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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Losing My Religion


Let me preface this post with the following: I do not believe in Hell or in the need to "please" God, so those are not options for me to pursue in my latest dilemma. I also don't think I really need any ideas, just looking for a place to put down my thoughts.


I used to like going to church. Looking at the gorgeous stained glass, smelling the burning candles, shaking the hands of my neighbors. I liked it back when I was a Catholic, and I still like it now that I'm not. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is visit old, really old, churches and walk past their hushed cement walls and think about the people who built them. Even though my feelings about God and organized religion have changed drastically over the years, I still find churches to be pretty amazing places.

When I started going to my new church, I was hooked pretty fast. The minister was dynamic and a real people person. Within a few months of attending, my kids and I felt like we were part of the congregation (I'll leave Fairly Odd Father out of this since his feelings about organized religion are even more skeptical than mine).

I started teaching and volunteering when asked. My girls sang in the choir and acted in the annual play. It all felt really, really good.

But, then they stopped wanting to go. They didn't want to sing anymore, didn't want to be in the play. When I'd finally convince them to come, they'd sort of hold back and not be interested in staying afterward for coffee hour. Even today, when asked if anyone would come to church with me, the answer from these children who can barely stand to be out of my sight is an emphatic "NO!".

I suspect some of their new-found reluctance comes from the fact that there are some very strong-knit friendships between most of the kids their age, and my kids are not part of that group. I've tried to break into the group by setting up play dates but have had little success. It doesn't take much for me to back down, though, so even one dismissive, "I'm sorry, we're too busy" comment will keep me away for months.

They, and I, may also be unknowingly reacting to the loss of the church's beloved (actually Beloved, with a capital "B"), Religious Education director who had to leave when budgets were cut. I underestimated how huge of a blow this would be to morale when she left.

Plus, our new minster isn't the old, super-extroverted one. She's super smart, well-spoken and seemed a perfect match when presented to the congregation a year ago. She may still be for many people. I honestly have not given her enough of a chance to know for sure. Let me just say that I don't adjust to change easily.

And, here it is 10:28am on a Sunday and it is pretty obvious, as I sit here in my PJ's, that I will not make 10:30 service. I will not look at the stained glass, smell the candles and shake the hands of my neighbors. Instead I will attempt to carve out a few moments to think about the place of religion in my life and whether or not it has a future with my family or I.

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9 Comments:

Blogger The Mom said...

I've been in the same place with regards to religion. Having grown up with a minister father, it seemed like I should be going. At first the kids loved it. When they started to say no, I found that it didn't mean enough to me to push the subject. Now I'm back to just not knowing how I feel about the whole thing.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

I expected that having children would rejuvenate my faith, lead me to be more involved. Maybe even re-convert me. If anything, it's had the opposite effect, which surprised me. I want to believe, I love the history and the ritual, but these things can't be forced.

I've decided that God understands. Right now that works for me.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Katybeth said...

My family struggles with religion all the time so we have just decided to be the best people we can and sleep in on Sunday mornings--some of think God would rather be sleeping in as well--but perhaps suggesting that is heresy!
Enjoyed your post!

6:22 PM  
Blogger Mamalang said...

I really could have written this. Except my kids are entrenched in the "Extras" of the church. They play handbells, are in youth group, etc. This is the only church the youngest two have known.

But the pastor just doesn't do it for me. She's older, and it's not nice of me, but I'm hoping she decides to retire soon.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Mom, M.Ed. (Jessica) said...

Ah, we have some issues with church here, too. Neither Michael nor I were ever hardcore church goers growing up--but, last spring we decided perhaps we should try to get ourselves back into some sort of organized religion again. I was raised Lutheran but after doing some research, we agreed the Methodist church looked interesting.

We attended. It wasn't so bad. We attended again. And again. Then, one day someone walked up to Michael, shook his hand and said, "Are you new?" When Michael explained we were new to the church but had missed a few Sundays, he replied dryly, "Oh. So, you are Sometimers."

No more church for us! ;)

10:06 PM  
Blogger Subspace Beacon said...

We have so much in common!

I grew up Catholic, and attended Catholic school for 12 years. My mother still attends mass, though her religious devotion is so reflexive and superficial it enters the realm of superstition. My husband's family is v. involved in the Anglican church.

I can say with a great deal of confidence that I just don't click with organized religion. My moments of spiritual awe and peace do not come in a church. We haven't pressed the issue with the kids -- but have confirmed that being non-churchgoers will not affect their illegibility for Christmas gifts.

The "I'm sorry, we're too busy" response to a playdate request -- cuts me to the core. Takes me back to my years of dating. Largely w/o success.

(My mom is visiting so I'm on computer hiatus, but I couldn't resist this post!)

1:49 AM  
Blogger cbrigante said...

Hi there, I atend this church and my children grew up here too. And we don't live in town. I think some of the good part of Unity for them, was that they belonged to a group which was different from school and a group which welcomed and respected them for who they are. The younger kids may not be as welcoming yet, but try not to give up on us yet. We have some more thought provoking lessons ahead for the children. We are in the process of hiring a new director of religious education.
You missed a very moving inspirational service yesterday as our graduating seniors shared their feelings about their journey here and where they hope to be in the future. -cb

9:33 AM  
Blogger Melani said...

I go to a Lutheran church and am surprised that people say those things when you ask for a playdate! Or as Mom.Ed.Jessica's comment, Oh Your sometimers! floored me! I go to church when I can, not every Sunday, but I do pray daily and say prayers with my kids! What's wrong with people these days??? are they not human!?

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Auds at Barking Mad said...

"One of my favorite things to do when traveling is visit old, really old, churches and walk past their hushed cement walls and think about the people who built them. Even though my feelings about God and organized religion have changed drastically over the years, I still find churches to be pretty amazing places."

That above, was one of my favourite things about living in Europe. The antiquity of the churches and cathedrals is awe inspiring. It's amazing to me that some of those buildings were constructed more than 500 years ago and are still standing. You just don't see that kind of craftsmanship or art anymore.

The above sentence is similar to my own battle with religion right now. I just don't have the foundation for it that I used to. My walls are weak and flimsy and threatening to collapse at any given moment and my foundation is crumbling around the edges.

Despite all of that, every night the Little Imp is still tucked in with a prayer. I just don't know exactly who it is we're praying to any longer.

1:23 PM  

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