It was a chilly Sunday morning. My husband and I were dressed in our Sunday bests. Our little girl was sporting an adorable butterfly dress with a matching floral headband. We gathered in the car and headed off to our first church experience as a new family. Twenty minutes in to the service, however, we were packing up our things and heading out the door.
Every mother has been there. The ticker clicks away a countdown for when the baby will start to fuss. Whimpers may escalate into wails and a mom must choose between being stared at and possibly criticized, or does she head for the nearest exit. Being a new mom with a baby, I know this feeing all too well. In this scenario, however, this was not the case. Our daughter was the reason we decided to stand up in the middle of the Sermon, but not because she was bothersome or being difficult. As a matter of fact, our little baby was amazing for her first church experience.
Our little one had been extremely cranky the whole week before church, so to our surprise, she was happy and giggly when we arrived. She stared in awe at the architecture of the old building and even listened intensively as the readers voices echoed throughout the building. She was completely mesmerized by the music of the organ. She let out a few giggles and shouts of delight, and even fell asleep once she was given her bottle.
So why did we leave?
Although I hold strong to my faith to God, I do not necessarily understand some of the impressions of the Catholic Religion. I do not wish to get into the debate of right verses wrong and I am not trying to criticize those who are dedicated to their faith and religion. I do not judge others for the lives they live or the choices they make because that is for God, nor do I dwell in the business of others because it is not my business to do so. I support everyone no matter what religion they do or don’t follow, who they are, who they love, the opinions that have, and the choices they make. All that matters to me is if a person is genuine, honorable, and selfless. These are the values I hold dear to my heart and the values I hope to pass on to my children.
I have always loved and adored the traditions of the Catholic Church. The celebration of the sacraments, the readings of the Gospel, the spirituality and love for God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, and the Sunday teachings to children. My most favorite is the message delivered in connection to the Gospel. Words that inspire and move. A bridge that is built between God and his people through the expressions written from the Bible. These words deciphered to us with the help of Gods faithful servant.
My hope is that my little girl grows up to build her own relationship with God, whatever way that may be. I hope she falls in love with him they way I did, I hope her faith is strong when times get tough, and I pray that she finds Him when she loses her way. As her parent, I have chosen the Catholic religion for her as a stepping stone, more or less a guide. Like me, she has been Baptized, and she will receive her Confirmation and Communion. Where she continues her journey as she grows is completely up to her.
So, when my little family set out to find a church that my daughter would grow up in, I was heart broken by the message that was delivered in the presence of my little girl. A message spoken from an organization that I had loved so dearly. A body that I had hoped to share with my daughter. Ideals of love and faith, joy and pain, understanding and acceptance. These ideals were broken apart in a negative message and my soul hurt.
Testimonials were thrown around by a consequential member of the church. Words and thoughts that clashed against my own values that I could not ignore. Bystanders were judged and criticized by representatives of God and Christ. Peoples life styles were ridiculed, and their professions were mocked out of spite and anger. Messages delivered from hate, not love or faith. Messages that I did not want my child to absorb, so we left.
My daughter is too young to have understood the dialogue, but it was important for me, as a mother, to be an example. By getting up and leaving, I showed that hate and judgement will not be tolerated. I stood up for a set of values that I hope I continue to cherish as my child grows, regardless of what ever religion she chooses to or not to follow. Values that I hope will someday become a part of the woman she grows up to be; Ethics that I hope she vigorously defends.
I was hurt, and I was angry by the representation presented by this Church. I desperately wanted my daughter to fall in love with God like I had, but how could she when she sat in a room full of hate. It was not the impression I wanted her to form. I did not give up.
Our search continued and since then, we have found a Church that was welcoming and that shared a positive message. A Catholic Church that revolved around the diversity of Gods children, and still held the old traditions. A church revolved around acceptance, hope, love, and faith. A church that welcomed us in with open arms, church goers who were non-bias and who represented all different backgrounds and stories. A church that I will be proud to raise my daughter in.
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