Butterfly Faith This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     I grew up in a typical Midwestern town where new ideas often receive a less-than-warm welcome. The epitome of this attitude resonated in the Baptist church my family attended. Newcomers rarely found a niche in the close-knit social circles, and most soon disappeared. Those who fit in had been there since birth, and few ever left. Needless to say, when I decided to withdraw my membership, it caused quite a bit of gossip.

Every Sunday my mother had carted my brother and me to church whether or not I wanted to go. If I could breathe, I could worship. I never minded going because the stories sparked my interest and I managed to stay entertained. But then negative energy filled the air where joy should have abounded.

A certain amount of tension always existed between two core groups. The wealthy veterans sat in the front rows of the sanctuary like royalty. Most had attended since the turn of the last century and displayed the superiority of those who possessed and contributed more money than anyone else. If they disapproved of an idea, you could bet it would disappear by the following Sunday. They ruled the church like a dictator rules his country, and no one possessed the courage to overthrow them.

The other group consisted of the somewhat-new members with new ideas. They possessed a sense of old-fashioned tradition, though, so the veterans stifled any objections they showed.

When I turned 14, one event triggered the idea of my leaving this religious community. I brought a friend to church who belonged to the Catholic Church. My Sunday School teacher was cordial to her, but when my friend left, my teacher kindly explained that Catholics "did not belong in our church - not even to visit." I was shocked. I thought our church accepted all who entered its doors, but this woman told me that those from a different congregation did not belong. When I told the pastor what my teacher had said, he did not seem to mind at all. I went home and began to think that my beliefs about God differed from others in my church.

My actual exit from the church lacked any flare because I simply no longer showed up. One day a wo-man walked up to me in the grocery store and said that being pregnant outside of marriage did not mean I should stop coming to church. I stared at her and began to laugh, mostly from shock. When she looked at me with bewilderment, I explained that whatever rumor she had heard was false. She smiled and walked away.

Even now most of the people I knew from church will not look me in the eyes, let alone speak to me. The pastor who hugged me every Sunday has dropped my name from his memory. I never take their lack of friendliness to heart; for the most part, I feel better away from the church. A large group goes through the motions of being Christians every Sunday, but never considers how they truly feel about problems or people.

I have begun to develop my own beliefs since I've left. I searched for my own answers and discovered a relationship with God I am happy with. I feel more satisfied with my faith than I did when I attended church. As Jane Austen wrote, "Everybody likes to go their way - to choose their own time and manner of devotion."

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Faith-Morgan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 19, 2010 at 8:54 am
wow thats cool
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