Many people at CAF appear to suffer from this in one form or another (remaining on the fence forever or jumping around from one faith/tradition to another frequently), some for many years. Others are in one faith but display this same confusion even while there. Just what is the problem? I’m not criticizing this- clearly no one does this for fun. But I can’t appreciate it very well either. What goes on that prevents a choice? Is it desiring 100% proof before making a committment (which can hardly be achieved) that causes this?
In some ways we are like children. We want our spiritual authorities to be holy, or perfect. We want to be able to trust those in whom we give our loyalty and obedience.
In some ways we are idealists. We want our faith tradition to be historically, and presently representative of the ideals that we think best reflects the teachings of our Christian faith.
In some ways we want to maintain some semblance of autonomy, and not be controlled.
We would want some degree of spiritual freedom in discussing complex theological teachings which do not seem to have definitive resolutions without being labeled a heretic.
In some ways we want to be able to love our brother in the Lord who is of another fold, without judging that person to be incomplete in our Lord Jesus Christ. Or, we may want to be part of a fold that is not so inclusive that there are no definitive doctrinal or moral standards to uphold.
One could disregard all these concerns and just be obedient to the faith tradition in which one was baptized. This is totally acceptable to God, but there are others who are not of that mold, and can never be of that mold, try as they might.
Frankly, I stick with Catholicism but my head spins when it comes to choosing between East and West. If I were to be honest, I just can’t handle being Roman in times like these. Something about the condition of things, dealing with Protestants, and just the overall tradition doesn’t sit right with me. But there are things I like (or am used to) that I don’t want to leave, and ultimately I just feel like I’m the problem and I feel guilty for wanting to jump ship.
Indecisiveness can also be described at searching for the truth. MY personal experience follows:
Born and raised Freewill Baptist. This entails knowing Scripture thoroughly. However in the Conference that my Church was affiliated to was that you accepted interpretations of the Bible as yur Elders told them to be without question, not unlike the Catholic Church, believe what the Church tells you to believe.
So I disagreed with some of the interpretations. I longed to understand for myself that what my Elders were telling me were accurate and not one a collaborated opinion of a few.
Fast forward to dating age and I met my now husband of 24 years. His mother had just returned to The Catholic Church after being away since the age of 11. And his father a Freewill Baptist in the same conference as my own church.
Dating was interesting, as we had to date via church. So we rotated. My FWB church, the next Sunday The Catholic Church, the next his dad’s FWB church, and so forth and so on. Keep in mind the word Catholic was a dirty word in my world. They worshipped Mary, Prayed to the Dead, Believed the Eucharist became the Body and Blood of Christ, not just a symbol of such, they baptize babies which condemns their soul to Hell. Calling the Priest father.
I had questions, accusations, strong Baptist beliefs. yet I saw something, felt something that wasn’t present in my Baptist Church.
Married. Now I do as I want, dont wanna go to Church, dont gotta, this is my life.
Get pregnant, hmm no longer my life. Need to think about church and God. had my 1st child baptized in the catholic Faith. Start attending Catholic Church regularly, attend RCIA, Bible Study. Cant get past some of my “Catholic hangups”. Namely confessing to a Priest, Calling a priest father.
Fell away from church again. 2nd child born. When I returned to Church went back to FWB. After all The Catholic Church was wrong. Confessing to men, calling a Priest father.
Then the more I attended FWB the more judgmental, holier than thou, the live the perfect life or go to a devil’s Hell. No sinning allowed ever.
I looked at my husband and said I have to find another Church, then cant be the way to be. He said to me. “Well my mother is Catholic and my father is Baptist, Iguess if I ever go to Church it would have to be Methodist, a happy medium”.
So to the Methodist church I trod. Felt at home. Believed in Grace, ok if you mess up, get up and try again. They didnt confess to men and they didnt call the Pastor father.
After much study and discernment, gave the hang up of calling the Priest Father. Still hang up on confessing to men for the absolution of sins. Had asked the question, looking for understanding. Just throw me a bone. The best I got from the priest at the time was, “Just look at me like I am Jesus Christ”. Nothing biblical, scriptural, just do. No, sorry cant do it. Went to the Sister at the Church at the time, her response was “Maybe you are just not meant to be Catholic”. As if I was just supposed to accept everything with blind faith. Had I been able to do that I would have never left the Baptist church.
Then the liberal views of homosexual lifestyles and their rights and women ordination starting to become prevalent in the Methodist Church. I thought well, as long as it doesnt come to MY Methodist Church i am ok. It did.
