Even after experiencing spiritual abuse and heartbreak, I kept taking my children to church. It wouldn't have been right for me to unload all my God-issues on them. I needed to protect their spiritual well-being. This meant protecting them from stumbling over my disillusionment and bitterness. Despite my own pain, it was still my maternal duty to give them some kind of connection to a faith community if only because I don't know what the future holds for my children. Of course, I hope it holds happiness. But I don't know what kind of realities, disappointments, setbacks, disease or losses they will face. Ultimately, I didn't want them arriving at adulthood without having God-awareness sown into their souls.
I didn’t want to cheat them of having a solid faith identity simply because Mommy could barely sit through a church service without having a panic attack.
I know of families who drop their kids at church while they go have coffee or run errands. I tried doing that but my children protested. They wanted me there. A strong faith identity is formed in children when their families attend church together. And while I believe that authentic faith is more about inner transformation and relationship than it is about how frequently you attend church—when I did take a break from church, it just wasn’t ideal for my children. They missed me. They begged me to come back. How could I resist this face?
Yes, there are traumatic divisions within the Christian faith, but if we can’t find a way to work through this, who will? Yes, I am hurt and broken but I still wanted to find the good—and yes, I still believe the good exists.
This Fall, all five of my children will enter Faith Formation classes at our local Catholic Church. My oldest three are going into their 2nd year and the twins are starting their 1st year. This means that Easter 2014 is gonna be a big deal around here as the oldest three will get baptized, confirmed and take First Communion. And Easter 2015 is gonna be big, too, with the twins doing the whole First Communion-with-adorable-white-dresses-and-veils shebang.
Honestly, I never expected we'd end up here. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would raise my children Catholic, I would have laughed hysterically. WHAT?! You mean, I'm leaving one cult to join the BIGGEST cult of them ALL?! Ba ha ha. Get out.
But here we are. And I gotta say: the Catholic Church has got its issues--just like any other institution run by human beings. But as we attend Mass together, our love for this ancient church grows deeper and deeper.
Now, if only I could teach them to genuflect properly!