Thursday, September 24, 2009

For Heaven's Sake

I didn't grow up in a church going family. This never bothered me, and I don't regret it now that I'm an adult "of faith" who goes to church either. I have friends who grew up in a faith tradition, and they have grown into adults with a strong faith. And that is wonderful. But I also know folks who spent their young adulthood doing things like (and this is a true story)taking turns with their friends going to church and finding out what the Homily was about so the other friends could lie to their folks and skip church.

I don't believe that this kind of behavior happens because there is anything inherently wrong with any faith, or the way these parents are trying their best to raise their children up in faith - both are blessings in peoples' lives.And I don't think this is a rampant happening. Most families pass down their faith in such a way as to help their children come to their own understanding of God and other things of a spiritual nature. They have a true grounding, and love of God, and so their children LIKE church and want to go because it is important to them, just as it was to their parents. But I prefer the way I came upon my faith, to a faith that isn't truly deep within me, because it was foisted upon me by well-meaning parents.

To contrast that first experience: A dear friend was recounting her daughter's experience on the bus one day. Another kid was making fun of her, and being really mean. She was on her own that day, because her sister didn't ride with her like she usually did. As her mom spoke to her about her experience and she was telling Momma how it felt, she said (paraphrasing)"It was really hard. But I thought about Jesus, and it made me feel better." I think its safe to say this parent was ecstatic about this. I even got a lump in my throat. If this is the kind of feeling and knowledge of God's love for them that my children carry around with them as a result of our spiritual teachings and their church experiences, it will be my proudest accomplishment as a Mommy.

I believe that God exposes Herself to us in a variety of ways. That's why we have so many different religions. But God is *everywhere*, "always speaking" to us (as the UCC church tells us). He uses all sorts of experiences to bring us to Him. So I am perfectly happy that I came to my faith through conversations with my mom about her upbringing and beliefs, my Dad's love of Amazing Grace and their love-your-neighbor way of being, some experiences in college, Amy Grant's music, my dear friend Dawn who I met right after college, my Quaker friend Jessie, and Lawrence - my dear friend, poetry mentor and spiritual inspiration. The Watertown and Arlington Street churches of the UU church, and our lovely UCC church here in town where Evan and Amelie were both baptized me, have fed me and helped me along my spiritual journey. And the amazing Hope Church that is both UCC and DOC, where we're are currently raising our children in the light of God.

So I came to my faith in a different way from my parents, and my children will come to their faith in ways that are different from their parents. But I've landed in a place in life where I am able to bring my children up in a strong faith community. And while I don't feel I missed out by not having that...I am blessed to be able to provide this for my children. God has, and continues to bless me beyond my imagination. (It's all God's Angels, watching over me ;-).

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