Before this blog write up even starts, just want to clarify this is not a blog about which religion, church, god is better or any other conflicting topic regarding established religions. I am going to put this out there for the record, I am open to all religions or even NON non - religions. (Non religious things - palm readers, tarot cards, sun worshipers, astrology; all cool, no judgement here in one's faith.) Also to be fair, I am not the person to lecture anyone on that. Our family lives in plenty of sin, we actually wrote a blog about it. In fact this isn't really religion based; it is just something I personally want to remember. So let's go ahead and call this a diary entry. And, depending on your age, you heard that title in either A.) George Michael, B.) Limp Bizkit or C.) Both.
Since the beginning of human civilization most of the great empires believed in something. Whether it be the Chinese, Egyptians, Mayans, Greeks, and so on. Human civilization has had some type of thing to worship, or in these examples multiple things to worship to help explain what they could not explain; we can all agree that was the majority of the reasoning behind polytheism. (Example - sun gods, moon gods, goddess of love, etc.) Also if I am wrong, please educate me. Love a good book, even ones on old (or new) religions. Our story to faith is probably not very different than anyone else's. That including our ancient ancestors. It all started with a question.
A few years back Kasen, little man, started elementary school. We loved this school for a few reasons, but a big reason was that it drew students from such a variety of cultures. Something I find attractive, as growing up military you dealt with a lot of diversity, whether it's different traditions, religions, ethnicity, or social classes. Learning to understand each others differences is pretty cool, especially if you can obtain this at a young age. Little man quickly became good friends with a little boy, let's call him Shaik. Shaik and his family are different than us, which is AWESOME. It was that year, 2016, in kindergarten that Kasen started asking questions. It was during the time that Shaik and his family were celebrating Diwali. Little man comes home that day FREAKING OUT!
K: "Mom, mom, MOMMMMM!"
K: "Shaik is already celebrating Christmas!!!! That's not fair. Why can't we have Christmas now too? He says they put up their lights already. Can we put up ours?"
(Side note, if I remember correctly this fell in October that year)
Me: "HA! Shaik is not getting ready for Christmas bud, he is getting ready for Diwali."
K: ::blank stare::
Me: "Did he tell you what Diwali was?"
Kasen continuing the blank stare, was a dead giveaway he did not. That is when the first part of our journey started. All started over a question of why we didn't get to party too. Over the few years Kasen wanted to learn more about different religions, which I selfishly loved. I find religion as interesting as I do politics, and we all know how much I love politics. Also to be clear here in context Religion and Faith are TWO drastically different entities.
Little man started setting on his journey without realizing it. Coincidentally the year before Trey got sick, the same year we got married, my mother in law was a huge help with little man. During that time she took him with her to church on days we had schedule conflicts. During that brief period he got a taste of Christianity, but did not enjoy the church itself. Which happens, one church does not fulfill everyone's needs, hence why we have so many. During our discussions after him going to church with Mimi and after a solid year plus of superficial religion education, Kasen started asking deeper questions. I remember it like it was yesterday, he was ending first grade and we were driving home from Universal/Islands of Adventures and out of the blue the questions started. "Why do people believe such different things?" "Why is everyone's image of GOD different?" "What do we believe in?"
That last question though. That last question was it. The one that everyone is looking to answer, some may have already found that answer. But Kasen wanted to know, what should he believe in? You could have cut the silence in the car with a butter knife. Trey and I grew up with different religious views and oddly this wasn't a discussion we had prior kids, or even DURING kids. Although different religious backgrounds, we had similar beliefs and we both agreed we did not want our religious beliefs to be our kids just because they were ours (same with politics - see the trend). Finally we cut the silence and Trey and I vaguely disclosed that we were raised with different beliefs but they were under the same umbrella. Which sadly confused him even more. That night we got home and put the boys to bed and we discussed the conversation. We came to an agreement, we would be open to finding a place for Kasen to be able to ask questions and freely form his own faith.
The faith talk subsided and to be honest we probably just forgot, summer rolled around, then the holidays, then the new year and Kasen didn't bring it up once. We went almost a whole year without the topic being brought back up. Then Easter 2018 happened. That is when questions were brought back up. That is when we knew it was time to find somewhere. Let me tell you, google really fails you when finding a place of worship. Great for restaurant information, but faith/church searches not so much. In less than a mile from our home we have eight churches, that is correct eight! I wish I could say I went to all of the churches googled "offered" but I did not. We have all sorts of churches or places of worship, within a descent radius of our area - the mega churches, the super small churches, the all black churches (LOVED their service btw), even a buddhist temple. I searched high and low for a place where I felt okay for our kids to ask questions. I did find a place I enjoyed over multiple bridges; for those that don't know beach residents don't "cross the ditch" aka the bridge unless we have to... Yet, driving over one bridge was too far let alone three! The hubs was a hard no when the place I enjoyed was almost 40 minutes away. That was fair. I tried finding a church after that Easter, but came up short...
Honestly, by this point I was unsure I would find a place for our family. Fast forward a few months, we are chest deep into my campaign and boom - death. Nothing like a death or a serious sickness in the family to bring up the faith talk. Everyone is praying for you, sending you prayers, or in fact actually praying on you. It was this straw that broke the camels back. After finishing the affairs of my late father in law and closing in on the campaign that question came back up "What do we believe in?" Again, it was like a knife. It felt like I let him down. I never helped him answer this question when he asked it over a year ago. So I did what I always do when I am unsure of what to do or where to go. I read. Not sure if this helped me out here actually - at one point after reading multiple books, blogs, and even "THE BOOK" and feeling more lost than ever I reached out to someone who wrote a blog I felt connected with. It was a "famous" blogger, whatever that really means, so I honestly didn't expect an email back. He actually responded that day, it was what I needed to remind me that my search wasn't over - there is a purpose for my search. I ended up having a chat with a few friends on it. Something a person said that will forever stick with me "This is so cool! Your kid is asking you about faith, which is something that can't be found in just any book. It is your job to guide them." He's right, and per usual he also guided me to someone who could highlight how they did a blended faith. Conveniently during all of this an old childhood friend of mine was in town. We did a coffee date at our favorite doughnut shop where we talked and talked and talked. Almost three hours of genuine conversation. This was where she recommended a place that may meet our families needs, probably wouldn't check off all of our wants but it was a great place to start and where they felt at home. So we went that Sunday, at 9 am...
Personally it has been a very long time since I felt comfortable in a church. It has been a long time since I have even regularly attended church in all honesty. I'm talking about a cool 12 years. As a kid I was also very question oriented and where we went to church growing up, questions were often frowned upon. To say I was hesitant stepping into church with my kids was an understatement. I was nervous. My previous church adventures that year were all done solo. For some reason the thought of taking my kids with me gave me anxiety. Don't ask me why, as I am unsure of what caused that feeling. Will update once I figure it out. However, my friend was right. This was in fact a place where we could start our journey of faith; together as a family. This was a place where anyone can ask questions and freely discuss their thoughts or fears without being seen as a burden. A place that you felt good after leaving a service, rather than shamed as if you are not enough or pressured. After a few services with just the kids, Trey joined us. Each one of us is probably attending for different reasons, but that is okay and that is part of our journey. As a family we enjoy our Sunday services and look forward to it weekly. Our family may not have answered little man's question but we found a good place to start.
"Over 7.5 billion people on earth; but who are we?"
~ Derek Harmon