Faith, where does it come from? Are you born with it? Do you learn it? These are some of the thoughts that I'm reflecting on today. My husband and I are struggling financially - hence my decision to go back to work full-time. It has been a long uphill battle for a couple of years now and if you sit down and look at it on paper it is really scary. But, somehow you have to be able to take the information in and use it. Assimilate it. Dissect it. And have the faith that you can change it.
I grew up not going to church on any regular basis. My parents decided not to join a church or have church be a part of our lives. My father, ironically, had gone to college with the idea of becoming a minister. But, he became disillusioned over the abstract aspects of Christianity. My mother was the child of rebels. My grandparents came from a very small, still tiny, town in South Georgia. My grandfather's father was a Southern Baptist preacher. My grandmother's father was the town doctor. You know where I am going with this... of course, they rebelled. And in a big way. They moved to New York City in the 30's, lived in a 4th floor walk-up and took on the life of artists in Greenwich Village. They had great stories of 10 friends sharing 1 bottle of wine and a big spaghetti dinner every Friday night during the depression. Their friends would sing, perform, display their art and read aloud from their novels-in-progress.
So, all this led to me growing up with an incredible ignorance of Christianity, just from lack of exposure and also a prejudice born from previous generations. My interpretation of Being a Christian meant being a right wing, bible pounding, literal translation in your face kind of person. (You may have noticed that I tend to lean a bit to the other side...) So, I rejected going to church, too. Yet, I always felt that something was missing. Especially when I was going through difficult times and needed something else. Something larger than myself. Something to lean on.
Over the years, in my 20's and 30's I explored different churches, searching for .... that elusive faith that I felt I lacked. After E and I had children, it became even clearer to me that I wanted to find a church that gives me strength and hope. That inspires me. That leads me to believe in the good and that there is a place truly open to everyone. Black, white, gay, straight, old, young, poor - just open. We were lucky enough to find a church, and it is one of the main things that anchors my life. I feel centered when I go, which is often. Yet, I never feel obligated and I cry almost every week because I feel so lucky to have found a place where "whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith, there is a place here for you." Best of all, it is true. They walk the walk. And I am in wonder that I actually go to church! I feel so blessed that my children will have a place of strength that they can draw from as they mature, that is in addition to us. My greatest wish is that E and I will have a relationship with our children that is one in which they can come to us, with anything. But, I also know from some of the troubling times I went through as a teenager and young adult sometimes you need more than your parents or your friends.
It is not like me to wax on and on about my Christianity or my faith. I tend to be a very private person about this issue. But, recently someone came over to my blog and made some hurtful, hateful comments about people who are gay. And I find that unacceptable. I have found myself biting my tongue and letting myself believe that it is best to just let it go. Yet, I can't. Because that feels wrong to me. And so today, I find myself posting about something that I didn't intend to write about. And my inspiration has been Deb at Tired Mummy. She made me weep.
So, what does this all come down to for me? It is a question of faith. Having faith that we will come through challenging financial times and come out on the other side. Having faith that my children, who are lucky enough to go to school with children who come from diverse homes with amazing single parents, homes with 2 mommies or two daddies, and homes that have a mom and a dad- will grow up to be good, loving people who have faith. BOY & GIRL are being exposed to different versions of "family" and I am proud that we can give them that. It is a small step, but a step to what I believe is a better world of possibility for all. I have faith that it will be a different place when they are my age and that there will be less anonymous posters of hate, but more of joy and love. Is the world that perfect that we have room for more prejudice, more injustice, more segregation, more vitrioled expression?
It feels good to have faith. Even on the worst days. Sometimes, I need to be reminded of it. And today Deb reminded me. And something she said in the comments section to her post was brilliant: "It's a fine line though, being intolerant of intolerance." It's a fine line though, being intolerant of intolerance. As we fight against injustice, we must be cautious of our anger carrying us into territory of our own intolerance. And I leave you with that.