Religion is the top topic in my head! At all times, I find myself steering conversations to get people to talk about their faith. I am delighted if I find people who like to debate on religion and absolutely thrilled if the debate is on their lack of religion. I have also been “religiously” mopping up whatever Richard Dawkins had to say on this topic and scouting YouTube for whatever anyone has to say on atheism has become a favorite passtime.
I have been raised in a devout christian family; growing up on daily dose of bible stories and family prayers and being actively involved in church. I was chosen by my MIL for her son for the very same reason. Since the time I left my home I have have seen the religion/faith playing an even bigger role not only in my parents’ lives but also among the extended family members.
We lost faith as we knew it, quite early in our journey together. Having lived in places where there was no access to church and having interacted with people of all faiths and having seen poverty and suffering, having read and having faced loss, it was a very easy thing to lose.
But the guilt remains!
Betraying my parents, the very foundation of whose life is God, my In-laws who hoped for a good DIL who would lead their son and his family on a spiritual life, the church where both of us grew up and baptised our children.
I am plagued by the nagging thought whether I am doing the right thing for the kids(will prayer ease that tension?). Don’t they need a faith to turn to while growing up, just like we had, the knowing that God will get them through an exam or help to win the student council election, the faith that they will always remain happy, that a quick prayer will take any fear away?
The power that the simple action of making a cross has is tremendous. It can mean “Thank you for the good day”, “Sorry for hitting my sister”, “Hope I get a merit”, “Take care of me through the night”, anything and everything! Should I deny my kids the comfort of this faith?
So while all these questions have been eating away my brain the kids have been growing with what they got from grandparents and church visits on their trips home. I invoke God on the kids quite often ( looking up I would say “God please note that T is wasting her food, she says she is full but I am not convinced.”) with a reasonably high success rate. These have been rare occasions when I have sat them down for the evening prayer or hymn.. Most stories end up with questions that I had no answer to, ” so where did Jonah poo when he was in the whales tummy?”, ” How is it Ok for Jesus to drink wine?”
There were poignant questions asked by the elder one (at 3) that also contributed to the shaping of our faith. One was ” So who made God? ” and the other while talking about some accident “Mom, where was God looking at that time?” He also went through a stage when he seemed to be listening to a faraway sound and he would tell us that God is talking to him. On prodding he would say that God is in the wall and talks to him at all times. He got us to do many things at that time and as new parents we probably were hoping that he turns out to be a special child. Recently on talking about those days he coolly said “Mom that was only my mind talking”.
Well he is now 9 and I am realising that my worrying is unnecessary. The kids will hear of everything outside of home and they can be amazingly rational as long as we are open and truthful to them. He has been having his own discussions in school about religion and he has understood that there are kids in his school who need not pray or go to church, who don’t have a religion. This came up again at the dinner table last night and we finally explained to him about atheists and agnostics. His immediate reaction was that ” I think I am an agnostic”. How easily that came out!
So what I am trying to convince myself here is that I needn’t feel guilty about not being a good christian or daughter my mother wanted or mother to my children my MIL hoped for… What I believe in today becomes my religion. If tomorrow I heed my moms prayers then I become a christian, If Dawkins wins the battle against my mom then I become an atheist.
For now I remain an agnostic because of my confusion!