Practicing Vicariously is excited and honored to welcome its first Guest Contributor, Rachel, author of the blog A Well-Drafted Life! Enjoy her beautiful, thoughtful reflection and see her bio below.
BECOMING a MOTHER: QUESTIONS of FAITH
I realize only now that as I was growing up, my parents were doing their own growing up of sorts. They were on their own journeys of faith, exploring all the possibilities in search for a higher truth. They were decidedly Christian in their leanings, but also bonafide new age adherents. This meant that among visits to local Christian churches—everything from Methodist to Society of Friends—they also attended shamanic drumming circles, Qi Gong meditation groups, and just about every other non-traditional spiritual practice available in our area. And I tagged along.
As you can imagine, this taught me to be open to all faiths and spiritual practices, from eastern to western, the more traditional to the quite unusual. In addition to bringing me along on this journey of theirs, my parents also encouraged me to visit religious services with friends. Eventually this led me to be a member of a local evangelical church during my teen years. Despite its challenges, I gained a lot from this experience—knowledge of the Bible, lifelong friends, and a true understanding of God’s love. At some point in high school, though, it didn’t quite feel right anymore, and I stopped attending. Since then, I’ve visited even more religious spaces and services: Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Mennonite, and Science of Mind.
I don’t regret a moment of this experience. In large part, it shaped who I am today and allows me to talk to someone of virtually any faith with actual knowledge of their doctrine, rather than the usual assumptions and misunderstandings. It’s led to numerous heart-to-hearts with people about what part of their faith is troubling them or brings them the most joy. I’m proud that these experiences have made me able to listen to someone of any religion (or even those without one) with an open heart and an open mind, to have real conversations, devoid of judgment or fear.
When I tell other like-minded people about my religious past, they think it’s amazing too. They all say that they hope to provide a similar experience for their children, and they hope that their children will come out the same in the end.
But as I prepare to become a mother myself—in only a few short months—I have begun to ask myself what kind of spiritual experience I want to provide for my son, and I’m not sure it would be the same.
You see, despite the unquestionable value of growing up in this environment, I still envy those who have it “easy”—those with a clear religious identify, rooted in their family history. These people have always known what to call themselves, what to put under “religion” on medical records, applications, and Facebook profiles. I can confidently put “Christian,” but even that doesn’t explain the depth of my belief or experience. For most people I encounter it still begs the question, “What denomination?” and a litany of other pointed questions.
There is something to be said for having a strong foundation, a clear identity, and an answer to those nagging questions. So after months of mulling over these questions of faith and identity, I’ve decided that I want the best of both worlds for my son—a solid foundation and a diverse experience, a clear belief system and an openness to other ways of being.
Now the question is: How do we get there?
Rachel is an architect, marketing consultant, and soon-to-be-mother to a baby boy, due in January 2014. She was born and raised in Oklahoma but recently moved with her husband to the D.C. area after a year in New York City.
She blogs at awelldraftedlife.wordpress.com.