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Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Church.

Every Sunday, I think about it. I wish I was the church-going type, but I just can't bring myself to walk into a church for some reason since Matt's death.


I wasn't raised going to church on a regular basis, even though I grew up Catholic. I don't know if I can necessarily blame the lack of routine growing up for my lack of routine for church as an adult, but my desire to go to church is even less now since Matt died. Maybe I'm just using that as an excuse - I blame Matt's death for everything these days...

I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs, and I would never begrudge anyone theirs, but I'm not looking for explanations for why I should start going... Even though I don't attend church, I have very specific spiritual beliefs.

I pretty much decided in 7th and 8th grade when I attended a Catholic school that I wasn't going to be Catholic anymore. There are just too many things I disagree with about that religion, and I felt hypocritical calling myself Catholic.

Matt's dad belonged to a Methodist church where we used to live, and it was such a beautiful, old architectural landmark. Because Roy attended church there, Matt and I decided that we would get married there. It was a gorgeous setting.

When I got pregnant with Jacob, I was beyond thrilled. I felt the spark of life inside me, and knowing that I had a little life growing in me that was part Matt and part me was such a miracle to me. Matt said I was the happiest pregnant woman he ever saw, and I felt like I was, too. I looked like hell because my face broke out so badly, but I still never felt so beautiful in my entire life. I can't even put into words the joy I felt the whole time I was pregnant. I loved every single moment of it. So much so, that when Jacob was born a month early, I felt robbed of that last month of pregnancy. (I know better now since I had the lovely experience of that last month with Sydney...)

Being pregnant with Jacob, I felt I had more of a responsibility to attend church. For two reasons - to show gratitude for the blessings that were bestowed upon me, and to give my children some religious background to draw from. I didn't feel qualified to teach anyone about God. I even told Pastor Frank (awesome man and teacher) my reasons for joining the church, and that I couldn't promise to attend every Sunday, but that I would try. He appreciated my honesty.

Even though I still feel a responsiblity to my children, I can't bring myself to attend church. Part of my responsibility to them is honesty, and I feel like I would be dishonest to myself and to them if I force myself to go. Maybe someday I can bring myself to get back into it, but for now, I accept the fact that I'm not.

Jacob frequently asks me questions about God; the most recent one being, "Where does God live?" My answer for him was, "In our hearts." He asked, "EVERYone?" and I told him, "In everyone who invites him in. Not everyone does, but God still loves everyone the same."  Maybe I'm more qualified than I thought to teach about God... at least the basics, anyway.

I don't believe that one has to go to church to be a good person. As long as you are honest and good to yourself and to others seven days of the week, you're good to go. These days, my home is my church.

12 comments:

Corinne Cooper said...

From another not so practicing Catholic, I could not agree more Andrea. Well said.

Kelly said...

Hi Andrea...I completely agree with your statement that good people aren't always church goers. I think we all know plenty of caring, wonderful people that aren't necessarily religious. And on the flip side, plenty of "religious" people that are completely un-Christlike too.

As a Christian that regularly attends church and is pretty involved in my church community, it's one of the things I like least about organized religion - all of the bad things that are said and done in the name of religion and/or God.

However, if I can give a small plug for going to church, I've found it's how I really grow in my faith - by challenging my existing beliefs through what I hear, experience, and study. I also like that our church is so involved in our community - it feels great to be in service to others and to reach out to those in need with open hearts and love. To me, being in relationship with others is the best part of the church experience.

Alicia said...

One of my favorite poems ...

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church --
I keep it, staying at Home --
With a Bobolink for a Chorister --
And an Orchard, for a Dome --

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice --
I just wear my Wings --
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton -- sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman --
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last --
I'm going, all along.

-- Emily Dickinson

That being said, one needs some measure of intentionality in what one believes or doesn't believe, in what one does or doesn't do.

Split-Second Single Father said...

When my wife was sick we got out of the habit of going to church for a while. I was, of course, well enough to go, but hated the idea of sitting there alone. My faith didn't necessarily suffer, but it didn't necessarily grow then either.

After she died, I realized the only way I could go to church would be to go alone (my daughter was still young enough to be in the nursery during the service at the time). So I resolved that I would do that and I seldom miss a service.

