Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I remember when I was much younger and my family went to church, I didn’t realize for the longest time that people actually believed the stories in the Bible. It was a gradual realization, there wasn’t really a specific moment in time that it struck me that people took those stories seriously and as actual documented events. Like the Ancient Greek stories that my Mama told me, I thought they were good moral stories to learn from, and that church was just a place where people who had a particular connection with those stories gathered (which I found kind of odd, because I found the tales a little hard to understand because of the way they were written, but they were adults, sometimes adults did things that didn’t make sense to me because I’m the kid. It would all make sense once I was grown up, which in my mind was around fourteen or so). I remember not wanting to accept that adults believed these stories, and having to keep on reminding myself that they thought it was all real so I wouldn’t make a comment that might offend them.
  At one point I tried to think it was all true, I even said it out loud, but it rang false in my ears. The statement made me feel dirty, because I didn’t believe, I just wanted to, really badly, I wanted to, but I didn’t like the feeling that the Lord’s Prayer gave me when I recited it, it was the same feeling I got when I was trying to lie to someone.

  So for years I discouraged my family going to church. When my parents asked if I wanted to go, I would just say I didn’t like getting up early, and they would leave it at that and let me sleep. One year on Easter Papa was feeling some pressure from his boss to go to this Easter play his boss’s church was putting on. I tried to pass the “too early” excuse, but it was an evening show. So we went, and I remember feeling some surprise after the show was over and everyone was invited to come up to the alter and be forgiven all of their sins, and neither of my parents budged. Later, our parents bought us some shakes for behaving so well, even though none of us had wanted to go. As we slurped they explained that sometimes in the work world you had to do things that you wouldn’t normally do, and in this case it was either Papa would have to spend hours on his boss’s boat to go fishing, or go to this play; and that if he didn’t do either, it would have been very awkward. We asked what they thought of the Easter story; the most that they would commit to was that if Jesus was a real person, it didn’t really affect us because it was so long ago. I felt a rush of relief, because I felt that way too, though I wouldn’t have been able to put it to words. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that my parents never stated their own beliefs because they wanted my brothers and I to find our own way, and not be influenced by their opinions when we were too young to make our own, and no matter what conclusions we reached, they would accept it and love us no matter what.

  In my late teens whenever I made a statement about beliefs or religion in general, Mama would present the opposite side of the arguments, which baffled me, then she told me she just wanted me to have my arguments down to the letter, so my opinions would be complete, like a house with four walls, a door and a roof (I’m paraphrasing, she didn’t say this exactly.) As I became more observant and I just saw more of the world in general, I learned that there were people out there who had their opinions, and stood by them, even though their “house” was very incomplete, the one thing that they had finished was a closed and padlocked door to keep all other options and opinions out. So because of my parent’s unique and wise way of upbringing, I feel confident in my house, and that I try to keep all doors and windows open, and I’m not afraid of remodel as circumstances change in my life.

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