Went home looked at my husband and said I cant do it anymore. He said well there is only one church (this is after years of maturing and discernment) that will never accept either of those 2 things and they have been doing the same thing since Church began. Yep. The Catholic Church.
Still the hangup of Confession to a Priest. So to the internet I took. After reading, I finally landed on a forum, not this one, and a Protestant and a catholic were in deep discussion about this very thing. The Catholic gentleman did not say just accept it, its the Church teaching, he took the Protestant to the New Testament and showed him the Scripture that backed up this very thing.
So here I am now attending the catholic Church again, fixing to begin RCIA in 2 weeks. Will I join the Church on Easter Vigil? Don’t know. Hope to. Want to. But if I dont or cant that will be just fine with me. because God knows I seek to find Him in truth. And as far as I know the Catholic Church cant throw you out of Mass for not being a member, they can only refuse to serve you the Eucharist. So if I can only receive Christ through the Eucharist spiritually, so be it…I want to know, no blind faith that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing.
When you’re young and have social anxiety issues then yes, dealing with the kind of stuff Protestants like to throw at Catholics is a major source of stress and fear. I’m very bad at defending myself, even though I have head knowledge I always seem to get stereotyped/relativismed to death :rolleyes: Not to mention being a millennial makes being a member of the “big, bad, evil” organized religion quite difficult. I feel ostracized and kind of helpless when it comes to changing people’s minds. On top of that, I lean traditional and there are no parishes near here where I could really fit in, so I feel like the odd man out on both sides.
They feel they are just as right in their faith as you are in yours. Defend yourself by learning scripture to back up your beliefs. No one forces you to debate, you can simply agree to disagree. But how are you being a light and showing them the way if you simply dislike them, avoid them like the plague.
Everyone gets stereotyped. Shoot because I worked all the time and when I was home (lived in a busy 3 way stop) my blinds were never open for the world to see in. So either I had a dirty house or was very anti social.
I have neither issue.
You cant change peoples minds, only plant the seed.
Actually in the Midwest. And I’m kind of a strange fellow all around. Basically a traditionalist metalhead. I used to call myself a walking contradiction. But at 23, and with mental illnesses and just general social awkwardness, this is all getting really difficult for me. I’m not about to bail out on what I see as the truth but I’m extremely unhappy. I shut down when anyone disputes my beliefs and I lose my ability to recall and explain things as eloquently as I would if they were just a friend and I were comfortable. I feel culturally at odds with a large swath of western Christendom, and at odds with my peers as well. I don’t have any Catholic friends. I’m suffering from irritable depression and social anxiety right now and I can barely handle church because I’m afraid of the people there because I feel so different. When I go to the Divine Liturgy people are nice to me, the Liturgy is done properly, the priest doesn’t try to push me to be more “heart-oriented”. At the same time, I like the experiential and therapeutic elements of Byzantine Christianity, and I find it more comfortable for me because it’s something different. It’s almost like an alternative religion to me, but not. I don’t wind up caught in the crossfire of tradition wars and a history of trying to defend Rome. People don’t know about it, so they’re more open to learn. So on and so forth.
I totally understand in more way than you know. I understand what it is like to feel attacked for beliefs. Sometimes religious beliefs is a really hot buton for some, me included. Being unhappy is very difficult to cope with when you dont seem to have any one around that understands what you are going through. Almost lost my marriage a few years back because he could not understand what I was going through mentally, emotionally or spiritually. If you dont feel comfortable discussing your faith in a debate type way, then by all means dont. If others press you, just politely tell them that your beliefs and faith are not a conversation topic. They cant argue with themselves, lol. I also understand the need to belong in the place where you worship. I have been attending the parish in my town for more than months now, and just this past Sunday as I was walking out was the parish bulletin extended to me. No one speaks. Except for the word peace during the sign of peace, lol. But I just keep telling myself I am there to serve and be obedient to Christ, not to socialize. maybe some folks in the congregation will come around, maybe not. Prayers going up for you.
I would never tell anyone to have blind faith, or just believe a religion simply because other people around you do- I never could do that, even as a child. I was just curious about this because some people really seem to know enough to make a choice or even seem to have made a mental choice but can’t follow it through for some reason. I see some of it as an inability to let go of our own intellect or “control” over their own fate- which is really a crisis of faith (the virtue), so I was wondering if there are other reasons that are not so easily detectable by me or from outside the person, which they could share. Thanks for sharing.
