People always complain about how going to Church ruined their lives, gave them a suitcase of guilt to drag around or provided some false sense of reality for them to follow. I listen to a radio talk show host in the morning who regularly bemoans his religious upbringing. Well, I have another perspective to share.
I grew up in the 1960s and became interested in God at a very young age. Maybe it was just that I had seen too many episodes of Davey and Goliath, but I found the benefits of looking to someone greater then myself for help just too appealing to refuse. Although it's not fashionable to talk about God today unless you call him a 'higher power' or refer to him in some non-gendered way, I will. Going to Church taught me a number of things about God and myself.
As a child, I remember being bored out of my head during church services at a mainline denominational church. My parents insisted that I attend the regular services with them which were stale and ritualized. When I was finally allowed to participate in Sunday School, I found full of a bunch of mean kids. They loved telling younger children that Santa Claus, Leprechauns and the Easter Bunny didn't exist. A few years later, that local church became a weird cult that split away from the denomination. Who says that God doesn't have a sense of humor?
During my teens I transitioned myself to a local church where worship was a bit less stylized, but not overly legalistic. While they didn't shove it down your throat, things like drinking alcohol, doing drugs and smoking were frowned upon. Considering all the people I've known who have died of drug overdoses, cancer, emphysema and liver disease, I would say that church saved me a lot of grief. I managed to get through my teens and beyond without those vices.
Going to Church taught me to believe in God and myself. Those are two valuable lessons. As a person, I believe that I can accomplish many things. As a Believer, I know that God will be there to help. I trust him to pick me up when I fall down or assist me when others try to trip me up. That eliminates a huge amount of worry. Anyone who has ever missed a nights sleep or more worrying over some seemingly unsolvable dilemma can appreciate the value of placing their lives in the hands of God.
God has become a dirty word to the 'me' generation. He gets blamed for false cults that kill people and lunatics that beat their wives and children. However, before you replace him with Doctor Feelgood and his latest best-selling book, pause to reflect on your life. If you've got guilt and all kinds of problems, it's probably not God who got you there. On the contrary, it's God who can help you to move forward and get beyond all that.
Although going to Church is fine, you don't have to go there to find God. He is everywhere just waiting for you to ask for some help. The only thing he wants from you is to believe in him. While a lot of people trash talk God and claim he's a crutch for people too weak to help themselves, I do not see it that way. I do not consider myself a weak person. God is a part of my strength and I am just fine with that. Only a very na´ve individual would turn their nose up at help from an all-powerful being.
God is not a dirty word to me. He is a constant source of encouragement, strength and good counsel. While he may not always be in vogue, God has never been one to try and win human popularity contests. Instead, he quietly sits back and offers us a relationship with him that benefits us far more then it does him. He is not a crutch, but an often untapped source of incredible power. Besides, how many human self-help gurus can say that have one book that is an all-time bestseller?