The time will come when you are ready to make that decision too. In the meantime, keep answering your son's questions. Your answers sound spot-on to me, as does Kelly's comment above.

AVM said...

I feel exactly the same way, Andrea. I've had a lifetime of Catholic school behind me and it's just too hard to buy into it hook, line, and sinker. It's something I really struggle with. I know my kids are going to need religious education sometime soon, I need to figure out what we're going to do!

BTW - I love your explanation to your son. I'm going to file that one away for when I need it.

毅力 said...

nice job! waiting for your new artical. ........................................

Crash Course Widow said...

Right there with you, Andrea. My spiritual beliefs (or maybe they're merely the religious ones?) have run a juggernaut the last 4.5 years since Charley died, and despite that many people would LOVE to think that going to church would heal me, help me, and they've pushed me to attend, I can't bring myself to do it. I don't know what I necessarily believe anymore, but I too can't stand the thought of going to church...and I also envy the people for whom their faith and church have been a huge fountain of support in their grief. I wish I felt the groundswelling they do...but I don't. It doesn't help matters any knowing that Charley was such an atheist and he'd be rather opposed to me taking his child to church. If he was alive, though, at least we could have discussed it and I'd know one way or the other what he could agree and live with; with him dead, I have no idea...and so I have another reason not to go.

Hugs, my friend!

SHannon said...

Oh Andrea...
You have such a way with words! I feel the exact same way. I am Italian, and grew up with STRICT Catholic parents and grandparents. Shoving Catholic religion down my throat. Now that my husband and I are planning to re-new our vows for our 5th wedding Anniversary, the Priest is being so bone-headed. He expects us to be in church EVERY week. We have something going on every week here with four kids. I worship God my own way, always have, always will. Well said girlfriend!

Heather said...

My mom is a non-practicing Catholic and Dad was a non-practicing Presbyterian. They let my brother and I decide for ourselves if we wanted to go to church and where. As kids, that tended to be wherever the friend we were spending the night went. I ultimately decided I liked the Methodist Church best but haven't been for years. I felt guilty going to church when I was living in sin.

After James died, my whole belief system was shaken. Mom once told me I can't be mad at God. I told her "wanna bet, because I am doing a damn good job of it." My anger toward Him has subsided a lot but not enough that I feel compelled to start attending church services again.

I also feel I should go to church because I grew up in a small town and that's what good girls from small towns do. And that is the wrong reason to go.

RevAnne said...

I'm a United Methodist pastor, so I'm happy that you've had a good experience with the church. That said...
When you are ready, you'll go back, and it will be different than it was, but also good. The only thing I would say about your sense that it would be dishonest for you to go is that church is the place we go to reliably find God, and take our questions. A good church is less interested in your reasons for being there, and more interested in helping you feel at home and meeting your needs--and thus helping you grow closer to God.
You know, the best and worst thing about church, as Kelly said, can be the people. But the right people can help sustain your faith when it is challenged, and help you grow spiritually when you are ready. Sounds like you've got one of those nearby...when you're ready, give them a chance.

Misty said...

I really loved this post a lot. The most important thing about God is our relationship with God. Church is just a detail. You meet God wherever you choose because you are totally right- He lives in our hearts so he is with us all of the time.

Carrie Lynn Fazzolari said...

I am a church goer because it works for me. After Jeff died, I stopped going. I was so mad at God, yet I knew how it had helped me in the past and so I made myself go. I went alone. I sat in a back pew and cried the whole time. I didn't go back again for a couple months. Then one day I woke up and thought, "it is time." I went to church, I said my ritualistic prayers half-heartedly. I was annoyed by the end of the service. Then I got home and felt a kick in my step and a little bit of joy in my heart. Something had seeped in!

Andrea - you have it figured out. The most important thing about spirituality as a mom is that you build a foundation for your kids to fall back on when the shit hits the fan. Church (not necessarily Catholicism) helps, but then again so does honesty and walking tall. It's like someone commented, there are a lot of people that go to church, but live in ungodly ways. Live a Godly life, you have it nailed.

I loved this post. Loved it!