As a child, my parents raised me as a Lutheran, which to this day -albeit perhaps hypocritically- I still claim to be. I was never the child who took to blind faith as my mother had raised me to ask questions. I remember the stunned face of my Sunday School teacher when I asked after a lesson in which she explained that everyone who knew and accepted God (that is the Judeo-Christian God) would be allowed into heaven, “What about the ancient Greeks and Romans and Asian people?” She blinked, not understanding my questions. “That’s not fair. The did not God or Jesus. No one told them or they had different beliefs, so why wouldn’t they get into heaven too?” She never gave me an answer, and I believe she had “a talk” with my mom.
As a teen, I was active in the church, participated in youth groups, attended Christian band concerts, and even when to a national youth gathering and Bible camp. I will even admit to feeling “the spirit” move me during a few of these experiences. By this, as I reflect back as an adult, I mean that I feel a deep sense of human connection which filled me -if only briefly- with a sense of my insignificance in the scheme of the history of the world and willing vulnerability in sharing this acknowledgement with relative strangers.
During my freshman year in college, I was exposed for perhaps the first time different religions and beliefs through Humanities, Religions of World, and African Studies. Briefly religion in general fascinated me as it was clearly a tool used as societal control and a catch all to explaining that which we could not. I deemed organized religion a nuisance and outdated and though little more about it.
In 2005, my husband and I had our first child. While I wasn’t keen on religion, I knew that I wanted my child to have a solid foundation in the societal norms of love, generosity and hope. Since my husband had also been raised Lutheran, and was much more faithful than I, he suggested we start going to church with our daughter. I obliged as I didn’t truly have anything against it though I wasn’t sure I felt I believed it either.
Shortly after, in June 2006, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carsinoma- breast cancer. During my treatment, battle, personal hell, I raged at the concept of god. How dare he/she inflict such suffering in the world? Not only was I a new mother and a mere 24, there where others just a innocently being struck down by strategy. How could a loving, benevolent god harm those he/she proclaimed to love? I stopped going to church- though our church literally kept of fed during this time- and I snubbed any kind of sentiments that “God only gives us what we can handle” or that “God has a plan.”
Four years later, we decided to have another baby. The doctors thought I was nuts for rising the hormone levels since my cancer had grown a spread during my previous pregnancy, and my mom was beside herself thinking about the possiblity. However, I was overjoyed to be having another child despite my anxiety about reoccurance, especially since we weren’t even sure I would physically be able to have another due to the chemo and radiation I had undergone.
Lately, however, as we attend church, one that I truly enjoy being at as our pastor explains the Scripture in a historical manner, I have felt hypicritical. As my daughters ask questions about the Bible and God, while I know the “correct answers”, the same that were taught to me in Sunday School, I find myself hesitating. Do I give an answer that I don’t particularly believe? I don’t want them to grown up and find out that more often than not I disbelieve the stories of the Bible. I do know that I believe in a higher power. I do believe that there is something bigger than this life. But whether that belief coexists with the Christian faith, I’m not sure.
I do know that I will continue to grow my understanding of the world through the teachings of the Christian church as I seek to reconcile what I do believe with what the church teaches. I don’t think it is wrong to give my daughters a foundation in faith that they can grow in and question as they grow, I just find that I am not yet proficient in talking to them about it, especially when I struggle to understand my faith as well. An while I don’t know that I believe God as He exists within the church, I found this verse today- “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says The Lord.” (Isaiah 66.9) -and for whatever reason, possibly my struggle with cancer as a new mother and the blessing of a second child, it struck a cord, and perhaps opened my heart and soul a bit more for the mysteries of faith and god.