Can I believe in God and worship my own way? Can’t I just see God in nature? Why do I have to go to church? Why do I have to follow God’s rules? Can’t I just follow my own rules?
We have the choice of free will and God will respect our choice. He won’t force us to come back to Him, but He WILL be there calling us back to Him. He will always love us, even enough to allow us to reject Him. We have to ask ourselves , “Who do we love more…God or me?” If you love God, then you will sacrifice yourself for Him for you know that your reward will be great in heaven.
We need to go to church for our spiritual nourishment that God and Jesus want so badly to give us. We need to go frequently so that we can resist sin and keep our souls perfectly gleaming white and stay close to Jesus. If you think about it, you wouldn’t have a spouse you only visit weekly or monthly or not at all, right? You wouldn’t have much of a relationship if you did that.
How do I have a personal relationship with Jesus? Doing anything to learn about Jesus is always good, reading the Bible or other resources, but you have to spend time knowing Jesus to form that closeness you crave. Spend time praying but also just talk to Jesus like you would a brother or best friend. Tell Him how you feel, what your frustrations are, thank Him for your blessings, pray for others, and ask for better understanding and a stronger faith.
My suggestion for you would be to get a crucifix and just spend time thinking about what He sacrificed for you. You are not worshipping the crucifix, just trying to understand His pain and suffering. What pain did He go through? I didn’t know until recently that when the soldiers took His clothes off to crucify Him, they also tore at His flesh because the blood had dried on his back and legs from being whipped and stuck to the robes. They don’t tell you these things growing up. He fell three times skinning his knees and elbows. Can you imagine the pain He experienced laying on that rough wood with all those open wounds on his back? He also had to rub on that wood to lift himself to breathe. Think about what He went through for us as sinners. His love for us is so immense that we can’t even comprehend it but we can see it on the crucifix.
Another way to become close to Jesus is to spend time with Him in Adoration. Even if you aren’t Catholic, you can still go to any Catholic Church and spend time with Him in front of the tabernacle knowing He is there. Seriously, try it. Ask what times they have Adoration and you can also go to see Him on the Altar. To treat Him with reverence, please be sure to bow to Him upon entering or leaving and remain silent during your time there (out of respect for others praying). Some churches have Adoration all day so you can easily fit it into your schedule. He is right in front of you. He is there, for you, to come and visit with. He wants your company and love.
The more time you spend WITH Him, the more you will come to KNOW Him and have that personal relationship with Him.