Outside the Boat

17 11 2006

I was rasied Christian and, for me, it was rather like growing up on a houseboat in the middle of the ocean. I was warned not to leave the boat or I’d sink. I was warned not to go to close to the edge, lest the sharks lure me into the ocean where I’d drown.

So what happens when you no longer believe that the houseboat is the right place for you? When you realize that there is no ocean outside and you actually can just get out and walk away? You believe in your heart that everything you’ve ever been taught about the dangers of leaving the housboat was wrong, but you can’t seem to get the courage to take that step because ALL YOUR LIFE you’ve been told it’s ocean and you believed in the ocean so deeply for so long that you simply cannot wrap your brain around any other concept?

I feel in limbo, neither Christian, yet afraid to become non-Christian.

Even as a very small child, I had a more cosmic view of God than (what I assume is) usual. I believed and trusted in the ultimate goodness of God, and I had faith some adults struggle with. None of that has changed. I still believe in a supreme being of some sort and as I grew to know him within Christianity I feel most comfortable with that view. However, I fully believe each person knows this ultimate being in their own way and that “God” has many faces so that many different kinds of people may know him.

Spiritually, I crave some sort of known path. Symbols and rites call to me, but I am afraid to answer, lest the answer turn out to be from the Devil, after all.

Right now I think I am hanging outside my houseboat holding on with my hands, every so often letting my feet touch the ground every so often. I am getting tired of hanging on,but not yet clear on which foot to put down first. And once I am down and fully outside, which direction do I head? How do I know? Judaism appeals to me and always has, but perhaps because I consider it “safe”? Pagan paths interest me and I think I would like to get to know the Goddess (or the feminine side of God, IMHO) a little better. I still find deep beauty in Catholic art or the Episcopalian services, but the last time I went, I felt like a liar since I cannot believe in the story of the Christ anymore.

For those of you who have left your own houseboat and gone outside, can you share you story? Either in your own blog or in the comments here? How did you find the courage, or was it not scary for you? If you’ve never left your childhood religion, how did you know it was right for you? If you found a religion after not having been brought up one way other another, how did you discover that path?

For more takes on the “outside” theme, visit Mama Says Om. (In all honesty, I’d had another idea prepared, but this one seems to be the one that found it’s way out of my head.)

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5 responses

17 11 2006
Elaine

Such a great, thought provoking post. I do intend to answer you, but I need some time to process first. Likely, I’ll write my own on Wannabe Hippie.

But I can tell you that life off the boat is fine. Not as scary as you might think!

17 11 2006
Mandy

I looked for a long time and could not find what others had (or say they had). Finally, had to have my own spiritual awakening and created/trusted in my own higher power. I still toy with wanting to be part of a a spiritual group or community. Unitarian Universalist is very appealing to me. May check it out someday. Liked your take on “outside”.

17 11 2006
Nicole

Wow. Didn’t expect this on ‘outside’, but it was a nice surprise!

I’m in the category of “not raised in a religion but found my way to Christianity.” Our family never attended church. In some ways, I wish we had, but in other ways I am thankful that I was able to form an image of God via my own path, as an adult.

As I’ve journeyed toward and within Christianity, I’ve tended to consider the theology very intellectually while embracing the ceremony fully. I think there is a lot of room in Christianity for doubting doctrine while embracing the core message: you are loved, and love one another. I like the idea of Jesus as a radical preaching acceptance and social justice. That’s my kind of guy.

I respect all paths to God (who I also consider a masculine and feminine source) and can fully support letting go of the boat. But part of me wonders if you might just need to improve the one you’re one – perhaps some funky curtains and paint and an exploration of progressive thinking in Christianity.

BTW: I’d recommend Sue Monk Kidd’s book “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” as a memoir study of her path from VERY traditional Christianity to the divine feminine.

18 11 2006
Anonymous

I think your analogy of the houseboat is spot on. I just posted my own story on my blog. πŸ™‚ http://patchworkprincess.blogspot.com/2006/11/jumping-ship.html

As for the community ritual aspect, I get that from my UU society while still having the freedom to believe what I want and express those beliefs freely.

18 11 2006
Anonymous

Oh and Elaine’s right… life off the boat is fine. πŸ™‚ I believe your creator gave you the good sense to know how to swim. πŸ™‚

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