PS- Have you bought a copy of the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church)? I can’t think of anything else that will answer all your questions on the faith better, with all the attendant scriptural references. Please find it.
I wish you rest in your journey, that you may finally be at home.
Dear Marybeloved, I am guilty of spending lots of time jumping around from one church to another as I tried to find a place where I wanted to go to church each week and where there were people I could enjoy and have fellowship with. Even though I was absolutely a cradle Catholic who went to Catholic grade school through college I never felt right about the Church. There are so many reasons I felt like that, but I also felt this little voice inside me, the Holy Spirit calling me back. So, I made a full confession and returned a long time ago and now I am at peace. But, it was a process and I see it in many of the people who post here, just like you did. We need to pray for them and I would ask you to join me in prayer to help these people find their way home. God please send your Holy Spirit to the hearts of your children who are confused, help them to find the faith you want them to have for you and your Catholic Church.
I’m sure God is able to use me where I am, and I am fortunate to be a member of a very “Catholic-friendly” congregation. I feel free to study our shared history,and try to understand our remaining differences. As the Holy Spirit pulls us all to unity, I am assured that one day we truly will be in communion, whether I am finally called to swim the Tiber in this life, or wait til eternity.
Sometimes I think indecicivenss has it’s root in fear. As though God would “punish” or “reject” a serious Seeker. So many want to be told what to believe and gain some sense of “security” that they have “arrived” at a place they can be confident is teaching them Truth.
It must be a wonderful feeing to believe one is in the “One True Church” and all other faith communities are in error in some way…
I think the indecision in most people is an honest search for Truth. Some people “need” the security of believing the faith community they belong to is somehow the most pleasing community to God…and by being in that community God’s favor resides with them.
Some people need an “authority” figure…a “parent” figure as it takes the responsibility off of them as if they can blame the “authority” if it proves wrong…from the beginning we have that kind of thinking…“The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Didn’t work then…don’t think it would work now. I think the indecisiveness causes us to forget what grace is all about…
From your post its hard to tell if you mean to criticize indecisiveness or the definite unreserved choice of a faith. You really could be speaking of either one. While it sometimes may be true what you say about people needing to be told what to do, the truth is that mostly, giving up ones right of self determination in every aspect of ones life is really the hardest thing to do. Ones own judgments and self will are the hardest things to give up, yet they constitute the necessary sacrifice in committing to most faiths or religions. I dont think humans were made for that type of self reliance you seem to imply at first glance- thats why religion is so healthy. Adam fell for trying instead of allowing himself the trust of Abraham. Apart from the new religions that try to circumvent this basic need to give up ones inner self rule (liberalism/humanism) to a higher power with real rights and demands over you (submission), true religion means giving up fundamentally these rights over ones own course/will in real ways, so Im not sure I agree with your assessment of people needing a daddy unless you mean that in the Christian sense of the fatherhood of God. But in that case, then that would include all people, even those who tell themselves that they have no need to give themselves up in that way and can basically decide truth for themselves unlike those religious people who need to be told what to do.
As someone who has been in this position (as some on CAF will know) I don’t think it’s anything to do with 100% proof, but for me personally, several paths of faith were all being presented to me, all with supposedly valid evidence for them and for me personally, it was quite overwhelming to sit down, examine each one critically and then decide which was the correct one according to the conclusions I’d drawn.
I think that what makes people set into one faith is some event or thing which sets their mind to the correct path for them. It can be soomething someone says, does, a passage in a book/Scripture, a piece of music, anything which focuses the mind and makes the correct faith decision clear as day to them.
For me personally it was hearing a passage of the Qur’an and truly feeling something other than just hearing someone read words off a page. I felt almost like those words were written for me and that God truly was speaking to me directly.
I feel compassion for those who are beset by indecision concerning faith.
I think we do ourselves harm by living in “fear” of God and not reaiize He is Love itself…His mercy endures forever…“Who among you would give his child a serpent when he asks for fish, or a stone when he asks for bread…”
I don’t think God witholds Truth to those who seek Him…“Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened up to you.” IMO we get bogged down on trying to decide how many angels can dance on the head of a pin…when all we are required to do is “love God, and your neighbor…this is the Law and the Prophets”…but oh…it is nice to understand the mysteries…or think we do anyways…when all we really must do is “come to me and I will give you rest from your labors”.
No, I don’t criicize indecision…it’s a burden so many of us bear…but there is One who will take our burden from us, if we trust Him to…there is grace and mercy waiting for us.