The Spiritual Connection

I’m going to talk about something in this post that I don’t think I’ve addressed before on this blog: Spirituality.

I started thinking about this when I was reading all of the Easter posts. Easter is a holiday that I don’t celebrate, and haven’t since I was a kid. I was thinking that it would be fun to do the whole “bunny” part and swap baskets with Greg- which is kind of like a stocking on Christmas, right? And after all – I celebrate the “Santa” part of Christmas…

I’ll start by saying that I am pretty comfortable and happy in my beliefs, and think that they have suited me quite well for the last 30+ years of my life. I am definitely open to others’ opinions (and would in fact, love to hear them), but I’m probably not going to change what I believe in.

Let’s start with my history regarding spirituality and religion. I was never Christened/Baptized as a child. Neither was my older brother (the only sibling of mine that shares both parents blood). Though I know many, many people that do not practice religion, I’ve met very few that were not Christened when they were a baby or a young child. I know that this is due largely to the fact that a lot of people, despite their own beliefts, just think that it’s something that you’re supposed to do as a parent. I’ve also heard quite a few of my friends say that they Christened their child to make the grandparents happy. And then there are several other people that do it because it’s what they believe, and they want to raise their child with the same beliefs. Whatever your reason for doing (or not doing) this act is completely your own and should not be judged.

I’m not exactly sure why my parents decided not to Christen my brother or me. I don’t hold it against them, and respect their decision. I’ve heard my mother say that at the time, they both agreed that my brother and I should make the choice for ourselves as to what our religious beliefs would be when we were old enough to understand. They both also grew up in semi-strict religious households and I think were being a little bit rebellious.

I went to Sunday School at a Methodist church when I was a kid, during my pre-school and early elementary years. My mom would sometimes attend a church service while my brother and I were in Sunday school, but my dad never went. We would go to a service as a family on Christmas and Easter, and that was really it. Though I was exposed to church, and don’t hold any negative connections to it, I never really “got it.” Sunday school was social time- a place where I could play with my friends. And as a kid, I’ll admit that I hated having to wake up early on a Sunday.

After my parents’ divorce when I was in fifth grade, we never attended church again. My dad quickly got into a relationship with a woman that he married a few years later, and started going to church again. And this time he got really involved. They also have raised their two children “in the church.” I have mixed feelings about this. My dad never talks to me about his connection with religion and God, and I’m not sure if he goes because he wants to or because it’s something that’s important to my stepmom. It does kind of rub me the wrong way that he’s so involved with it now, and refused to go with us when I was a kid.

I went to a couple different churches with friends during my middle and high school years, just to see what was out there. Nothing felt right.

In college, I met a lot of Jewish friends and began to explore that religion a bit too. Still, it wasn’t for me. After years of trying to find where I “fit,” I decided that I didn’t need to define or categorize myself into one specific title or church.

Over the last several years, I’ve read a lot about Buddhist beliefs and practices, and for the first time- I feel like I have a connection with a specific religion/lifestyle. Still, I don’t want to categorize myself, because I am not Buddhist. I also relate to a lot of Quaker beliefs, and take ideas and morals from several different religious organizations.

Religion wasn’t really an issue when Greg and I got married last summer. We knew that we didn’t want to get married at a church, because neither of us had a connection to one. The vows that Greg and I spoke were actually traditional Buddhist wedding vows. We chose them because we related to them a lot and spoke of being kind to each other and the earth. Our wedding was at a vineyard, and one of our closest friends (Rob) became ordained so that he could officiate. Our ceremony was beautiful, and the words that Rob spoke, and the words that Greg and I spoke to each other, were very meaningful and powerful to us.

If I had to put a name on what I believe, I’d say that I’m spiritual and feel a deep connection to nature. I believe in a higher power- some sort of God, and I feel it often. I feel the most connection when I’m outside in the woods, or somewhere beautiful like a on top of a mountain or in the middle or a lake in Colorado and can just soak it all in. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel that there is some much higher power that has put this all together, and that I should stop and think about what is really important to me: family, health, being happy.

I don’t think that you have to go to church every Sunday or study the bible or pray before dinner to  be religious. I believe that it’s a very personal thing and that is why I rarely share my beliefs  on this topic with other people (of course I just shared it with all of you!).


23 Comments on “The Spiritual Connection”

  1. Religion is such a controversial issue even within religions. Sunni vs. Shiite, Catholic vs. Protestant. I think that people are entitled to believe what you want to believe. I know what I believe and I don’t apologize for my beliefs nor do I think anyone should (unless it involves murder, rape, etc). I’ve become more and more religious as I get older. I really like the Episcopal church: it’s pretty liberal, we don’t take the Bible literally, we welcome everyone regardless of faith, sexulality, race, etc. My entire family was raised Episcopalian even though two of my siblings are now atheists and my father is a deist. I respect everyone’s right to their beliefs (and hope they’ll do the same for me).

