I don’t normally remember what I did in high school, but today I did. I guess I remembered it because I was doing what I used to do: Sundays were the days I spent to myself listening to music. I’d listen to music in my library and just be quiet and listen to it, skipping songs I couldn’t care less about at the time.

And I don’t really remember much else, at least not like others my age do. I don’t mind, though.

On the farm, I’d watch TV shows and listen to music and take walks down the driveway and snap pictures and drive the Gator around in the pasture and on the street when I could, and I just enjoyed it.

I’d also go to church. And I felt like I had to go, so not going made me feel guilty.

But I don’t really go anymore. And I don’t really feel guilty.

I feel more free when I don’t go — free to think, free to believe what I choose to believe about my religion and religion in general, free to make my own assumptions regarding what is the “right” way, etc. I don’t feel like not going to church is something horrid that should be fixed. I feel better when I don’t go. I don’t really even enjoy going very much, either. Oddly, G’mama seems somewhat okay with that. Earlier this year, she told me, “You have the ability to choose to believe in what you want to believe in. No one can make you believe in something you don’t believe in, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to do something you don’t want to do. You’re free to believe in what you want.”

My best friend from high school, Alice1, and I were at church one Wednesday night for The Mix, the thing they called the young adults’2 Wednesday night service. The youth pastor was talking about how same-sex relationships were a disgrace to society and all these other cruel things. Before he started talking, he said, “If you dislike what I’m about to say, just get up and walk out.” Alice ended up walking out about ten minutes in. That night, I text messaged her something along the lines of, “I hate it, too, but you just have to be quiet and listen sometimes.”

Basically, I used to be this huge religious brat. Now, I like to think that I’m not. I grew up. I realized that sometimes religion takes over those who are religious and creates these horribly ridiculous and hateful, judgmental people out of them. I realized that I don’t have to be like that, and I realized that life is much easier if I’m not.

I’m not really interested in finding another church that I like. The fact that I can’t drive doesn’t really have anything to do with that. I just hate being told what I should believe, and I hate being preached to. Sometimes I wonder if I don’t even want to be religious at all, but then I realize that I just don’t want to go to church. I realized that I just don’t want to go when I had the epiphany that I went to church not for me, but to please other people.

  1. of course, people grow apart after high school no matter what they promised. 🙁
  2. 10th grade to college kids.

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Comments on this post

Alice’s gravatar

Your Sundays now sound so fun! I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself 🙂

I also think it’s a good thing that you would rather choose what to believe than to do and believe something just because other people tell you you should, or it’s what other people are doing. Personally I go to church and hear the same things about same-sex marriage, but even though I hate it I’ve grown used to it. My reasons for going to church are sincere but I just disagree with some of the things my church preaches, which I’m okay with.

But if it’s not for something you believe in and don’t like, then of course not going is better 🙂 Sincerity is important to God (hypothetical or actual, depending on your beliefs!), I think.

Christine’s gravatar

I think that these types of epiphanies are refreshing because by having them you are celebrating your own self-advocacy and following the path you are choosing to follow which can SOMETIMES be a challenge! Kudos to you! And Kudos to Alice, too, for being so young and knowing how and what she wanted to listen to.

Tran’s gravatar

Goodness, I can’t remember the last time I went to church. I went to Catholic schools growing up but thankfully the schools I attended were rather opened minded. Religion wasn’t shoved down our throats, we had a choice, which was nice.

I find church a bit pointless. I feel religion should be something personal – between you and your chosen God, if any.

But whatever floats people’s boat, I guess! 🙂

Robin’s gravatar

I dislike going to church as well, and my husband and I haven’t really bothered looking for one. My main issue is that when you listen to a pastor, you are really listening to their *personal* interpretation/opinion of what the Bible says. Many church-goers automatically accept the pastor’s words as the words of God. They will do something or think a certain way because the pastor said so.

And, of course, the “Sunday suit” people (Those who display a certain personality at church and are completely different people during the rest of the week. Some of the meanest people I’ve dealt with are the ones who strictly go to church every Sunday.)

Amy’s gravatar

I’ve only ever been to church once, and that was for a youth project I was involved in. My parents aren’t really religious, so it’s never been a part of my life.

I wouldn’t have had the courage to walk out in that situation. I’d probably just have sat there getting angry at what people were saying. But sometimes it’s refreshing to hear other people’s very different views in a way. Even if you don’t agree with them at all.

It’s nice that you’re in a place where you can feel like you can do what you want – nobody should be forced into doing something because they feel guilty.

Natalie DeYoung’s gravatar

Me too. Free to believe what I believe was a huge breakthrough for me. Glad you find yourself there, too. 🙂

Joy’s gravatar

I’m not going to tell you to get up and go find yourself a new church but maybe you just didn’t go to the right one for you.

I never feel as if I’m being preached at or being told what to do and I think it’s because I went somewhere that kind of, in a way, makes sure that you believe the same things they do so that there is no offense. Even if you differ on some of those things (which I do) it’s ok to voice your opinion on them and back them up with scripture. Eh, but that’s just me.

Really, to each his own and if not going to church makes you feel less like your spirituality is on puppet strings than that’s great and refreshing. I understand that what works for me, doesn’t apply to everyone.

Also, thank you so much for the congratulations on my wedding! It is much appreciated.

Sara’s gravatar


I think it’s important to find out what YOU believe in and not what someone says you should. It sounds like you’re taking steps in that direction.

I agree with Tran — religion is very personal. You have to find what feels right for you.

Hope the summer is going well and be good to yourself, okay?

Stephanie’s gravatar

It’s great that your Grandma seems to agree with you! That must make your life easier. And, she’s completely right.

As a Buddhist, I cannot understand how people will put their full moral trust in a preacher who may not be qualified to speak, though I’ll admit that I’ve met some awesome ministers before. It makes Christians come off like sheep who don’t think for themselves, which don’t disapprove of. But I’m also convinced that you could be any not whacky religion (really, anything not like Scientology) or not have a religion and be a perfectly fine person.