I can't say that I have been frequently asked my religion. Thankfully, we live in a time and place in which it's not really "appropriate" to ask that question to a stranger.
However, it's not something that I haven't wondered myself.
I grew up in church, attending Sunday School and church services. I enjoyed reading the Bible at one point in time, and felt it interesting. However, it didn't resonate anything within myself that felt "true to me." My friends were Christians, and I called myself a Christian at one point as well.
To me (and please don't take offense to this, it's my opinion. I'm allowed to have one ;) the Bible was little more than a story book. I don't agree with all of the lessons within it, and I don't believe all of the stories.
For the longest time, I have considered myself Atheist (simply as: a non-believer), but as I grew older, I learned that the word "atheist" means to many: of no values, no virtue, and other negative implications. For this reason (and this reason alone), I called myself Agnostic to anyone who asks.
Skip a whole lot to the current situation:
My eldest daughter, who is 6, has a biological father who is not present: has started asking about her dad (or, how she refers to him: Ben, the guy who used to be my dad). One of the questions she asked me is this:
"Mom, if God used to be my dad instead of Ben, would he have left me?"
Aw shoot babe. That's such a sad freaking question. I told her that many people consider God to be their Father, and he is everyone's Father. So he used to be her dad, but he still is, too.
"But Mom. He's dead."
Nope kiddo. He's not dead, he's still around. He's still watching and loving you. He just lives in Heaven, he's like the boss of the sauce up there."
After that conversation, I immediately took my kiddos to church. I found one that seemed friendly, we went to service, and they are going to Bible School there as well. You see, I may not believe, but that is not MY choice to make for my kids. I know this is a new-age sort of way of thinking, and many people (both religious and not) may disagree with it. But...it's how I was raised. And it's how I will raise my children. Go, learn about God and Jesus, believe if you want to (and I will never tell them it's not truth). I will support your religious journey.
It has been quite the experience though, walking into a church as an adult (as a teen, I would complain to my mom that "I'll burn if I walk through those doors!" It was a joke, obviously, but I hated going).
he church I went to through my most recent childhood years was Methodist, and this is a Lutheran church. So there are some very, very distinct differences there, as well. Which surprised me... I thought that "all churches are basically the same, they believe in the same God." This is also not true...yes, they believe in the same God, but they have different beliefs to a certain extent.
I have to admit: church has been a pleasant and enlightening experience for me.
So the pastor asked me: "Have you found your home church yet?" Well, sir, I do believe this is it. I like you guys, you accept me, you're all super friendly, services are nice, the kids love it.... Yes. I think we have.
And then I was invited to become a member. Sounding silly, I just had to ask him what that meant. He gave me a booklet, and told me that basically I will announce my belief in God in front of the church or something, but to read through and learn about Lutherans.
This is where my enlightenment comes in. Maybe....I guess that part shall be continued.
Lutherans do not believe in ____________ (I'm going to leave this part blank, for political reasons basically. I appreciate all belief systems, and I don't want to offend anyone by inserting all of mine here).
Well SNAP. There goes that. I texted my mom... "Mom...I know I'm not Christian, I don't believe in God.... but I'm definitely not Lutheran."
So here begins my journey. I'm spiritual. I believe that what you do in this life, will affect you afterwards. I believe in karma (in fact, my beautiful cat's name is Karma, short for Carmella). I have a set of morals that I live by, and my greatest joy in life comes from helping others.
I do believe I may be Buddhist.
So begins my journey to religion. Will I ultimately decide that I am Buddhist? I don't know. But after the research I have done, and what I've read, I think there's a fairly good chance. I love how open and loving the culture of Buddhism is. I love the serenity of the whole thing, and the values of Buddhism mirror my own values.
Later on this month, perhaps this week if I am lucky, I will be making a trip to a Buddhist temple. This makes me nervous (I am sure it will be a completely different culture than I am used to).
Some questions to think about:
Will I raise my children to be Buddhist? No. I'll teach them the morals I value, but I can't morally do that. It remains their choice.
Will I become a member of the Lutheran Church? I have noooooo idea. Am I allowed to do this? Someone please let me know. Jesus was thought to be a Buddhist monk... Can I do this? Seriously, let me know in the comments. If I'm not a member, can my 7,6, and 2 year olds be? Such a weird situation.
Will I baptize my children? Probably. That's their choice. Lily wants to. Mike (their daddy) is a devout Catholic, and I know that he wants them baptized. (Seriously though, in our cute little already blended family, we are about to have a blended religion family too! hahaha)
And to think.... I owe this all to the Christian church.
Stay tuned, I'm going to tell you all about my Buddhist experience when I visit the temple!
Jillian Shanahan is an online job coach, mentor, and teacher.