Monday, October 5, 2009

Most Taboo Subject Possible..Hey, Why Not?

It's one of those topics that is well known to be "off limits" unless you want a fight on your hands. It ranks right up there with politics and money. You know the one I'm talking about. Well, I'm going there.

Ever since I was a kid, I have had this fascination with religion(s). My family were not church goers. At least not on any regular basis. I don't just mean my own immediate family-I mean going back to my Grandmother and Grandfather and beyond. They attended occasionally, like Christmas or Easter. We were christened as babies in the Anglican Church. That's about it, though.

My Mom is a very open minded individual, and I respect that more than almost any trait a person can have in their personality. She would take us to different church services, sometimes even for a few months or even a sporadic year at a time. We belonged to a Baptist church for awhile, and of course Anglican. More importantly though, she encouraged my siblings and I to learn as much as we could about various religious beliefs and practices and to be open to the ways of others.

My brother and sister really couldn't care less about Church or going to Church. I would say my brother is Agnostic and my sister holds her own beliefs that don't necessarily fit one "category" or title. That being said, they "do their own thing."

I, however, was the kid that went to Church by myself (well, with friends families) week after week. I was in the choir, I attended "Cadets For Jesus", I went to Bible Camp. I liked the social aspect, to be sure. I'm an extrovert and this was another way to spend time with others. I also enjoyed the singing and rejoicing. The Baptist and Evangelist churches I attended were both great for that!!! Yet, there was something in me that also liked the lessons learned (I'm a big rule follower and it appealed to me) and the values taught in Sunday School. It felt good to have someone bigger and stronger than myself to lean on when my life ravelled widely out of my control.

In light of my Mom's exposing us to as much culturally and theologically as she could, I also attended Jewish, Hindu, Spiritualist, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelist and Anglican services. I loved the ceremony involved in each faith and found the similarities between them all comforting. It's why today, I'm very open to all religious practices and beliefs. The way I look at it is, who am "I" to say one practice is more "right" than another? I'm not qualified to do that. As long as people believe in something, and practice being good people-I don't care what name you call your God.

Somewhere in highschool, I stopped attending any type of Church services, except for holidays. I'm amazed now that I went as long as I did when it was just me, a sole person in a family, and a child at that.

In University, the draw pulled me in again and I studied "Death and Afterlife" and the "Life and Times of Jesus." I considered doing a minor in religious studies, but wasn't sure where or what I would do with that.

Then came marriage and children and jobs and fatigue. My husband was raised Roman Catholic and wasn't interested in anything to do with it, anymore. We both agreed before we had children, though, that we wanted them to have an open heart as well as a background of faith. We just weren't sure which "Church" would meet our joint beliefs and needs.

After many years, we found our ideal Church. It was an open and welcoming place. It's core beliefs embraced different ideologies and allowed people to come to faith from their own paths. We attended with our children and were so happy to finally have found our "home." And then we moved.

It took us so much time to finally be at peace with a Church that we had struggled to find, that we hadn't even started the search again in our new town. I have always believed that one didn't have to attend an institution to have a strong faith. In fact, I view my own relationship as being very personal. My Mom jokes that people don't need a minister/pastor/priest when they can just "talk direct." I believe that to be true. I've always had that relationship but wanted my children to also have the sense of community and fellowship that I craved as a kid, in a Church setting.

I'm also a very private person though in a lot of ways. I don't readily share my life or my feelings with others. I think many people think they know me, or things in my life, but really it's only what I allow them to know. Know what I mean? LOL When things get tough, I generally search ways within myself to find strength and answers. That leads me back to strength from my personal beliefs.

I've been searching, I'd say, most of my life. For what, I wasn't sure. In this latest trying time-I've reclaimed what was lost. I find myself more at peace and more confident than ever. My faith is stronger than it ever has been. I've also made some major changes in the way I speak, think and act. I'm more present and aware in my interactions out in the world than I've probably ever been. I'm a work in progress, majorly imperfect, but working at it.

We're still hoping to find a Church, here, that suits our family. It's hard when we had already found everything we were looking for in that way. In our home though, everything is open and dialogued and discussed regularly. We focus on creating and strengthening personal relationships in faith for our children, while still encouraging them to seek their own truth. We provide books on "Faiths around the World" and on different cultural beliefs and lifestyles. We expose them to what we can. I hope their journey is their own-whichever way that takes them.

I feel by writing this today, that in a way, I'm coming out of the closet. It's just another step on my journey and I'm embracing it. I hope you all can too.

No comments:

Post a Comment