Monday, October 29, 2007

It feels good to have faith

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.

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  1. Deb isn't the only one posting brilliantly today! I really enjoyed your post.
    I am a follower of Christ, yet I often hesitate to identify myself as a Christian, not because I am ashamed of Jesus, far far from it, but oftentimes rude, hateful things can be done in his name that I do not want to be identified with and quite frankly, I don't think he does either.
    I also love how you are looking for a community for your kids to lean on as they grow.
    And hey, we are at 3% unemployment here, and the jobs are ripe for the taking! Ever considered a move to Alberta:)? Housing ain't cheap though and we're not near the ocean. But we do have mountains, fresh air, universal health care and no death penalty (should you need to take care of anonymous posters again:))

  2. Your church sounds like a great place to be. I clicked through and found it funny that it took me a fair bit of scrolling before I found the word "Episcopalian." The new trend is for Baptist churches to leave the word "Baptist" out of their name because of all the negative connotations it sometimes carries - I didn't know Episcopalians were doing the same thing!

  3. Your church sounds like a great place. I consider myself a Christian, but also a seeker of more knowledge. They call people like me Gnostic Christians. I study and read alot of history surrounding Christianity and enjoy the journey. It's the Bible and beyond. I'm sorry about the hurtful comment you endured. You seem like a very open minded and hearted person. Hurtful words can slice a big heart. Your faith is your anchor and that is the best feeling.:)


  4. This was a wonderful post. I am one who strongly depends on my faith and on God, to guide me and my family though life. I grew up in the church, strayed away for a while, and then back again. I never lost sight of God. I loved this post and I wish you luck and God's guidance in your journey.

    I liked the pictures from Halloween too - really cute and you all are such a nice looking couple. See ya.

  5. Beautiful post. It's a fine line though, being intolerant of intolerance. Vey well said !

  6. Ladies, I really appreciate all of your comments. After I posted this I thought...well, JCK, you might have been a BIT over the top with linking to your own church, but what the heck! Maybe someone out there who has no idea that Christians can have liberal ideas or believe that women can be priests or that people who are gay can attend church with people who are not - all can exist.

    HappyGeek - thank you. Deb was the inspiration. Thanks to Liv at "madness, madness I say" for letting me know about Deb's post.

    BubandPie - that is very interesting about All Saints' web page and not noticing that it is an Episcopalian church. I wonder if that is a conscious choice? One of the things I love is that the church is one of those gorgeous 19th century buildings with old stone, beautiful stain glass, carved wood, etc - yet preaches modern ideas. It's quite something.

    Poetmom, it sounds like you've had some really interesting studies in Christianity. Thanks so much for the kind words.

    Kellan, it sounds like you've been on a path as well. Thanks for your thoughts. And Ginger's secret...false eyelashes, baby.

    WorksforMom - thank you. That quote is Deb's. I quoted her and yes it is wonderful.

  7. Sounds like a wonderful church and I love the photos of you and your husband.

  8. The name "All Saints" was kind of a give-away, but when I didn't see any immediate evidence of denomination, I thought maybe the name was meant to be a gesture of inclusion (sort of like, "by all we really mean ALL!"). I do know that it can be a conscious decision to downplay denominational ties, the idea being that the modern seeker looking for faith does not necessarily want to buy into a particular denomination.

  9. While I'm not a Christian, I don't think I could get out of bed in the morning without a whole lot of faith. Your church sounds like a wonderul community. Oh, and, unlike the author of that hateful comment, I love me some gay people.

  10. Thanks for posting this rockin' one, girl. You really summed up the way I feel. And though I still live in a small South GA town, there's less need to rebel. I can rebel against hate and intolerance. Yeah. That's it.

  11. All those years of Sunday's in Church, CCD classes and observing Lent help lay the foundation for my Faith. I don't know where I would have turned when the Hurricane hit and our entire town was destroyed and we lost our entire house and everything except what we brought with us, lived in a camper for months on end, then moved into a portable building my husband converted into a home. A 480 sq foot home for five of us!

    Yes, I'm very thankful for that foundation. My Faith in Him got me through those very dark days. My children may not understand it now.. they may complain and tell me I'm too churchy... but in time they will see. They will know where to turn and who to cling to when times get hard. They will know they are never alone.

  12. Thanks for sharing your spiritual journey. What a beautiful post. I feel lucky to have found All-Saints too. Wasn't church awesome on Sunday? I loved the music. Sending love...

  13. When we were seriously considering moving back to MN last winter, David and I had many conversations about moving our family away from All Saints. Thankfully, we stayed in the area and can still call that place our home. I haven't been to church in a while for various reasons and reading this eloquent post is inspiring to get there this weekend.

    I couldn't agree with you more about loving familes of all shapes, colors and sizes, and accepting one anothers' differences as we walk together in life and bring our children out into the world. Bravo, beautiful JCK!

    Let's get together soon!


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