    Faith can happen overnight. Maybe your parent’s divorce sparked some need for him to find a meaning beyond this world. So maybe that’s why he started becoming more willing to go to church? I’m guessing that your father wants to respect your beliefs now which is why he doesn’t talk about his faith. It’s hard as a Christian to talk to a non Christian about Christianity unless the non Christian askes because Christians like myself respect people’s right to believe whatever.

    • Lauren says:

      I’m pretty sure that my dad isn’t really religious and just goes to church for other reasons. You’d really have to know my dad to get exactly what I mean…
      I have problems with any group of people (religious or otherwise) that don’t welcome people based on sexuality, race, etc. It’s good to know that there are many churches that are open-minded!

  2. This is a great post – thank you for sharing. I can very much relate to your stance on religion/spirituality. My mom’s side of the family is Jewish and my dad’s side is Catholic, but my parents didn’t raise my brother or me with any affiliations. They said they wanted us to choose for ourselves, which in retrospect, I very much appreciate. My husband’s family is Evangelical Christian (their entire lives revolve around it), but he’s rejected that over the last several years and that’s put a ton of strain on their relationship, and they’ve also never been very welcoming to me. So, when we got married this past year, we actually eloped and had a private ceremony so the day would be drama-free. We celebrated with family afterwards, and it was perfect for us. Low-key, no stress.

    I love that you incorporated Buddhist vows into your wedding. 🙂

    • Lauren says:

      Wow! I can imagine how stressful that must be on your husband- and how many issues that would cause with his family. I dated a guy for a year that was from a very strict Evangelical family. He was really open-minded (they were not) and it was never an issue between the two of us. He respected that I had different beliefs. But, his family did not. They would send me cards in the mail on a weekly basis saying that they were “praying for my salvation” and didn’t want to see me “in hell.” It was a real turn-off.
      I almost went to church with them once, just to do it, until they bragged about the “gay rehab” program that the church offered. It was to “cure gay people” and “make them straight.” That did it for me- I said I would never step foot in a place like that.

  3. Gil says:

    This is such an interesting post! I definitely identify with the lack of “fit”. Of course, I was raised in a super unconventional faith and I have mixed (but largely positive) feelings about that. (Funnily, I was also not Christened/Baptized…but for religious reasons!). I know that my religious upbringing has colored a lot of the ways I think about faith and has steered me away from being able to accept the beliefs of alot of the more mainstream religions. But overall I feel really grateful to have been raised in a faith that emphasizes expressing qualities like love, equality, health and harmony above all else.
    Incidentally, I’ve always heard that your dad had an extreme aversion to his religious upbringing…maybe he needed some time to find his “fit”.

    • Lauren says:

      Yes- your family’s religion is definitely unique, I have to say! I didn’t realize that you weren’t Christened!
      Even though my dad goes to church, he seems to have no interest in religion. I’ve never ever heard him talk about it. I don’t know if he just keeps it to himself or really just isn’t into it.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Oddly the first thing that came to mind was Amen to that. I totally agree and am happy to know that other people feel similiarly to me. Having moved from the US where I know so many people who identify with a religion and a particular church to the UK where the number of people who go to church is really dwindiling, I wonder if more people are disillusioned with church and what it stands for. I have a close friend who is born again, and it has really put a wedge between us over the years and I find it really alien. I have also looked into buddhism to understand it and like the message, but still don’t feel a pull there either. I like the spirtuality, but still haven’t found a fit.

    • Lauren says:

      I think that MOST born-again people are just a bit too pushy. Not ALL of them, but from what I’ve encountered, they tend to not respect others’ beliefs or remember their “former” life at all. That just puts a bad taste in my mouth.

  5. What a great post! I found myself nodding in agreement with many of your thoughts. I was raised in the Catholic church & went to Catholic school through 5th grade. I was baptized, confirmed, etc. in the Catholic church. While my church in particular was quite liberal (fund-raising events involving drinking a TON of beer on church grounds were & are still the norm), I found myself disagreeing with SO many Catholic “rules” in my adult life that I basically just attend services when my mother requests that I do so. And I am totally fine with that.
    I believe in a higher power, but have yet to determine what I truly think that higher power is. I consider myself a spiritual person & I too, have my moments where I feel closer to that power. For now I am content with my beliefs but I sometimes think that when I have children, I will feel the need to bring them up in a church. Only time will tell, I suppose!

