About Thirty by Thirty
12/20/11 Welcome to Thirty by Thirty, my Interfaith Experiment. In 365 Days and 30 Places of Worship, I hope to find my own, true faith.I want to prove you don’t need to abandon your life or wander the world looking for spiritual peace. Most weeks I “travel” to a new region of religion with its own costumes, music and customs, but I rarely drive more than an hour from my home in the Midwest. It’s spiritual pilgrimage… on the cheap!
I started my Thirty by Thirty project in May 2011 to overcome what I call “Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome”, the damage that was inflicted on me by my strict evangelical upbringing and studying to be in the ministry. After breaking up with my childhood faith around the age of 20 then suffering through nearly a decade of spiritual silence, I started attending thirty places of worship of all different religions with the goal of finding true faith…or at least collecting great stories along the way!
Thirty by Thirty is like a “Spiritual Boot Camp“, or self-administered “Spiritual Shock Therapy”… it’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s the path I’m carving to find the heart of my faith. I began writing this blog about my Thirty by Thirty thoughts and experiences for two reasons. First: to keep myself publicly accountable for completing the journey—it’s much harder to quit if people are watching! Second (and most important): to motivate others to color outside the lines of their own religions.
I’m not out to find a church, but to rediscover the wonder and mystery that is God, in all forms, inside and outside of the box I formerly locked the Divine in. Seven months and eighteen churches in (as of 12/11), I’ve had Spiritualists speak to my dead relatives, been hit on at the Buddhist temple, and let a thug lay hands on my feet for Reiki healing. I was nearly kicked out of the Synagogue for accidentally breaking Sabbath rules, and I partied with the Hindus on their New Year. From straight-laced Baptists and “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!” Baptists to swinging-from-the-chandelier Pentecostals and GLBT Methodists, I’m pounding the religious pavement looking for the faith I lost nearly a decade ago when I walked away from the religion of my youth, and what I thought was my life calling in Christian ministry.I hope to inspire those who believe they can not seek faith (perhaps due to their own form of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome?), and tell them that their journey, like mine, doesn’t have to fit into a box with a pre-printed label.
Whether you are a recovering religious-ite, here for the tall tales, or just want a little giggle, all God’s children are welcome at my
table blog. (Except those who don’t allow everyone else to sit down…well, that’s my own hangup…I’m working on it!)
Please, don’t take everything I say too seriously… because religion? It’s often downright hilarious.
Disclaimer: My opinions are only those of ONE (admittedly spiritually-damaged) gal who has attended only ONE service at ONE venue for each place of worship. I am biased at best. So… Go Ye Forth into all the world! Attend some new places of worship! Draw your own conclusions! (That’s what I’m hoping for.)
About Rebecca “Reba”
I was an Evangelical Poster Child. I grew up feeling “called” to be in Christian Ministry and pursued that calling by attending a Bible college, intensive Christian worldview training, and ministry training. For reasons too many and painful for this paragraph, I discovered my faith didn’t fit anymore around the age of twenty. I severed my connection with everything remotely spiritual and lost everything at once: my history, identity, purpose, calling–all gone (poof!) disintegrated. I told God I didn’t want His calling, and He could take His religion and…you get the idea. I was rejected by many, scorned by a few, and pitied by all who whispered “She never knew God to begin with.”
Only in the past two years have I started to heal enough to tap into my latent spiritual side. At 29, this was my burning question: could I rediscover God outside of the only ways I knew to look for Him? Did He exist outside of the evangelical world, or even outside of Christianity? I knew I’d have to do something drastic, but what? I stewed over the idea until I hatched Thirty by Thirty– my Spiritual Boot Camp/Shock Therapy “treatment” plan to overcome PTCS….365 Days. Thirty Places of Worship. One Chance to Find Faith.
This blog is the chronicle of my journey.
In “real life”, I am a wife to law student Trent and “mother” to our puppy, Oxley. We live in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and I work full time as an outside sales representative of construction materials.I have a B.A. in Psychology and Communications from Ohio State University, and I penned a popular column in the OSU newspaper featuring musings about life and humorous personal experiences. Since college, I have written professionally for several businesses and published a few freelance articles. In addition to Thirty by Thirty, I plan to co-write a father-daughter survival guide to divorce entitled “Daddy, Don’t Divorce Me” with my Dad. Saving dads and daughters from the pain my father and I suffered is as much a passion of mine as spiritual transformation.
My officially official author website is www.RebaRiley.com. Thanks for reading!