My son started saying/asking things that bothered me.
First he said, “Oh God!” and I responded with “Don’t say God’s name in vain!” Then I promptly looked around to see who had said that. It certainly wasn’t me…but it was. He asked me what that meant. I said “we only say God when we are praying”. He asked me what prayer was. That question hurt somewhere deep inside.
Last Christmas I had an internal struggle of how to explain the holiday to him. I wanted him to know that it was about more than Santa and getting gifts. But what did I want to tell him? What did I believe? I really wasn’t sure. I believed in a higher being, but did I believe that Christmas marked the birth of a baby that was our Messiah? Eh, probably not. When I start really looking into the “stories” that make up our beliefs, I start to wonder what separates Western religions from cults? Is it just that we don’t sacrifice animals or drink blood or poison kool aid? I don’t mean to be offensive just thoughtful. What makes these stories any more believable or normal than the belief that aliens will come to earth to save the righteous?
At the time, I decided to shelve these questions and tell him that Christmas was about being thankful for the people we loved and celebrating this love by giving to and helping others. Then he asked if Santa created the universe. That question hurt too, in much the same way as “What is praying?” hurt.
I slowly began to bury these questions as the business of living took precedence but then it became time to sign him up for religious education if I wanted him to receive communion on time. Did I? Again, I really wasn’t sure. This time, my husband didn’t really have an opinion, but shock, surprise I did. Those hurt parts of me way deep down inside wanted him to know who God was, what prayer meant and that there was a deeper meaning to all of these holidays (even if I wasn’t sure what they were).
So I signed him up for religion and consistent with my feelings about his baptism, I decided that we would start going to church. I didn’t want him to learn about a religion we didn’t practice. I wasn’t going to be a hypocrite about it.
So for the first time in nearly 20 years, I went to church for mass – not to celebrate a wedding or a christening or to mourn the dead – but just to worship…