Thursday, July 9, 2009

Finding a Spiritual Home to Raise Baby

Teresha: I have struggled with the concept of religion and church since I was young. I was the type of child that asked questions...lots of questions. My curiosity often drove my family and teachers crazy because they frequently did not have a good answer to my inquiries. This was especially true when it came to religion. Most of my mother's family are Seventh Day Adventists, and me and my siblings would attend an SDA church with our grandmother when we visited for summers. What I remember most is that we weren't permitted to watch television from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday and going to church on Saturday for hours on end while other kids watched cartoons and played in the streets. Why? My mother was a Jehovah's Witness for a few years when we were very little. I recall suddenly not being allowed to celebrate birthdays or holidays anymore and having to give up certain toys that were deemed devilish by the elders. Why? Life in the Kingdom Hall was particularly hard for a six-year-old who was already dealing with her parents' divorce. So my first memories of religion was that it equated to a lot of rules, rigid regimens, and restrictions. By the time I entered high school, I had enough of "church." Friends would invite me to their place of worship in hopes that they could save my soul from certain damnation. I would go, but always left feeling unsatisfied. I began seeking out spirituality in other forms and wrote my senior paper on Transcendentalism. My English teacher gave me a copy of The Celestine Prophecy and my suspicions of organized religion was intensified. In college I decided to give church another try when I started dating my future husband who was raised Catholic. We started attending service at a Methodist church where I first learned about grace and free will. I liked these tenets. We married in a Methodist church and were members for many years. Then my foundation was shattered over a dispute between the outgoing pastor and the church board over leasing the annex to a gay youth organization. When we moved to Dallas last summer we visited several churches, but I need more than scripture readings and singing hymns on a Sunday morning. I want open dialogue and community engagement. I also want to raise our daughter (and any future siblings) in a spiritual home, but I don't want our child(ren) growing up resenting religion like I did. I had almost given up when we were referred to a small, non-demonitional church that met at the recreation center in our neighborhood. Church in the Cliff is casual, welcoming, progressive, and interactive. On the Sunday we visited, the message and discussion was about body prayer. We actually practiced yoga-inspired prayer! Yesterday we attended Wednesday dinner at member's home where we fellowshiped over Ethiopian peasant food and talked about fasting using Jesus' 40-day lent in the desert after he was baptized as a central theme. When the time came to go home, I was making mental notes for Sunday's service. Damon and I talked all the way home about the topic. Isn't that how "church" should inspire its congregants? I have a good feeling that we are home.

8 comments:

Execumama said...

Glad to hear that, honey! I was also raised SDA, and as I child, it was not only boring (which is probably normal for my age at the time), but I also asked lots of questions about why's and why-not's. It has always been discouraging to me to get responses like "because God said so" or "that's just the way it is". I'm a ponder-it type of gal, so that never quite satiated my thirst for information. My husband was raised Catholic also, and we've decided to raise our children with the principles of God, spirituality, and an open mind to religion. Therefore, we choose not to take them only to oen particular type of church (i.e. baptist, anglican, etc.), but instead to show them the variety of ways in which God is praised. We also promote introspective prayer/meditation/yoga/chanting, which probably sounds weird since Marley and Sage are 3 and 5...LOL! But so far, it's been wonderful. They know God, and know that ALL the things for which they are thankful flow only from Him. That's all we want. We think they should explore spirituality and religion further when they are ready, and God will reach them however He sees fit :) I'm so glad you and hubs have found a home for Baby girl and her future siblings :)

Maureen said...

I'm glad you found a church that works for you. We've had so many issues finding a spiritual home. I was raised Catholic (I also spent some time at my maternal grandparents Southern Baptist church - my grandfather, the all around bigot, would ask me, "Are you still Catholic?" whenever I visited) and was practicing when I met my husband, who is Jewish, but non-practicing. When my son was born, the plan was to raise him Catholic. The problem was we had moved away from the two churches that I had attended most of my life (my childhood and university church). The churches where we moved just did not work for me. I finally stopped attending church. I tried converting to Judaism, because my husband would have attended services then, but I got into a big argument with the rabbi over guns. I'm still spitting mad about that one... Since then, we've tried several religious options, but the kids hate any type of church and we haven't found one that feels right anyway...My husband is agnostic, but I'm not. Sometimes, I feel really lost without some form of religion in my life...

Robbie S. Redmon, LPC said...

My personal relationship with Jesus is what has gotten me through the tough time. I am happy to hear you are feeling at home where you are. Hey, I'm glad you are back. I missed you. Thanks for leaving the comment. I'm going to visit the baby's room now.

MAK-now said...

It seems like you've found a comfortable fit. I'd pray that it works out for you, but I'll cross my fingers just in case. :)

Good luck !!!

Ginger said...

I LOVED reading this post. First of all, I'm with you on being suspicious of organized religion.I grew up Southern Baptist, a religion that is not as strict as some, but that uses fear as a teaching tool. In college I, too, felt relieved by the idea of grace and mercy in the Methodist church, but then moved to the DFW metroplex and couldn't find a place that felt like home to me. Now I have Baby Jack who is one. I vowed to raise him with some sort of religious structure, but not one that demonized life.

You and I are traveling on very similar paths..

It gives me hope to know that you have found your place! Thank you so much for for sharing.

-SITSta Ginger :)

Tooj said...

That certainly sounds like the type of experience you should WANT in a religious addition to your life. I hope that it continues to be something you find satisfying and educational and most of all peaceful. :) Enjoy.

Amy @ Six Flower Mom said...

Religion is a journey and I enjoyed reading about your travels. I am also glad that you are finding your way!

Fishbowl said...

Hi, came over after you posted on mine which you saw on SITS....phew! What a great 2 posts, this one and about body image and your gorgeous photos. I too have struggled with religion though only recently, since I was brought up atheist. One of these days I will do a religion blog....but I'm still a little shy since it's so personal. Anyway, thx for saying hi, and p.s. I love stealing blog ideas, but always feel so guilty! Is it acceptable???