Monday, November 16, 2009

Thoughts on Religion

Yep - I'm going there.  I want to talk to everyone about religion, or being spiritual, whatever yours may be, or the lack thereof for some people. Maybe if we were more comfortable talking about these things, we'd all understand eachother just a little better. We don't have to believe what others do, but it might be nice to understand why they believe it.

I grew up going to church every Sunday.  My mom is fairly religious (whatever that means is really a personal definition), so it was important that we grew up in a similar home.  I went to a private, Catholic school for middle and high school, and a Jesuit Catholic college.  With all of that, you can certainly say I was exposed to religion.
Then I met Ian.  He is someone who didn't grow up with any religion.  He isn't against religion, but isn't sure what he believes.  I couldn't understand it when we first met.  But we talk a lot about religion, and I understand now that not having grown up in a believing household would probably influence my beliefs as well.  And to be honest, with so many different opinions on higher power(s), different religions, different beliefs, I don't blame him for being confused.  I grew up in one religion my entire life, and even I sometimes don't even know.  I think also, certain things may happen in people's lives to make them turn to, or away from believing in anything bigger than them.  For me, I've had some terrible tragedies occur that have made me believe.  And I've also been stressed to no end, when suddenly something or someone comes into my life that changes everything, and it leaves me believing that it was meant to be, that there is reason to it. 

But here's where we are on the same page.  For me, the church was a place I could always turn to.  It reminds me on a daily basis that I am fortunate.  It reminds me to help others, be open-minded, and value the people around me.  It reminds me that family is the most important thing.  Going to church, I don't feel judged.  People can look however they do, with no judgment.  I've been on retreats, and met some of the most kind people I've met in my life.  And for me, I'm naturally an anxious person.  So my belief that there is a higher power, something greater than little measly me, that maybe I do not have control of everything, helps calm me.  It doesn't all rest on my shoulders.  My religion, has taught me incredible values.

Do I think you have to be a part of a formed religion to have these values? No. Absolutely not.  Do I think a weekly reminder at church encourages kids to be kinder, and teaches them important values, yes.  Does it work for every person? No.  Do I think it inspires kids and adults to think of others a little more often? Yes. 

For me, religion is what you make of it.  You can go to church everyday and still be a crappy person in my book.  It really is what you make of it.  If you use it to inspire you and remind you to think of others, then why not go for it?

I also know that people not into the whole God (or whatever you call your higher power) thing have fairly strong opinions about the situation.  Some may think that religious people judge.  But I think that depends on the person.  For me, it taught me to NOT judge, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to say I'm sorry, to forgive, to be understanding and compassionate.  They may think it's weird, or that religious people think they're better than others, more right than others.  Again, it depends on the person.  I can do the best I absolutely can in a situation, thinking it's the right thing to do, and be completely wrong.  So who the hell am I to judge someone else's decisions.  I can certainly think for myself, but thinking something isn't knowing it - it's purely a belief. 
My hope in discussing this is to get people to be more open-minded.  I have to commend my dear hubby on this.  He goes with me to church every single time, supported my wish to get married in the Catholic church, and is totally onboard with raising our children as Catholics.  He asks questions and tries to understand.  When something major is going on in our lives, and I turn to prayer or reflection to center myself, he will sometimes join me.  He may not believe all of it, but he at least supports me on it, and is interested in learning more.  And I couldn't ask from more form him.

Overall, for me, religion/being spiritual helps me regain balance in my life, and I can hardly think anyone would say that's a bad thing.

What are your thoughts on all of this? 


  1. I think its great that Ian supports you. I grew up in a non-church/religious household. My parents have their individual beliefs and my dad was raised going to church but they never pushed me. Sometimes I feel a little lost on the whole matter.

    I think, for me, I've been put off more by people who try to force their values on me and perhaps even used some very judgemental statements towards me (we can chat about this offline sometime).

    However, I know plenty of people (you included) that are strong believers that don't make me feel like a bad person for not affiliating with a religion.

  2. I wish people would be more open minded about religion as well. I am similar to Ian, where I did not grow up going to church every weekend, but I did have some basic knowledge of the Lutheran religion and I went to church camp as a kid. Now, I'm more of a "spiritual but not religious" person. You absolutely can raise children with good moral character and values without religion. It always amazes me when people think you can't.

  3. Kim - I am so sorry you've had that experience. I know that I've had people say crappy things to me - but I think ultimately that doesn't have to do with the religion, but with the person. I hold those individuals responsible. And I will fully support our kids if they decide religion isn't for them once they're adults, or choose a different religion - I just want them to be exposed to it so they can have that experience.

    Carrie - I totally wish people would be more open minded - but I think it goes for non-religious people as well as religious people. I think you can raise children with great values without religious - but I think a lot of strong values started somewhere in a religion. I also think raising kids in any religion encourages them to think outside of their little lives, which is a great thing (in my opinion at least!)

    Thanks for the comments ladies!


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