I went to church recently. That's not really my thing. I grew up going to Catholic schools, regularly attending church on Sunday, and even getting into theological debates with my Lutheran friends. And now? Religion makes me cringe. There, I said it. I have big issues with organized religion (and yet I have plenty of friends who embrace Jesus and we're still able to be friends - I'm not going to shut you out of my life because we have different beliefs).
Doubt entered my mind early. I was in junior high preparing for Confirmation. We had to fill out a questionnaire, volunteer, go to classes in the evening with a sponsor, and meet with the campus minister. It was the campus minister that really sealed the deal with me. I had been brought up with the teachings that there was a heaven, a hell, and purgatory. I had also been told that if you ask for forgiveness God will grant it. The campus minister asked me how many people end up in heaven and in my naive and overly optimistic mind I thought most people would. However, the campus minister gave me an actual statistic (how would he know?) of all the people who end up in purgatory... and that's when I thought "this is all bullshit".
On the way to one of the nightly classes with my parents I told them that I wasn't sure I really bought into everything I was being told about religion. I'd already endured years of the guilt and shame Catholicism likes to dole out so the conversation with the campus minister wasn't my first moment of doubt, but it was really the moment that I knew I no longer believed. My dad gave me some of the best advice that night saying "as long as you believe in something". And I do believe in something. It might not be organized religion, but there are certainly some overlapping ideas as I think of it as more of a philosophy of life - how do I behave and how do I treat others and myself.
Luckily, my husband is of the same mind set (also grew up Catholic) so we get a long fine in our mutual distaste of most religious things, but now we are parents and have to think about how we want our daughter to be exposed to faith - which by the way, I think of faith and religion as overlapping, but very different. I am more comfortable with faith, although acknowledge that can be abused as well. At any rate, a couple Christmases ago I realized Riley only thought of Christmas in terms of Santa bringing gifts. As much as I didn't want to sit around reading bible stories I also thought it was important for her to know the story behind Jesus' birth and I bought a book that explained it in terms that she could understand. I know we have time to explore religion together as she is only 4, but I do think about how I should best present faith to her.
I want her to be exposed to many religions - obviously it will be hard to not be influenced by Jesse and my thoughts on the whole thing, but I truly want her to be able to make her own decisions when it comes to her faith. It's a very personal thing.
So last weekend we went to church. It was a baptism for my niece - my birth sister's daughter, and it was held at a Lutheran church during Sunday mass. We didn't prepare Riley that much for what to expect so it was sort of fun to see her take it all in. Sure we let her do some coloring while she was sitting there, but she also joined in when there was singing (eve though she didn't know the words), wanted to stand each time the congregation did, and was very intrigued by the actual baptism process. It was one of those moments that we realized that we hadn't exposed her to this environment because we just never go to church.
We probably won't be going back to church anytime soon either as the mass confirmed why I feel all cringy about religion. Matthew 5:30 "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell". Matthew 5:32 "But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery".
Granted it was nice to hear the minister tell the congregation to go cutting off their hands since that won't really solve the issue, but just hearing the story about the divorced woman made me think how it simplified the complexity of relationships and put so much guilt and shame on women. Cringe.
Ha, and this was only going to be a post about my niece's baptism. I'm fairly certain I should be avoiding controversial subjects like this as I know people are passionate when it comes to religious talk. Moving on...
This was a pretty special visit because it was the first time I got to meet two of my nieces, Madison and Rowan (who is already a year old!).
|My little book nerd found books at the church.|
|Little miss Rowan|
|My birth dad's wife, Debbie.|
|My birth dad, Leo, and baby Madison.|
|A grandpa and some of his granddaughters.|
|My birth siblings, Derek and Lindsey... and my birth child, of course.|
|Showing off the dress that Leo and Debbie got her for her birthday.|
|Hugs for auntie before we left.|