God is bigger than beer

26 Sep

Not too long ago, I wrote a note on Facebook about my quest in trying to understand God, trying to find a religion I truly believe in, etc. I’ve read & studied about all types of religions; I’ve gone to many different services, met many different priests & preachers…

Nothing was doing it for me. Some things were too strict, some things were too liberal. I’m a very liberal person, so when I think something is TOO liberal, that’s saying something.

greekchurch2greek1I stopped going to the Greek church (where I was baptized) when I was 9 years old. Half of the service was done in Greek, which I didn’t understand, & by the time they got to the English part, I was already tuned out & wasn’t paying attention. Religion should never be forced- that’s something I learned from my mother, so she told me if I didn’t want to go back, I didn’t have to.

I didn’t go back for 13 years. & it never bothered me up until recently.

I moved to a city that I first loved. There’s so much in San Francisco to see & learn. But after a few months, that all started to fade away. A part of it had to do with the fact that I have moved 11 times in the past 5 years, & I’m pretty sure the move to California just took it out of me. I’m tired of leaving. & it’s not fun anymore. However, I moved out here for a reason. & I have committed myself to staying here until I graduate school, so I knew I was going to have to dig myself out of the slump I had sunk into.

I kept looking for things that made me happy; different activities, my friends, driving along the coast with my windows down while blasting The Rolling Stones….None of it was working the way I had hoped.

One day, it all just clicked. I needed a stronger faith. I’ve always been a spiritual person. I’ve always believed in God. The world is too incredible for there not to be a higher power…but I never understood why. Without having some understanding of anything, it’s hard to put your entire heart into it. & that’s exactly where I stood. I believed, but I didn’t know what I believed in or how to properly believe in it.

It may sound confusing, & I’m sorry- it makes sense in my head.

I did my research with various religions. Read & studied a lot. Went to a lot of different services. I wasn’t having much luck. I decided to give my original religion another shot. I went back to the Greek church.

There’s a big difference in going to church when you’re 23 as opposed to 9. I wanted to be there. I wanted to understand. I wanted to feel connected.

greek2It probably sounds cheesy, but as I sat in the pew, my heart melted. I was happy & sad all at once. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was finally getting it.

I took communion for the first time in 13 years. I felt blessed. I really did. Father Michael (my priest) found me after the service & welcomed me to the church. He asked me why I chose to come. I told him I felt lost & disconnected & I wanted to understand more about my faith.

He told me this story about him having a stroke, which caused him to have awful back problems. He said he sees it as a gift. He’s now able to relate to those who have gone through the same thing & can spread his warmth & love onto them- & they trust him more because they know he’s been in their shoes. He then said it’s okay for me to have my doubts, it’s okay that I make mistakes, it’s okay that I feel lost sometimes. By feeling the way I do, & making the mistakes I have, I am now able to connect myself to more people. I am able to make a bigger impact on others than I would had I not had my doubts, etc. He told me that no matter what I do, how foul my language may be, how many doubts I may have, I am still loved, cared for, & welcomed.

It’s exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve heard one too many times God is judging me & I need to find Jesus because I say the word “fuck” more than I probably should, or because I have one too many drinks in celebration after a semester of school ends. People made me fear Him- like He was hovering over me, shaking his head, & just waiting to damn me to Hell with whatever my next move was going to be.

greek3Finally, someone made me realize that’s not the case. Someone took the time out of their day to sit down with me & tell me God thinks I am a good person, even if I drop f-bombs more than I blink.

What Father Michael said to me, what he said during church, made me realize that I belong to the church I have always been associated with. I have started going back to the Greek Orthodox Church. I take communion every Sunday, I light candles for those I love, I do my cross, I kiss my icons, I pray, etc.

I see the world much differently than I did before. Things have become easier out here. I have something to turn to when I feel so lost I may puke.

I’m happy. I’ve found what I was looking for. & in case you were wondering, all of these pictures are of my church. It is beautiful there, but you should see the one in Birmingham. You’ll lose your breath.

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One Response to “God is bigger than beer”

  1. Ashley Martin 09/29/2009 at 4:59 am #

    Ann, thanks so much for sharing this with me!! I seriously love watching people who are truly searching God out in their lives. It’s such a beautiful thing and it’s always so cool to see how God reveals himself to the searcher. I’m excited for you!

    If you have some free time soon, you should read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It came out a few years ago and it’s pretty stellar. Just the way he puts everything is amazing, not to mention his writing style is awesome (I think so anyways! lol). I really connected with it when I read it, and I think you may do the same. It’s just one of those things where you read it and you’re like “wow…I never thought of it that way!”

    If you’re interested in reading it, let me know and I can mail you our copy. It’s pretty hard to find in Christian bookstores because it’s kinda radical. Like there’s one part where Don is biking across country and meets some hippies and hangs out with them while their smoking pot in the woods..and well…the strict christian population doesn’t like that part…

    Anyways…I’m adding your blog to my google reader (hope you don’t mind!) so that I can stalk you đŸ˜‰

    Also, when you get back home, I want to visit your church with you – if you’re okay with that! I want to see it. Different churches/services fascinate me.

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