very knowledgeable husband I can ask questions of without worry of sounding stupid and a supportive church community in the Disciples that allows the exploration without judgment.
To answer my own question, we are all right so long as we study the Bible, pray, and discern God's purpose for our lives. We seek to follow Jesus' teachings-- the commands to love God and one another-- and while denominations and journeys might divide us, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and we all are right in our own ways. I am no longer wondering who is right, but am I doing "it" right by the standards God and I have set in my life.
Am I studying and praying faithfully? Am I approaching the word with an open mind and heart? Am I reading Jesus' words and praying to discern their purpose and application in God's vision in my life? Am I faithfully searching and executing that purpose for my life?
Those are the questions I am going to be asking myself in this journey.
Do you have questions or statements that guide your study and journey?