  6. Great post, spirituality is something that is different to all of us, something that allows us to feel a connection with others but at the same time makes us feel like an individual since we live in a country where we can believe whatever we want. My husband and I have this talk often, we are both catholics however have found that since our wedding we’ve turned into the Christmas/Easter couple. Now we’re trying to decide exactly what we believe to help our future for when we have kids and such.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Lauren says:

      It is definitely a wonderful thing that we all DO have freedom of religion. I can’t imagine living a life where you are forced into a set of beliefs!

  7. I believe that we were born as spiritual beings (we were spirits before coming here to receive an earthly body), and I know that we’ll live on after this life as well (yah!!). Knowing who God is, and what Jesus Christ has done for me means SO much to me! And truly makes me SO happy. And yes, we all have that connection with spirituality because that is how we were created! Cool, eh?! Because God and Jesus created this world, we feel that connection when we’re in nature, just like you said! I love that too–so amazing. The same goes with the human body–I strongly believe that only God could’ve created such an amazing system!! (My dad is a surgeon, and he says this all.the.time! heh)

    I go to church every Sunday, but everyone needs to find out for themselves where they feel best! Great post 🙂

    • Lauren says:

      I was definitely interested to hear your opinion, since our beliefs are very different. I think that the most important thing is that you have found what is right for YOU and makes you happy! And if you feel “right” in the church, that is great!

  8. the older I get, the more athesists I’ve become friends with. I actually believe like you do, something spiritual that guides us and for us to lead a good life.

  9. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! says:

    Great post, lover. I agree, religion and spirituality is a hugely personal thing, and I commend you for being so open about your history with it, while remaining so thoroughly nonjudgmental! 🙂 I was raised “in the church”, so to speak, and still identify as a Christian, but don’t really consider myself a “religious” person. I go to church on occasion when my parents ask me to go with them (and we always go as a family on Easter + Christmas), I sing in the choir sometimes, and it’s family tradition for us to say grace before dinner when I’m eating at my parents. I think for me, my siblings, and even my father to a certain extent, it all really comes from a place of tradition and nostalgia rather than the religious aspect. For my mom, it’s different — she is really ingrained in her faith (she converted to Christianity when she married my dad) and I respect her for having such a passionate faith even though I don’t always agree with her views. I love it when people can have an open discussion about faith without being overly zealous in any direction (and that includes holier-than-thou Christians and atheists alike!)

    Brave of you to dive into this!

    • Lauren says:

      I was a little nervous about posting about this at all- it’s just something that I don’t like to talk about with people (just like politics) unless I know that we are on the same page. It’s comforting to know that a lot of people ARE on the same page as me, or all have different beliefs! I definitely have respect and admiration for people of all religious faiths, even if I don’t necessarily agree with or relate to it.

  10. Michelle says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I grew up in a Christian home and have been pretty much surrounded by people who share similar beliefs my whole life: family, friends, the more conservative community I grew up in, the Midwest in general, so I enjoy learning about others’ experiences. Still to this day, my faith is the most important part of my life, and I want everyone to see how wonderful Christianity is, but unfortunately Evangelical Christians have a bad reputation for being so ‘in your face’ about their faith, so I always hesitate to talk about church too much.

    • Lauren says:

      If you see my comment above to Amanda, I touched on my experience with the Evangelical faith. Of course, I realize that other churches might be different- but my experience was very negative.
      Feel free to talk about what you want! I think it’s great to be honest and open about your beliefs. People just get turned off when they think you’re “pushing it on them” or not respecting their beliefs, which unfortunately can happen often.

  11. Lee says:

    My beliefs are, wait for it, pretty much the exact same as yours. Shocking, I know.

    Both of my parents are Jewish. I went to Hebrew school (Saturday mornings and Tuesday nights) from about age 9-12. I think my mom felt like it was the right thing to do and she wanted me to have a Bat Mitzvah. Well, that didn’t happen because I decided that I didn’t want to go anymore at age 12. I don’t really remember how it went down or if my mom put up a fight when I said I wasn’t going anymore. My dad was never religious at all and married a woman who was technically Christian but also not religious.

    Jason, however, was raised in the church, although he (and his parents) are now agnostic. We do have some differing opinions on how we’ll raise our children, if we have them. Mine is that we’ll celebrate the holidays from both religions but not much else (which is what we do now basically) but he’s worried that if our child grows up without church, he’ll feel left out. I think this is more a part of Jason growing up in a small Southern town though.

    Ooops, I just rambled on about me for far too long!

    • Lauren says:

      Feel free to ramble! I love it! It’s like talking to myself. 🙂
      I think it’s great that you guys celebrate holidays for both religions. Even if you’re not “religious,” it’s still nice to have traditions.

I love hearing your feedback! Feel free to leave a comment. :)

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