There was a time when I felt so rooted in my faith. I attended services every Sunday, prayed daily and read my bible every night. I grew up in church, the daughter of two faith-filled, born-again parents. As I grew older, I became disillusioned and disappointed with the “business” of church. I was still a believer in God, I just no longer believed in church. I was tired of attending services and leaving feeling worse instead of more hopeful, inspired, or stronger. I’ve never doubted whether or not God exists but I have struggled with the importance of expressing my faith in an organized “space” with others. Could I be a believer without attending service? I’ve never fit in at church. I’ve always been known as “so N so’s Wife, or daughter or sibling. I’ve always felt different. I had different interests, ideals and approaches to my faith.
I’m not a jump up and down, shouting, speaking in tongues, catching the spirit Christian. I’m quiet and more private in my worship. I don’t knock those who are but I’ve always felt judged by them because I don’t worship like they do. The loudest shout doesn’t make you a super Christian but yet sometimes it feels that way. I always felt “less Christian’ because I didn’t worship like everyone else. My lifestyle was different too; I wrote poetry (some erotic), I was very comfortable in my femininity and sexuality, and I drank, danced and partied on the weekends. I wasn’t big on trying to convert people either. To me, faith was a personal choice and I was open to other’s choice in religions and never felt one was better than the other. I’ve studied various religions and have found value in them all. I don’t have this “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to faith.
I’m also a black feminist (womanist) who believes in equality for all. I loathe homophobia, patriarchy, sexism and racism with a passion. I hate abuse and violence towards women and children and I’m a firm believer in social justice issues. I don’t believe being gay is a sin and abortion isn’t murder in my opinion. I don’t believe my entire existence on this earth is to be fruitful and multiply and be a man’s “helpmate”. I’m built and destined for so much more. I believe in science and medicine and I know mental illness and depression is real and needs more than prayer to heal. I believe in therapy and medication not just prayer and fasting. My personal views and morals seem to be in contradiction to the church, especially the black church. The church is rooted in a vicious cycle of patriarchy and misogyny. It’s still a place where women are judged by the lengths of their skirts or how she chooses to wear her hair and makeup.
“Come all who are weary and heavy laden…
but look the way I deem acceptable first”…[insert side eye]
I swear there isn’t a place on earth where black women aren’t trying to prove their worthiness…not even in church. The policing of black women’s bodies runs rampant in the church. The hypocrisy boggles my mind because the church is no different than the rest of the world; pews filled weekly with pedophiles, domestic abusers, adulterers, felons, addicts…etc. Women are fed the same tired doctrine that implies we are not acceptable and/or worthy unless we abide by patriarchal standards rooted in toxic masculinity. The irony is that churches are filled with single, black women praying, working and volunteering for the church, paying their tithes etc. It’s typically more women in services across the globe than men yet single women are often the brunt of the most judgement in the church. Constantly being told, to pray and hope that God sends you a man. Sighs…
Does a church or house of worship even exists where we (Black Women) are allowed to be seen as fully recognized human beings worthy of love and respect because we are all simply created in God’s image?
As much as I’ve missed parts of the worship experience, I find it difficult to attend. Was there a place where I could worship, be black, be single, be socially conscious, be a womanist, liberal and Christian? Was there a church where I wouldn’t be attacked or demonized for being a single mother? Can I attend a church without someone thinking I was looking for a man and “father for my kids”? Was there a place of worship where women would be encouraged to hold leadership positions instead of being told they weren’t allowed on the pulpit or in certain more visible positions? Was there a place of worship that I could attend where my body wouldn’t be over-sexualized, over policed or deemed “too tempting” to men no matter what I wore? (Because holding men accountable for their own lustful desires somehow is our fault and our responsibility). Was there a place I could grow closer to God without hearing the hateful rhetoric geared towards my LGBTQ friends?
I’m at a space in my life where I’m craving a deeper spiritual experience and connection with God. I just don’t know if I’ll find it in a house of worship.
For now, I’m searching but still spiritually homeless…