Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Authenticity

Calista shared a conversation she had with her friends today about religion.  She was a little confused that her friends got so upset when she told them she doesn't believe in heaven or hell, and she was somewhat taken back by the place of fear that they were coming from.  She told me she didn't think 10, 11, and 12 year olds should have to worry about such things.  She feels like everyone thinks they know everything and they REALLY don't and no matter how much you contemplate such things you will not KNOW the answers.  She feels like everyone should just stop trying so hard to find the answers and just LIVE.  I listened with open ears and an open heart.  One thing that struck me is that her beliefs on religion and God are somewhat different than mine and that's what really started me contemplating tonight.

Most children who come from a Christian background believe what they believe because that is what they have been taught to believe.  They don't even know how to make their own opinions about their beliefs because they've never been given that option.  I was told by a pastor one time that 80% of Christians became Christians as children.  80%!!!  What that tells me is that 80% of Christians don't hold their own beliefs but rather have been brainwashed to believe that.  That's just astounding to me!  And it always seems to come back to this thing they call hell, and the fear of it.  I lived most of my life, well into adulthood, living in that same fear and I'm so thankful to be free from it!!  I'm even more thankful that I'm raising my own children with that sense of freedom and that they will never have some of the same silly hang-ups that I have spent the last 8 years releasing myself from.

I have my own spiritual practices and they are different than every single one of my children, for my children hold their own opinions and have come to their separate beliefs on their own.  I would never dream of getting in their way or trying to sway them to believe one way or the other.

At the end of the conversation she said, "Mom, if I was going to be any religion I would be Pagan because it makes me feel good and I love doing rituals."  It made my heart smile that she is being authentic to who she is and what is speaking to her.  That is what I want for my children in all aspects of their life, that is my goal as I continue to raise my children in freedom; that they will be completely authentic and true to themselves.

15 comments:

Lani said...

That's my girl. :-) <3 much love and many hugs to you both.

Sylvia said...

sweet. My kids, too, have different religious/philosophical beliefs from mine, each his very own.

It's been 8 years since I left the church of my childhood (tho I'd only been committed to it in adulthood) and my current spiritual journey continues to take me to places I could never have imagined. I agree with Calista -- no matter how much we think we know, there is no way we knot IT ALL.

Shady Lady said...

Oh, I just. Love this post! I am proud to give my daughter the same freedom to choose.

Ren said...

I love that as sisters, our journey has been similar, if not timed differently. All of us have found the freedom of living outside of the boundaries of guilt and prison-like thinking. What a relief to face life with the open heart of a seeker and not the heavy heart of the religious.

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Danielle said...

Just out of curiosity, who is Pagan that she has been doing rituals with? If it is you, her mother, than I don't really see how much different her story is than any child that enjoys their parents culture (choices modeled, spirituality, self boundaries and such) that is being fostered around their children. Either way, I'm glad you are happy about how great a job you are doing raising your children. I feel the same about my journey with mine. The doubts creep in at times, but it's good to see a positive attitude when so many out there are down on their journey and unsure.

Snavleys said...

Actually, Danielle, it's not me that she is doing these rituals with, it is a friend of mine. Calista has asked on several occasions to join in on these rituals, in which my friend has always been happy to share. We try very hard not to push our opinions and beliefs on our children but show them lots of options and let them decide. I think it's healthy to have family traditions, cultures and such modeled and shared in. In many families these are shared and practiced without any choice in the matter and the child is taught that they are the BEST ways or the only RIGHT ways to do things- that's indoctrination. I want my children to make those choices for themselves. All three of my children have very different views on religion and spirituality. This happens to be a sensitive subject for me because I was indoctrinated when I was young and not given a choice how I believed. It took me until I was 30 years old to question whether those were my beliefs or ones I had "inherited". I chose a different path. Thanks for your comment:) I think we all do the best we can do. I think the most important thing is to keep a healthy, close relationship with our kids that allows us to be their soft place to land and keeps the communication lines wide open.

Danielle said...

Thanks for the clarification. :o) Keep on loving your kids with all you got, momma! I'll do the same!

Heather G. said...

I think you underestimate the character of that 80%. I was raised Christian from birth, was baptized when I was a little younger than 10 (I think? I don't quite remember) and for years struggled with big questions like, "If every religion says theirs is the only right one, how do we know?" and "Is it brainwashing to raise a kid according to your own beliefs? If so, then doesn't every parent 'brainwash' their child in some way?" At that time, I was around the 10, 11, and 12 year range. Then I came back to God, and I'm sure a great percentage of that 80% did the same thing, because doubt and asking questions is human nature, and the answers I found, and the answers I didn't find, all pointed towards simple, pure Christianity. I'm not trying to say that you're completely wrong, and I'm not trying to offend you and your family, but I did sense a certain (perhaps unconscious?) small amount of anti-Christian sentiment in this blog post, and I just want to show you that we're not brainwashers, we don't all come from a place of fear (that would be the Southern Baptists and Catholics that like to preach about fire and brimstone) but that we try to live in love. In that vein, I'd like to ask your permission to pray for your family and your pagan friend, if I may?

Snavleys said...

Yes Heather, you most definitely sensed an anti-religious sentiment. I am not a big fan of religion for a myriad of reasons. I didn't leave religion on a whim. I left after much questioning, contemplating, researching, self-exploration, etc. I had 30 years of experience being a Christian so it's not like I'm coming at it in ignorance. I know the bible better than most Christians.

Sure, parents have some INFLUENCE on children, just by living in close quarters BUT there is a big difference between influence and indoctrination. Were you allowed to attend churches of other religions besides the one your parents attended? Were you allowed to skip attendance of church? Were you allowed to express an opinion that was different without being told you were wrong? Were you taught that Christianity was the only way to heaven? If you answered yes to any of these questions then it was indoctrination not just simple influence. My kids have autonomy- the ability to make all those choices on their own. I choose to explore my spirituality through yoga. I meditate and I attend Kirtan at a local yoga studio. I even teach yoga. Only one other member of the family has chosen to dabble in it as well. All my kids have vastly different views on religion. We discuss the subject at great length, quite often, and everyone listens to other's opinions without convincing them that they are wrong.

I know VERY FEW religious people who don't follow the religion that they were taught as a child in some shape or form.

I have found absolutely ZERO correlation between what religion a person is in or not in and how good a person is. I have found mostly that the most gentle, kind, loving people that I know personally are NOT Christians. I think most people live their lives trying to come from a place of love. I'm talking about indoctrination-Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology (see doctrine).[1] It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned.

As far as asking permission to pray for me- the question bothers me for two big reasons. The first reason is, why do you feel like you need to ask me permission? As far as I know this is a free country and you can pray whenever, wherever, however and for whoever you want. The second reason is that the question implies that my friend and I NEED to be prayed for because somehow I'm not living the kind of religious life that you think I'm supposed to, which is one of the hundreds of reasons I don't care for religion. I have more peace and joy since I left religion than I ever did when I was religious. I felt more like a prisoner before and now I feel very liberated and free.

Everyone is free to choose to live the way that feels good and authentic to them. I choose to not be affiliated with religion.

Heather G. said...

Well, I'm sorry you feel that way. I won't bother you further.

-Heather

Ren said...

Why would you be sorry for how someone feels unless you do indeed believe they are somehow "wrong" or misled in their beliefs. Just the simple act of being sorry for someone who is confident and happy where they are at in their spiritual journey implies self-righteousness....add that to the list of reasons I dislike religion also.

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