I first wrote publicly about my evolving faith about five months ago, and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. Not in an I’m reconsidering or having new doubts sort of way, but more in an I’m realizing just how pervasive religion is in my world sort of way.
You can click on the link above to read part 1, but here’s the TL;DR version: I used to identify as a Christian but don’t anymore and neither do my kids.
In the short amount of time that has passed since I admitted this to myself, I’ve learned something that perhaps shouldn’t have been too terribly surprising:
Being agnostic in a religiously minded culture is truly mind-boggling.
It has been very enlightening to take on this new role of “outsider” and see how prevalent the dominant thinking really is. Details I’ve never paid much attention suddenly seem magnified.
Most people in my life assume I am Christian By Default. They assume that because they once knew me as someone who identified as Christian, nothing could have possibly shaken that. They assume I feel the same way now as I did ten years ago. Or five years ago. Or one year ago. Or yesterday.
And I can kind of understand that. I mean, if I had to completely re-evaluate everything I thought about every person I know every time I ran into them it would get pretty old. Sometimes making assumptions of what we think we know about a person just makes sense and saves time.
However, even after I clarify for someone, the response from my Christian acquaintances is still often disbelief and condescension. Clearly there must be some dearth of knowledge or understanding on my part, and if only you knew more you’d agree with me.
But there is nothing deficient about my faith as I currently define it. It just is. I don’t need to be converted. I’ve been there. I’ve read all the same passages, attended all the same services, heard all the same promises. I just processed it differently.
I still enjoy the comfort and support of a “church” community. The Agents and I (and Hubby) now attend Unitarian Universalist services each week. It’s a very progressive, social justice oriented congregation. The kids absolutely love their religious education classes and adore their teachers. We’ve only been there a few months, but it feels homey and safe. Everyone there is in a different spiritual place, and that idea is treasured.
That is what I want for my kids. I want their spiritual path—wherever it may lead—to be treasured, even if it doesn’t look like the majority. I want them to feel comfortable with their own convictions, something I was most definitely not at their age. Because inevitably someone is going to come along and try to tell them that their spiritual place is wrong, incomplete.
True story: Last summer at a family picnic, a relative I’m not even sure my kids had ever met came up to them and the first words out of his mouth—before he so much as knew any of their names—were to ask them if they knew Jesus. As in, he knew they were our kids, made the usual assumptions about our religious beliefs, and felt totally justified in evangelizing them right there next to the potato salad.
I don’t want to have to live that same scenario over and over and over again.
I want to help my children navigate the predominantly religious-leaning world they live in. I want them to know it’s okay to say no, thank you, I don’t want to have this conversation when a certain extended family member attempts to Jesus them up. I want to give them a voice.