Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Losing My Religion

I've been meaning to write something that isn't just an entry on my diary about my life outside of church and have just been delaying it because I needed an angle that wouldn't offend or disrespect my family or the religion I grew up in.I gave up on that angle recently when I realized that the life I lead now is already offensive and disrespectful to the way I was brought up!
I grew up in a home where my great grandfather and grandfather were Mfundisis (pastors) and a list of other family members were either preachers or preacher's wives. Our lives revolved around church - our house would often be used for church service or accommodate displaced church members. Naturally, there was a lot of praying and singing and speaking in tongues and prophesying and bible-reading and fasting in my life and and...
Sunday mornings started with Derrick Nzimande and Holy Cross Choir blaring through my uncle's hi-fi system, getting everyone's hearts prepared for church. We would then spend 5 (long) hours in the church building listening to preaching and a sprinkling of songs between the different preachers' turns. It was an altogether painful exercise for me. Listening to grown men half shouting the word to people who either looked like they were faking interest or over excited about the whole thing. The kids would battle boredom, lose and end up in sleeping heaps on the carpet next to the alter. I grew up to envy them bitterly.

As a teenager I rebelled and started listening to secular music, went to parties and started wearing that super shiny R5.00 lip gloss that made 15 year olds feel like they were ready to move out of home! I even started wearing eyeliner! Hardcore, radical rebellion, right?!
I felt like a badass for a while until I started listening in on my schoolmates' conversations. I discovered that I was a mere cushiony baddie. Softcore AF! People were out there having their first joints and kissing boys behind the school toilets and there I was thinking listening to MOP and The YingYang twins would reserve me a place in satan's lake of fire! Mnxm!
Because peer pressure is a motherfucker I ended up doing some hardcore sinning and ended up leaving church ( I couldn't stand the guilt every time the preaching touched on my ways).
Fast forward a few years when life had brought me to my young adult knees ( ok fine! A boy dumped me!) I found a cool church that played christian rock and even had christian rap (can you cope??!) It's at this church that I felt I met God and started pursuing his ways. I was in the church for 8 years. The last two I spent going back and forth trying to leave and afraid that I would become a disgrace and God himself would strike me with a plague. I mean, I heard it in sermons all the time. People who's ways disregarded God would end up in eternal hell, become 100 times worse than they were when they met God and just become a feast for demons.#Fear.

I felt trapped. I couldn't stand the arrogance that was fed to me over the pulpit and how personal success wasn't promoted. Wanting to improve your life was read as being carnal and worldly (for a long time I thought this word was evil....the word 'feminist' too) and questioning things made you the enemy of God's work. I couldn't anymore! All I knew meant I didn't fit in anymore. It felt like my goals and the "will of God" couldn't co-exist. So I left.

I'm now the girl whose Sundays are spent in sweats, a doek, wine and Nina Simone in the background. Or I'll be with my friends talking about things that nourish our souls and recording One Bum Cheek twerk videos that no one will ever see! That has become my church.
I'm still unlearning some of my inherited prejudices so I haven't had time to redefine what a relationship with God is or who God is but I know too well that there is a God and a great orchestrator somewhere out there.
I don't have answers, I just know I don't want to be a part of anything that oppresses who I am. What's weird is that I still love christian music and when shit happens my first instinct is to pray about things *shrugs*.
It's become important to me to call myself out when I catch myself judging people or situations I was brought up to judge and to respect people for who they are. I'm also much gentler with myself because I'm all I have got. There is no hope of a life after this where things will be made right therefore living and doing right now makes sense.

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