For those who know me in person, know I am not a religious type of person. They know I went to a public elementary school, and a catholic high school. They know I hated both. They do not know why.
Recently, we are planning my newborns baptism, into the Catholic Church. Throughout the planning process, I have wanted to go back to Church, so my small family on Sundays get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack a diaper bag, put on our good shoes, and go to Church. For those who know me – friends, family, my spouse – They keep asking “Why Church?”. My spouse assures me I do not owe anyone an explanation. But as I lay here in the dark at 3:30 am after a midnight feeding, I asked myself, Why Church? And this is what I realised….
My spouse is Catholic raised. I was Anglican raised. He was raised to practise the Catholic Religion, right up until we met. My family did practise our religion until I was about seven years old. Then we stopped going to church. Reasons have always changed. My grandparents excuses to protect my mothers wrong doing always changed.
My entire life my Grandmother protected my mother, whether she was right or wrong. To the public’s eye, as far as my Grandmother was concerned, my mother did no wrong. Reality was my mother was a horrid human being, and my grandmother was humiliated to admit so. Before she died, she gave my grandfather permission to walk away. He never wanted my mother (She was adopted). She was a rotten child, a horrid teenager and an even worse adult. She hurt people, both physically and mentally. She financially stole from those who had more than her, and those who had less. She didn’t care if you were sick and dying, she would steal from you as well. He was time and time again embarrassed and humiliated by her choices and her actions, and when my grandmother died, he took her permission, and turned his back to her. I do not blame him for doing so.
Before my Grandmother passing, I had some form of belief. I use to believe in a God. I use to believe there was a man in the sky watching over me. Judging my every move. Judging whether or not I was good enough for a better place after I lived my life. I use to believe in the stories, I use to believe the pathway that lead up to Jesus, and that it was all connected and brought us to our everyday. I use to believe in a lot more than I do now.
When I was 13, my parents and grandparents were big on me going into a Catholic high school. Reasons being – it was in the middle of no where. I was a lost child. I suffered from depression and they believed the beauty of the country side would help me find myself. They believed daily religion classes would give me something to believe in and see. They believed I would stay out of trouble. They… were wrong.
WE jumped through hoops for months to get me into this school. Neither of my parents were Catholic, so the school system had a hard time accepting my application. After some meetings with a Priest, the school Chaplin, a letter from my lawyer of a grandfather on my fathers side, being accepted into the Catholic Church and some classes after school… I was accepted. I hated it. I didn’t want to go. But I did. For some reason, my Grandmother was beyond delighted.
Throughout my first year of high school, my belief in God became more real to me… This didn’t last long.
Summer after Grade 9, my grandmother became ill constantly. She continuously told us it was just pneumonia. I slowly watched her become more and more sick. As she became more sick, I started private meetings with my school Chaplin. I was worried constantly, it effected my school work daily, my friendships, etc. My Chaplin showed me how to pray and what I wanted to pray for. So I started to pray. I prayed for forgiveness on my poor attitude, I prayed for my grandmother to become better, my mother to stop upsetting everyone, my grandfather to stop being so grumpy. I prayed for my sister to find herself, my younger sister to stop being beaten and blamed for the family issues, I prayed a lot. I believed that the man in the sky would protect us, find good health for us all and stop our family issues. When I was 15, my grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It was too late to stop it from growing, but we could slow it down with medicine. I became angry. I blamed God for her getting worse. I blamed my mothers ill behaviour and hatred. I blamed myself for not being able to help her. I became angry at my grandfather for paying less attention to me, and more to my grandmother. I was angry with my sister for acting out and being angry herself. I was angry because no one noticed I was angry. I started to think of ways on how to end my life when my grandmothers ended…. because I didn’t believe I could live a life without her in it. Who would protect me when she was gone?
I looked for attention else where, found a boy, made poor choices and became pregnant with my oldest, Kaeydence. No one wanted me to keep her, including the boy. Where I was losing myself and looking for something to keep me here on earth, everyone else was trying to convince me to get rid of ‘it’. My grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my siblings. Surprisingly, my mother raised to my side and supported me. Little did I know why… I didn’t care at that point. I had someone by my side. Someone who never was before. It seemed this child, as much as closed the doors to everyone else, opened the relationship with my mother back up. The abuse stopped… for a short time.
When my grandmother passed, my belief in God went with her.
So, back to our question. Why Church? Because I became lost. I still don’t believe in a God, but I do believe in a higher power. I do believe there is something bigger out there that created us and got me to where I am today. I do believe there is something out there always watching over me. Whether it be my past relatives, angels in heaven, the devil in hell or a man in the sky… I do believe something is watching over us. Specifically… I do not know what that something is.
For years though, I was lost. I am now 25 years old. I have a spouse. I have two children. I have a cat and a dog. I have a family and a house and responsibilities. I have a belief. But for years I was alone, lost, confused and scared. I didn’t know where to go to for help. I didn’t trust anyone to help me even when I found out where to look.
Why Church? Because I never want my children to feel the things I felt, think the things I thought and make choices based on the fear and loneliness I endured. I want them to know there is an amazing community out there that will help them, guide them and support them. I want them to know they are never truly alone, someone or something is always watching over them. I want them to know that being lost isn’t a possibility because we are always there to support and guide them back to whatever pathway they choose to take. I want them to know they are never alone.
I will not raise them to believe in a specific God. We chose the Catholic Church, because we are both Catholic (Technically I am through the process I went through to go to a Catholic High School). I will not raise them to shove their beliefs or our religion down others throats. I will not teach them to hate those who believe in something else. I will teach them to love everyone, help everyone, support everyone. I will teach them about second chances, and letting go of pain that they will endure. I will teach them to take the readings, prayers and passages we hear on Sundays with open eyes. I will teach them to learn the lessons they teach and believe in what they choose. I will teach them that even though there is one God in our religion, there can be something else in our hearts and our own individual beliefs. I will raise them to love themselves before they can love another.
And I do not care if this is they way it should be done. I do not care if people agree with this way. My spouse and I agree on our beliefs. We agree on our teachings to our children and we believe in the same ideals.
So, One last time… Why Church?
Because I believe in a better tomorrow for my children that I had yesterday.