At a glance the title of this post might seem defensive, but I promise it’s not meant to be. It’s just that I grew up in church, Southern Baptist to be exact, and my husband, Catholic. So I know that there are many of you, some of our family included, who are genuinely concerned for our salvation, and the spiritual foundation (or lack thereof) of our children. I am writing this to share with you how the spiritual life of a churchless family of God looks. And to let you know that while we understand your sincere desire to save us, we don’t need it.
It’s not that we’re atheists (although we don’t condemn our friends who are) or against the church and organized religion, it’s just not something we feel a firm conviction to partake. What I do know, is I feel at my most authentic outside of a church family. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but that’s the truth. More so, my faith and relationship with God have never been stronger. I have a designated portion of my meditation practice dedicated to prayer, and can honestly say that I understand, deep in my soul, the meaning of Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God…”.
What does this mean for our churchless children? First and foremost, it means that just because they are churchless, doesn’t say they are Godless. We are blessed with a family deep in faith on both sides, and they are never far from spiritual support. In our daily lives, it’s praying before meals; even if we are out in a restaurant, followed by a family gratitude practice over said meal. It’s skipping the “now I lay me down to sleep…” bedtime prayer for a humble prayer of surrender and requests for compassion, patience, and kindness. It’s showing them, that while we do not tithe, we give what we have whenever possible. Perhaps an apple to the homeless man, followed by a teachable moment that he might be homeless due to bad decisions, but it’s not our place to judge. Or merely donating our time and resources to a cause.
Worship and celebration of God’s greatness happen naturally, from day to day, whether we are admiring the beauty of the sunset or singing along to one of the “God songs” that plays on their Pandora station. It’s allowing them the opportunity to explore their spirituality and religion. They were all baptized in the Catholic faith, by a family friend who happens to be a Bishop in special family services in our home. They are encouraged to participate in the mindfulness practice they see modeled before them by my husband and me. Furthermore, when they want to go to mass with my in-laws we encourage them to do so. And it’s understood that if it’s important to them that we go with them, we will. We also talk about religion regularly and openly in our house – exposing them to different schools of thought. For example, in the week leading up to Easter, we read from their kid’s bible and discussed Catholic and Jewish traditions surrounding this time of year.
On Easter morning their Easter baskets contained bubbles, candy, Easter socks, and toothbrushes – with great effort being made not to make Easter a material spectacle. We spent time with family and streamed a kids beginner bible video on YouTube about the story of Easter before praying and having breakfast. Our day looked very similar to my Easter Sundays growing up; minus the Church service.
Most importantly it’s about teaching tolerance and giving the whole picture when they ask us about religion or spiritual matters. They know that not everyone believes in God, and that’s OK. They understand that we treat all people with love and respect, just the way God wants us to – no matter what. And that even though there are various books and different names, God is in all of us and there is no right or wrong way to love him.
I share this with you not to say our way is better than a more traditional route to God, but to say thank you for thinking of our family. We know that you come from the purest of places when you share your testimony with us. It’s important to us that you know we are not lost, backslidden, or even just OK – but on the contrary very much spiritually fulfilled and growing.