Growing up a Christian Scientist I often felt isolated from the rest of society. I didn’t go to the doctor, or take medication. I went to church every Sunday, and often on Wednesdays as well. I wasn’t “saved” or “born again” or even baptized. I hadn’t “found Jesus” or taken Communion classes. I didn’t go to Vacation Bible School, sing in a church choir, or actively participate in religious-based community outreach. I didn’t drink alcohol, do drugs, or have “promiscuous sex” after all, Christian Scientists don’t do those sorts of things.
I left CS slowly. I’m not sure when it started exactly, I’d been questioning CS for years, no one seemed to have answers beyond, pray harder, read the books, listen for God to talk to you.
I wanted it to work.
I went to Prin, seriously contemplated suicide (for the first and only time), lost one of my best friends, got entangled in a less-than-ideal relationship, and had a fun, but difficult four years. I didn’t “break the Prin code” although I did inadvertently break house hours on occasion. Over one winter break I read all of S&H from cover-to-cover and felt so inspired, and spiritual, and so holier-than-thou it was disgusting. I gushed about the “logical progression of thought” that MBE had used, and how much clearer everything was.
I’m not sure who that person is, but it isn’t me.
I also found and married a “good Christian Scientist” with a multi-generational CS family, and kept trying to make CS work for me.
I tried to read the lesson, I tried to “grow spiritually,” I tried to make sense of it, and in the end I became a “medicine cabinet” Christian Scientist. Deep down, I probably always had been, only really turning to CS in times of “need.” I hated attending church, it was boring, and brought back memories of my childhood friend who had passed away.
While I could happily say “nothing is lost in God’s kingdom” when I misplaced my house keys, it always felt shallow. “There is no sensation in matter” worked great until I was doubled over with menstrual cramps that were so horrible I couldn’t walk. Tylenol worked better for my occasional tension headaches than prayer, and I preferred hormonal birth control over chance and condoms. I was going through the motions, and that was about it.
A year or two into our marriage, I attempted attending the local CS church, which only brought to light some social-anxiety issues. The church ladies always wanted to talk, and while I was interested in being part of some community, I didn’t want to belong to that one.
A few months after Kid1’s arrival I gave church another try. I needed a break, and $1 donation for an hour childcare is a fabulous deal. I left my husband at home to sleep, loaded Kid1 into the car, drove to church, and deposited him with the well-meaning-but-clueless childcare attendant. Then dutifully followed the lesson in my full text. To stay awake I listened for mistakes in the readings. I managed this a few times, and then gave up. It felt fake. It felt dishonest. Inexpensive childcare aside, it felt like a waste of my Sunday morning. It might’ve been improved with donuts and coffee, but not much.
Shortly after Kid2’s arrival that the Mormons made an entrance into my life. By this point I was considering myself to be a “seriously lapsed CS” and “somewhat Christian” in that we celebrated Easter and Christmas (mostly out of societal convention).
After a few talks with the well-meaning missionaries I came out to my husband: I’m pretty sure I’m an atheist, or at the very least agnostic. He looked up from his computer: I’m pretty sure I am too.