Tuesday, July 31, 2007

7/20/2006 - 'Cause 'Ya Gotta Have Faith

I just totally hi-jacked the comments at Her Bad Mother after reading her post on deciding how and whether to take to an organized faith now that you are a parent. So I am cheating by now making it a post of my own.

I think alot of people struggle with this issue. You want to set a good example, but you dont want to be a hypocrite. Yet faith isnt something you are born with, like green eyes. It has to be nutured by example and practice, tempered with, of course, the leaps of faith. The leaps are the whole essence of it, after all. Believing in something you cant see. Trusting something that doesnt give you a written guarantee.

We are going the same route our parents did with us. Baptised Catholics, Sunday mass, and the sacraments as they come along in age order. Do I demand that my kids be Catholic? No. I hope they explore and question and challenge their faith and find one that really speaks to them, works for them. But I dont think you can just leave this to chance and hope they wake up one day with a burning desire to seek the higher power. Like everything else good, you must teach them.

Here is what I said at HBM. First, my husband and I want our kids to have good manners so we practice good manners around them. We want them to have better eating habits than we do so we feed them good, healthy nutritious stuff. We want them to enjoy exercise so we are trying to do fun things that are also exercise. We hope they want will play an instrument some day so we expose them to music. We want them to appreciate nature and respect the earth so we are teaching them about animals and plants and the sun and the ocean. We want them to be emotionally healthy so we show them healthy ways to express themselves and give them lots of love and attention. We hope they will be happily married/partnered some day so we try to be good examples in our marriage.

Not breaking any new parenting ground here. So, I don’t understand the idea of exposing kids to everything else good, for their own good, but hoping they can wing the faith thing on their own. They need exposure and examples of faith so they have some foundation on which to build their own beliefs and practices some day.

Second point, this is about me and my faith now. Back when I was young and single and had free time, I wanted to be thin and fit. I thought about joining a gym. But I hated the idea of organized gym classes and the whole gym mentality. I knew I would feel like an outsider and I didn’t want to be the “fattest fat chick” at the gym. I just knew everyone would be so brainwashed on their exercise high and carb-free and would know what they are doing and I would just get my shoelace caught in the treadmill and fly through the full length mirror. I hated the gym groupies and the steroid dudes slamming their free weights around, and the lycra fake-bake girls who come dressed to work out but really just spend the whole time flirting with the trainers and flipping their hair in the mirror, when they weren’t looking down their nose at my big ass-covering t-shirts and faded black leggings.

Did I have a few prejudiced notions? Yep. So I tried going it alone. I bought fitness tapes and new sneakers. And they gathered dust. And I gathered more thigh mass. I still wanted to be fit. So I swallowed my pride and joined a gym. Not the fancy “in” gym, but a family one, with fat people and old people. I still hated getting my ass up to go, but after a few weeks I started to see progress. I started to enjoy what I was doing and stopped feeling like the newbie. I kept at it. I never got thin, but I did get much more fit. I needed the motivation of the gym commitment to keep me going. And the regular practice made me a believer.

If walked into a gym and worked out one time and said ‘I am not fit. I don’t like those people. Exercise is bullshit.” you would say “You need to keep at it. You need to stay motivated. It doesn’t happen instantly.” It’s the same way for me with faith. I don’t love everything about my (Catholic) church. But after years of being expected to go with my family, then years of making myself go as an adult, alot of good stuff has worked its way through my muddled head. The exposure to the sacraments, the homilies, the people, has moved me, angered me, and challenged me. None of which I would have gotten sitting home on my ass waiting for the Holy Spirit to appear.

The best advice my mother gave me was one someone else gave her “If you want to be holy, start by doing what holy people do.” I think that applies to alot more than just faith.
Posted by Michele at 7/20/2006 11:29:00 AM

Sharpie said...
Speaking as a converted Catholic as an adult - I converted at 24 - and having grown up with absolutely no guidance - my parents were the "they can become what they want when they want, we'll only baptize them" type - I totally push my kids to participate. I always felt lost and felt as if I did not belong and I didn't know the big secret everyone else already knew.I am giving them some guidance - if they choose a different path later on in life - so be it.
Jul 20, 2006 2:03:00 PM
Her Bad Mother said...
I'm so glad that you wrote this (tho' I totally don't mind having my comments hijacked!)It *is* all about what you model for your children. Living well, in the highest sense. Well said.
Jul 20, 2006 8:49:00 PM

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