December 15, 2011 · 13 comments

I have trouble articulating my thoughts and feelings on religion.  My mom, however, does not. For a long time, after we had a nice long talk, she promised to leave me alone about my boys and our choices about religion. Apparently, the Christmas season has caused that verbal contract to become null and void.

Here’s what I can tell you to be absolutely true, 100%, at this moment in my life. 

  • I was raised, baptized, confirmed, etc. as a Lutheran.  I have no bad feelings about the churches I attended or the things I was taught. I was married in the same church I was baptized in. My children have been baptized Lutheran.
  • I was raised by my mother to question, to think, to be independent. Along the way, she failed to mention that she didn’t mean about religion once I had kids. Oops. Too late.
  • MY God and I have a perfectly fine relationship. He provides an ear, reminds me to trust my gut and instincts, gives me the confidence to do what I need to do. He understands that I feel closer to him in nature and that I don’t need a building, a collection plate or a weekly sermon to believe.
  • I don’t have absolute or blind faith.  I question. What about dinosaurs? What about other science? Why is it wrong to realize that the bible was a bunch of words chipped out of stone or whatever and that there may have been some liberties taken when it was translated a thousand times? Yes, I do think that maybe Steve the translator could have changed some words around – who would know?!
  • I don’t pray for cures – God didn’t give me cancer, but he put people in my life that could help me. He allowed to me to trust and heal.
  • I don’t pray for him to take away tornados or volcanos and whatnot – that’s nature, not God.
  • I don’t think that God takes people to “a better place”; that the death of loved ones are part of a plan or that he needs them with him. Death is part of life. It always sucks, and sometimes more than others, but without getting too deep into it, please don’t ever tell me someone I’ve lost is “in a better place”. That’s bullshit.
  • That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in Heaven – I do. I think heaven is where everything is perfect and wonderful and everyone you love is there and it’s beautiful. I imagine my grandparents hang out together, my grandma steals sugar packets and still chews Wrigley gum. But to say someone is better off being there than alive with me? Don’t think so.
  • I understand the “true meaning of Christmas” as the Bible tells it and how I was taught. I also understand the true meaning of the season is to be charitable, kind and loving; patient, friendly and giving.

I haven’t been to church in a long time. My lack of attendance doesn’t MEAN anything except that the God I believe in understands sleeping in and family time on Sunday mornings.

My kids know the story of Christmas, the know the birth of baby Jesus, they know about Easter and Creationism.  They also know about dinosaurs and the big bang theory (uh, the theory, not the show…although, they would probably like the show a lot, too).

All of this is to say that yes, I was given a religious base in my life.  Yes, I talk to my God, and throw up a prayer here and there for others. I believe in a higher power for guidance.  I also believe in Fate, Karma and Luck. I believe in Santa Claus and the goodness of people.

I believe that if I raise my children to be generous, kind, loving, charitable, funny, compassionate, honest and live their lives with integrity, that I am doing my job as their mother.  

My mom, sadly, does not.  She thinks that I am not doing my job well enough because they know religious songs from Charlie Brown Christmas and don’t know the words to Away in a Manger.  That it’s sad that they aren’t in a Christmas program at church this weekend.  I appreciate her opinion, and I have offered to let her take the boys to church whenever she wants.  She always declines – which means it’s more important for her to badger me about it than for her grandsons to get the religious education she thinks they need, right?

For the record, I don’t hide God or religion from the boys. We’re very open about it and we talk about church – they don’t want to go.  Now, of course, it’s easy to say “of course they don’t want to!” because you’re maybe thinking that we discourage it – but we don’t. I’m very open about it. The boys have heard all about church – not just from my mom, but from me. Yes, I’ve shared my experiences – and I never once talked bad about it. They don’t want to go in the same way that Matt doesn’t want to sing in the children’s choir or Preston doesn’t want to play soccer: they just don’t want to.

And if (or when) they ever show interest, I am happy to take them. (ok, I’d be annoyed about getting up on Sunday morning, but I would totally hide that fact).

I have the utmost respect for people that are religious – as long as they don’t shove their particular brand down my throat.  I love learning about the religions of my friends – Mormon, Jewish, Catholic – I find them all very intellectually interesting.  I love that they have their faith and beliefs and would never begrudge ANYONE their faith.

So why is it so hard for my mom to respect MINE?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

PrincessJenn December 16, 2011 at 12:03 am

If you ever figure out the answer to that question, please let me know.

I always tell people that, while I believe in a higher being, I don’t believe in organized religion. As someone who was raised Catholic, I saw way too much politicking going on and not enough true spiritual growth in the churches we attended.


Dawn December 19, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Exactly! Higher power does not automatically mean organized religion! Thank you. 🙂


annettek December 16, 2011 at 10:00 am

This. If you took out the word Lutheran and put in Catholic I could have written it. Except my mother would find out about it and kill me. Heh. It’s hard to be judged, I know. xo


Dawn December 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm

hehe. I won’t tell! Thanks for the support. 🙂


Jill Dettman December 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Like annettek, if you changed the word Lutheran and substituted Catholic, this would be my story. I’m desperately trying to teach my son the virtues of goodness, kindness, thoughtfulness, respect, and an understanding that all people are entitled to their thoughts and beliefs, even if they don’t match with yours – simply because as human beings, we owe it to one another to be decent citizens. Not because eternity in hell is imminent if we don’t, I’m not your mom, but I happen to think you’re doing it just right. Sometimes, we make different choices than our parents. When they resist that, I think it’s because they aren’t entirely sure they did right by us and that it’s more about them than it is about us.


Dawn December 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Thanks, Jill! I’m starting to think this is a generational thing. So many people my age feel the same way we do!


Shine December 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

You are a good mom. I KNOW this. Your kids are getting such a wonderfully well rounded perspective on life and will be so much more prepared for life than we were. I don’t think blind faith in anyone or anything is good for anyone. Your mom is unfortunately pushing her holiday (and life) ideals on you. You’ve created plenty of moments and traditions for them to learn the difference between right and wrong and how to be good citizens and why. Her way is not your way, nor should it be. Frustrating I know, but enjoy what you can and maybe one day she’ll understand or get over it. In the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing. You’re beautiful, kind, smart, insightful, giving, thoughtful, funny, genuine and true to yourself…don’t change a thing.


Dawn December 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Thanks, Shine. You rock. 🙂


theavasmommy December 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Let me start out by saying that I could have written this, almost word for word. I had a similar upbringing, but I’ve not been in a church for over a decade. I have no use for organized religion in my life. I believe in a higher power, but I also believe in free will and that we make choices that guide our own lives.

Some people are simply unable to ever see their offspring as anything more than the children they raised. They see babies, and kids playing and being silly, and not the adults they’ve become.

You’re doing a great job with your boys. You have to continue doing what you think is right. That’s all that matters.


Dawn December 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Thank you. Truly. I appreciate knowing I am not alone in my feelings on this!


Clara December 19, 2011 at 11:08 pm

You have taken the words out of my mouth and written them beautifully!


Chrisor (ynotkissme) January 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I happen to think this is one of the best posts on religion I’ve ever read! Probably because I agree with all of it! It makes me want to write my own post on religion but it would pretty much say the same thing only worded differently. I don’t have children but would feel the same as you if I did. I always feel like I am alone in how I feel about things so it’s nice to see someone else who feels the same.


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