Keeping faith during times of trial

I haven't written anything for my Becoming Episcopalian subcategory on this blog in a while, so I feel a bit guilty for that. Is that the stereotypical Catholic guilt, or is that just me?

I just didn't think I was "good enough" to write anything lately. If you've happened to read some of my other posts, I've been kind of having difficulty lately with memories resurfacing, some nervousness or anxiety or whatever the heck it is, triggers...things like that. Whenever I feel like crap, my faith feels like crap, too.

It could very easily be an issue of association.

I cannot for the life of me remember who said this (Google isn't being helpful, either), but someone once said that "every Sunday is a little Easter." The house was always very strained, walking on eggshells, every holiday. dad often tried to put on a good face, he was overly and a fake cheerful, every holiday. And every time he was like that, it never fails, he eventually snaps and rages at someone. It's why I had difficulty enjoying Easter this year and every year.

Every Sunday was a little Easter. He complained before church. At church he's a fake cheerful. After church, he let loose all his anger and frustration on the family. Or else he'd keep us hopping with tasks which we were afraid would give him cause to punish us, if we messed up. Either way, it was rather tense at home.

Growing up, I alternated between being really religious and not-giving-a-shit. Sometimes faith seemed like a good way to escape from reality. I would imagine Jesus coming to sit at the foot of my bed to console me with His presence. I thought about becoming a nun so I could go far away from home.  Sometimes I loathed faith because every time we went to church, it was always a big problem with dad. No church, no reason for stress. I tried to get out of going to church whenever I felt sick.

Yet, after I began going to a different parish (I couldn't stand the new priest's constant weekly guilt-trip about giving money to the church. Sorry dude, I was poor) I found comfort in the steady routine and in the music. Sit, stand, kneel. The Psalms. Good hymns, both old and the good kind of contemporary by Dan Schutte, Marty Haugen, Michael Joncas. Incense when we had it. Even when I still swung between being faith-full and being faith-less, I kept going weekly. The routine was calming.

Even now, as an Episcopalian, I still go to church every single week. The same sort of routine. Incense. Songs. AKA, smells and bells.

This past Sunday, I was feeling really out of sorts after counseling. It had stirred up old emotions and I couldn't put them away. I didn't want to go to church, but I went anyway. The anxiousness slowly went away once the organ started.  The effect was temporary, but it was a nice respite from the worries of the world.

But the matter still remains of faith. The routine itself was nice, but I felt like a robot. No emotion.

I have a hard time feeling connected with God whenever I feel like crap, when I'm trying to suppress my thoughts and emotions in order to function at work and at school. Sometimes I want to say, "To hell with this" and just quit religion altogether. I'd be an okay agnostic.

But something keeps me from doing that. Even at my worst, I still have this kernel of faith. A mustard seed, if you will. I still believe, underneath all the pain and turmoil. I still feel the power of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood.

So I keep going. I keep trying. I keep practicing.

Just as my soul and mind needs to heal, my faith also needs to heal from the damage.

This is why I feel so unqualified to write about faith and why I haven't written about it in a while--how can I, when I struggle to hang on?

Leave a comment