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Searching For Answers

I’m one of “those” Catholics. You know, the Catholic that only goes to church on special holidays like Christmas and Easter (if I remember), the occasional baptism or confirmation, and whenever my oldest son serves at Mass. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being in Church. I love the feeling that I get when I walk in, I love the stained glass windows and the beautiful alter. I feel comfort that the prayers and the traditions of the Catholic Church have stayed somewhat the same since I was a child.

But when I’m kneeling on my pew, during the time I’m supposed to be praying, I’m looking around wondering what in the world everyone around me is talking to God about in their heads. I gaze in amazement at the people who have their eyes closed and whose lips are moving as they are having their own personal conversation with God. I try to model their behavior; I bow my head and close my eyes but the only thing I can say in my head is “So, it’s Sarah. How are you doing?”

“How in the world are they doing that?” I wonder to myself. “How can all of these people around me be so close to God that they can have a conversation with Him and I can’t even get an opening sentence to form in my head?” Maybe it’s because they go to church more often than me and are better Catholics than I can ever hope to be. Maybe it’s because they are so virtuous that God has chosen to talk to them and ignores heathens like myself.

Then one Sunday while I was watching my oldest son serve at Mass it hit me. Maybe I’m not close to God because I don’t believe in Him the same way that everyone else around me does.

“Oh my gosh!” I thought to myself. “Am I an atheist? Do I not believe in God?” I began to panic in my brain, “Both of my sons attend Catholic school and their own mother can’t even pray properly. What kind of example am I setting?”

I squeezed my eyes shut and began to think about going to church when I was a little girl. I remembered going to Catholic mass and sitting in the pew next to my abusive mother, cringing when I felt her dig her fingernails into my arm if I didn’t stand up quickly enough or kneel when I was supposed to. I remember sitting and clasping my hands together tightly as I prayed and prayed to God to come down from Heaven and rescue me from my life. I begged for an answer to why I had to be born to such a cruel woman; why me and not someone else?

I was so much better talking to him when I was a little girl. But I never got an answer to my questions and no man from the sky swooped down to save me during one of Mom’s beatings. It was like God heard everyone else but me. So eventually, I gave up talking and asking for help. I gave up looking up for answers and realized I was on my own to save myself from my abusive situation. If God wasn’t going to help me, I would have to help myself.

So I guess you could say that I have a huge chip on my shoulder when it comes to God. I never got the answers I was so desperately seeking and I felt as if I never got the help I desperately begged Him for as a child.

When I go to church now, even though I get feeling of peace and familiarity when I walk through the doors, I still enter with a grudge and a chip on my shoulder. I enter angry because I never felt like any of the other parishioners in their pews with their heads bent over in prayer. I am envious of those who have that relationship with God and who have had prayers answered. I am ashamed when it is time for Communion and I won’t even allow myself to get up to take it.

That is why I can’t talk to God the way that others do. That is why I avoid church service and why I don’t take Communion. It isn’t because I don’t believe in God, it’s because I’m still so angry at Him and still seeking an answer as to why I had the mother I did and why I was treated the way that I was.

Maybe you feel the same way I feel. Maybe you question your faith and beliefs because you carry a chip on your shoulder and feel that your prayers have been ignored and unanswered. But you know what? Being angry and not knowing how to talk to God doesn’t make you a bad person or a heathen; it makes you human. Your relationship with God can’t be compared to the parishioners kneeling around you; your relationship with God is very personal and unique.

I’m still searching for answers. Maybe one day I can have a deeper conversation with God than, “So how are you doing?” Maybe one day.

Searching For Answers

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2017). Searching For Answers. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 7, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Jan 2017
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