Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tired of Religion

Lately I am finding myself in a deep funk about religion. I am just tired of it. I am tired of thinking about it and debating it and pondering it. I just don't care. I know a lot of this feeling has to do with how things ended at my last church. I feel burned out from devoting so much time to something I felt was important only to feel like it was all for naught. I can't say that the nine years was wasted, I did receive a lot of benefits and I hope that I made some sort of impact, but I am very reluctant to put out that much effort again. It has just reminded me that ministers, priests, clergy are just as human as me or you. They have no special divinity and, really, not a whole lot of extra insight. I am having a difficult time justifying going to services, when I get as much self-reflection reading at home. I don't want to make connections only to have them broken when I can't support the leadership. I am angry that despite all my work and trying for improvement, I am the one who has to leave. It is very hard to commit again. I just don't see the point.


Anonymous said...

Your post makes me sad.

Mickbic said...

I have attended UU Churches for about 25 years and been a member for about 15 years. I think the best way to avoid burnout is to limit your amount of attendance and involvement.

Bridgett said...

1. We're reading Little House in the Big Woods, too!

2. This post: sigh. Been there, felt that before. I wound up going back because dang it, it's my parish, too--but Catholic parishes are different from other congregations. I wasn't going to give up my church just because I was angry with the principal of the school and felt betrayed by the pastor (on a work thing, not a personal thing). I was going to stay. And I did. And it was hard. And I was very tempted to leave. Now I'm so glad I stuck it out.

On the other hand, Leo's godmother left her church and stayed away a long time. Said similar things--she was all churched out. Later she came around to another denomination, but even there, didn't let herself get drawn in too close. No parish/congregation is perfect, no sermon changes your life forever and always, no committee meeting or picnic planning brainstorm or parish council is going to crack open the gates of heaven...it's all the same stuff again and again.

And it's hard to stay if it doesn't give you life. Sometime leaving is the best spiritual step you can make.

(In my case, I had the urging of a catholic spouse who wasn't goin nowhere, nohow....).

Elizabeth J. Barrett said...

I'm saddened by your post. I wonder if you're feeling as if your church is not your home anymore, not your place to be nurtured, inspired and challenged? I am not pleased, either, that ministers have feet of clay like everyone else. Couldn't they at least have smaller feet than the rest of us? Or just clay heels?
May your faith somehow sustain you through this....

Paul Oakley said...

Life moves. It's not just a line we follow through space/time from point A to point B. It's not just a cycle of moving through a series of experiences to wind up back where we started. It's not just a spiral combining features of line and circle as we move through spacetime. It moves. In ways we might never expect.

Regardless of your approach, there is nothing to feel bad about if you find you need to pull back from the way you were interacting with religion, the way you were being religious.

I can't know just from your post, but perhaps your approach to religion has been centered strongly on thinking and doing/working. And it hasn't taken you quite where you want to be. So I would suggest, for what it's worth, while you take a break from religion, that you try out placing your emphasis a little differently.

If meditation (as opposed to contemplation) works for you, try that. If prayer has meaning to you, try making your life more prayerful. If chanting fulfills a spiritual need, chant to your heart's content. If candles and incense transport you, allow them to do so. If sitting alone in a forest washes away your anxiety and angst, go to the forest as frequently as you can - not to hike, not to climb, not to explore, but to commune - to be. In other words, try putting your effort more into being than into doing.

If/when you're ready to return to church, you'll have a broader base to your spiritual life to help you overcome the very real obstacles that church sometimes throws up.

smijer said...

I don't have much to say, either... I hear what you are saying. Sometimes it is time to quit wrestling with religion and letting it occupy your mind... sometimes it's time to just sit back and let the relationships you have through the church nourish you. And sometimes, it's just time to leave. Good luck to you, no matter what.

ms. kitty said...

A sabbatical is a good thing when you've been deeply involved. Everybody gets burned out. Give yourself time and don't assume it's over forever.

Anonymous said...


Having just stumbled across your post, may I offer the following comments? I understand how you feel about church. You are tired, frustrated and feel as though there is no point. You did not write as to which church or denomination you are attending, but I will assume you have been there for a number of years. Most christians reading what I have to say next will likley take exception, but what I write is the truth - and the Bible proves it. Very few churches today are teaching or practicing christianity as taught by Jesus and described in the Bible. Most of the traditions, church hiearchy, and doctrine cannot be supported by scripture. Should you look into this, you will be very suprised as to how much of "christianity" is not found in the Bible. I encourage you to carefully read the letter Paul wrote to Timothy on church organization. How very different this is from the majority of churches today.

The true church is the body of Christ, and is composed of those saints keeping His commandments and living a life of faith in Him. We must not allow any church, leader or teacher tell us "what the Bible says", for most of them simply do not know. There is a great famine of the Word of God today, and in general, the church teachings have strayed too far. Whether or not you post my comments, I thank you for sharing your feelings, and allowing me to be part of your world. Please feel free to visit my blog, at http://learnthebibleca.wordpress.com

God bless,

Kaleigh said...

Wow, those are hard words for me to read. I'm very, very burned out right now, but I can't make myself pull away. In all honesty, if I weren't so entrenched (read: my daughter loves our church more than anything else), I'd bail.

But I don't.

Because our liberal brand of religion is important. At least to my daughter. And if it's important to her, it's probably important for a lot of people. She's only twelve, after all.

Passion is a lot. It's a whole lot. But sometimes routine is a big player, too.

DanaCK said...

I think it's really easy for UUs to feel this way and most of us have been there. I've pulled back a few times, but always go back because of the people I do love and to provide my daughter with a religious family.

After a particularly contentions event at our fellowship, where the director of education had an affair with a member, it nearly tore our congregation apart. The only thing that helped me through was reminding myself that they are, in fact, a sort of family. It may have weird uncles, odd cousins, and overbearing mother-in-laws, etc, but they are part of my spiritual journey, and none of us are perfect.

I hope you find peace with this. I'd love having you in my congregation!! :)

plaidshoes said...

Thank you all for your comments. You have really given me some things to think about. I don't want to give up on UU, but I do need a break. It is hard to build the trust back up once it has been broken. I think, like Bridgett mentioned, if I was culturally UU, it would be easier. I am going to post about this later, but since there is not a stronger tie, it is easier to step way back. I just don't know. But, I am really pondering all your comments. Thank you!

Lynn said...

I'm United Methodist clergy spouse. My wife is a UM pastor on sabbatical. I attended a bible college when I was a kid. And I'm burned out too. I'm fed up with doctrine, fed up with nasty, dysfunctional christian, fed up with denomination hogwash, fed up with the bible and trying to make a 2000 year old book revelant to modern humanity. I'm just tired of it all. I still attend services, but sometime wonder why.

I understand what yer saying and maybe email you sometime when I have more time. Thanks for your post. I can relate.