The Faithful Life

You know, I'm just going to come right out and say it: I don't know what to think about raising my kids in regards to religion. I think about the way I was raised - the Christian school I attended and the Bible camps I went to over summer breaks and the excessive number of youth groups I took part in - and I feel a lot of trepidation about passing that sort of lifestyle down to my kids.

Now don't get me wrong, I loved my adolescence, and all those experiences are an integral parts of the person I am today. I can't imagine that Jesus-centric world not being a part of my story. I wouldn't want my life to not include the sometimes over-the-top Christian upbringing, because I think in the long run it has given me great insight and empathy for those whose opinions differ from my own.

But the fact of the matter is, I am a failed pet-project of those institutions. My worldviews don't align with what I was taught, and free-thinking isn't exactly the cornerstone of religious order. I'm not a good Christian kid turned horror story by any means. I'm just not the success story that they can tout. I never fulfilled my prepubescent dreams of being a powerhouse worship singer married to my God-intended, granola-crunchy, youth pastor husband. And I sometimes call the church out for its flaws. That sort of thing.

You see, if I had stayed on the sort of path my life was supposed to follow (according to well-meaning camp counselors and youth pastors and teachers and mentors), I would be a very different person than the one I am today. And I'm not okay with that. I like the woman I have become. I take pleasure in thinking for myself and engaging in thoughtful debate and asking hard questions that I don't know the answers to. I don't mind that life is complex when you don't just chalk up the difficult concepts to faith or God's mysterious will. Life is better, more fulfilling, when you don't take the easy out.

I don't want to give my children an "easy out" with indoctrinated naivety. I don't want them to live in the same sort of bubble I did, for fear they may not burst out. For fear that they will someday enter the world with good intentions and no grasp on reality. Those are not the kind of people I want to put out into the world.

But at the same time, I enjoyed those places and experiences in spite of their flaws. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who had good hearts, who were kind and fun and loving at their core (for the most part, at least). There were still plenty of good things to take to heart from those years of Biblical teaching, and plenty of people who touched my life. I want those experiences for my children.

And I guess it's the same in all areas of their life, not just religion. I want to give them the good and spare them the bad, and that's not always possible. And though I don't want to admit it or think abut it or accept it, the adverse experiences are the ones which will teach them the most. The ones that will expose the fiber of their beings and force them to grow, even if they aren't sure they want to.

I'm still uncertain on exactly how we will navigate the choppy waters of faith with our babes. I suppose we'll figure it out as we go along, adjusting when necessary and doing the best that we can to give them balance and love and knowledge. We'll encourage them to bring their questions to us, and admit when there is no easy answer. Let them grapple with faith in their own time, on their own terms. And let them know that it shouldn't be easy.

That's the whole point.