Caution: This is a long one
I am aware that this post may cause a ruckus, although, my opinionated nature has never been a real secret. I think what's essential for each of us is to believe in whatever the hell we want, and to mind our own damn business on the topic of religion. I feel more uncomfortable when people ask about religion than I do when they ask about having a husband.
I've always been in awe of people that believe in a God of some sort and/or spirituality. Some days it might be nice to have a backup plan, but (unfortunately) I don’t work that way. I do find religion fascinating.
I've never really struggled with my faith. In all my ups and downs in life, I am satisfied with knowing that I should do the best that I can and leave some sort of legacy and impression on the world. By world I mean my world. I hope to leave memories and love with my family and friends, and even those that know me only briefly. It’s a very unambiguous way to think of things, knowing I have one shot at this life. It’s a bit heavy for some to consider, I understand. But it’s always been enough for me.
“God has a plan,” “Things happen for a reason,” “It wasn’t meant to be,” “God never gives you more than you can handle,” “You have to have faith.” I struggle with all of these. At least one of them I’ve used before, more than once. Sometimes, shit happens(!), and we say what we can to comfort people. When there are no explanations, we often go to “comfort clichés.” I can’t fault anyone for that; sometimes it’s just nice to say, or hear anything, especially for situations you don’t understand. During the rocky year when I was trying to get pregnant, I kept hearing that it will happen when it’s supposed to, or to have faith... What did I expect anyone to say? It’s shitty to go through and it’s even shittier to comfort someone going through it. It (obviously) worked out. Hence the adorable ginger you see constantly on my Facebook and Instagram! But it sure wasn't on my terms. Shocker…
It’s very hard to go through that and not have faith in something larger, believe me. It’s times like that when you rely on your own intuition and strength. It’s not easy, that I will say.
Now add a child to the mix.
I wondered if I would change my views… all the while knowing that is not in my nature. I know people that have kids and start going to church more and becoming more active in faith organizations, or just have stronger beliefs. I can certainly understand how that happens when you have someone other than yourself to consider. Someone once asked me, “Well, what are you going to tell Atticus when someone close to him dies?” Now THAT is a very loaded and monumental question. It didn’t take me long to answer… And I’ll tell you that answer. But first…
I don’t think it’s what you say to your kids that’s so critical (don’t read too much into that). Meaning: I don’t think it’s detrimental to your child’s mental health for you to tell them you believe in God or not, or people go to heaven, or there is no higher being. I think what we need to remember is that kids need stability, compassion, and independence. They need a choice. And most importantly, they need to know that their parents know what they believe in and stand by it. I think indecisiveness is the murderer of independence in children.
Don’t freak out because I put that in bold. I just feel strongly about it for myself. Children need things to be outlined for them. They need answers one way or another. Black or white. How can they become their own people when they don’t see their parents making direct decisions or standing for something. There’s a saying (and fabulous country song) that I LOVE: “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” I agree, do it!! I get that some things will be in the middle as they get older, but when they are wee ones, they need a little assurance and decisiveness from the people they look up to.
I sure hope Atticus doesn’t just go with what Jen or I believe in. [Insert here that we do not have the exact same beliefs]. I hope he figures it out for himself, and I have no preference. If he became a priest I’d be happy (Aries: I function with extremes, mind you). I mean, I want him to be happy, intelligent, and completely his own person. Some parts of my life were not ones I had any control over, so I made a deal with myself that I would allow Atticus to grow into his own and be in total control of his life. My only job is to love and protect him above all else. I will not live through him, I will not choose his life path, and I will not place emphasis on what I think he should do. I will just support, and step in as he requests. I do say all of this knowing that I have the ability to change my mind. I say this mainly because I do not want him playing football. Sorry Jen. CONCUSSIONS!!
Okay, so back to what happens when people die. My response to that question was this:
I will tell him that when people die our memories of them become part of who we are. Those people remain with us by our choice to remember them always. I think it would be easier for me to say they went to heaven; little kids seem to accept that answer. The problem is, I don’t believe that myself. I don’t want to give him the impression that my beliefs waiver when something bad happens. People die and they become part of the earth again, whether they are buried in the earth or their ashes are scattered into the wind. They just become part of this world again after death. That comforts me as much as death can comfort anyone, and I will share that with Atticus one day. Although, I hope it’s very far into the future.
So you can say Atheist, Agnostic, whatever… People tend to walk farther from you if you say Atheist, so I just never really say anything. I do promise though that I don't bite, even if you disagree! I don’t put up a fuss when someone says they’re praying for me: I find it endearing actually. We share our beliefs and rituals as best we can with others, and the meaning is always what matters. If you tell me I’m going to hell for being gay I’ll probably just raise an eyebrow. I’m not 20 anymore… I won’t tell you how I used to react to that sort of thing. If you know me well, you don’t need an explanation.
I have learned that you CANNOT change someone’s beliefs easily, especially with your own opinion, or even with logic. I used to be so annoyed by that. Now I realize that is a trait I respect more than ANY OTHER. If you believe in it then by all means stick with it. If you falter, I lose my faith in who you told me you were. I don’t think we need to advertise it, but isn’t that what I’m doing right now? GUILTY. Spewing my belief secrets for a blog post. [shaking my head].
That’s it for now y’all. Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings as always.