How To Stop Going To Church
Attend church with your family every Sunday, unquestioningly, as a ritual, a thing you’ve always done and will presumably always do.
From the pew, next to your mother, watch your father and sister sing in the choir. Notice your father can’t clap and move side to side at the same time.
Feel bored and listless except when the choir is singing or there’s a good, dramatic-sounding Bible reading.
Become more interested in the cute kid crawling around on the floor in the pew than in what the priest is saying.
Decide you like Jesus as like a charismatic character in a story moreso than as like “the Son of God.”
Stare lustfully at the daughter of a man your father knows who sits on the opposite side of the altar every week. Ponder the fact that, technically, according to religious teachings, you’re not supposed to even look at her this way, let alone do the things with her you are right now imagining in photorealistic detail.
Tell your parents, in a voice that feels like it’s cracking even if it’s actually not, that you think the church is “by implication sexist and it has a really terrible attitude about sexuality that makes people feel guilty for doing what is natural.”
Leave for college. Experience the unique anxiety and excitement of a freshman dorm. On Sunday, don’t wake up for church.
Let a week pass. Go out with your new friends on Saturday, don’t wake up Sunday. Talk with your mother on the phone and hope she doesn’t ask what your new church is like.
Lose your virginity on a couch, on the second and a half try, in the basement of your second real girlfriend’s parent’s basement.
Feel your parents’ vague disappointment without them voicing it. Sense that they know, somehow, what you’ve done and how you’ve changed.
Get into Zen Buddhism, but don’t actually go to a temple or meditate really.
Tell people you’re “more a spiritual person than religious.”
Skip mass whenever you’re visiting your parents. Sit on the couch in your robe while everyone else in the family goes. Wonder how you feel.
One year, go with them on Christmas Eve mass, because there’s Christmas music and the lights are dimmed and candles lit and it feels like a dramatic scene in a story.
Ponder if you’d ever make your children go to church if you ever have children.
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Surrounded by crowds, but still lonely. Alone in your apartment and still lonely.
I get scared when I feel “stuck” in my life. I get scared when I meet a new friend and I’m afraid he won’t like me.
Someone I know today could be a distant memory tomorrow and that is the nature of a storied life.
Great literature endures because it has great truth. For every question you’ve wanted answered, sorrow you’ve felt, and victory you’ve tasted, there’s a writer who has captured your emotion with immaculate grace.