I grew up in a very religious household. I knew all of the books in both the Old and New Testaments, prayed every night and before each meal, and went to church every Sunday.
When I turned eighteen, I questioned my personal beliefs and those I had grown up with and found, at that time, that they were incongruous and would no doubt remain that way. While the jury is still out with me as far as what religion, if any, I believe in, one thing I know is that I will be teaching my children the Bible stories when I feel they are old enough.
Somewhere, my late father, who was the most devout in our family, is smiling.
I sat and thought about the Bible and religion for a long time when my son was born. Hundreds of thoughts swirled around in my head. Here are just a few:
Bible stories were a HUGE part of my childhood.
I knew Jonah and the Whale, and Daniel and the Lion’s Den as well as I knew Phantom Tollbooth and James and the Giant Peach. I fully plan on sharing Tollbooth and James with them, why wouldn’t I share ALL of the stories that shaped my childhood?
2. The iconography of the Old and New Testaments are EVERYWHERE.
How many times have you seen baby blankets for sale with Noah’s Arc at Toys R Us? A store with no religious ties whatsoever, as far as I know, but it still sells products based off of a religious story. I want to give my kids a leg up on the symbols that will surround them their entire life. Also, Christmas? Easter? Passover? Hanukkah? All things I want my kids understanding the meanings of. I wonder how many kids pass plastic mangers at Christmas time and even understand what they’re looking at. I feel like our kids need to know where their traditions come from as much as they do where their food comes from.
And lastly, and this is the big one,
I want my kids to have understanding. One term that makes me absolutely cringe is “religious nut”.
I used to be religious. I know the feeling of peace and calm from believing in something bigger than yourself. I remember the easy sleep that comes from knowing that someone has a bigger plan for you and that things, whether for good or bad, are part of a huge intricate pattern already planned out for your life. I understand many people have found peace in religion. I love and admire so many of those people to this day.
Although my comfort is found elsewhere nowadays, I want my children to have what I had: The stories, and the religious knowledge. I want them to be able to understand why people attend church, pray, and tell and retell these stories. I don’t want my children to grow up fearing those who are religious or making unfair assumptions simply because of things they overhear.
Some of my best friends never drink beer, never swear and attend some form of spiritual service every Sunday.
Some of my best friends have never stepped foot in a church, swear, have tattoos, have tattoos of swear words and know how to mix drinks better than Tom Cruise in “Cocktail”.
My life is as wonderful as it is because of both sets of friends.
I want my kids to have as wonderful a life as I have and understand that we’re all trying to make sense of this crazy, existence we’ve all been given, no matter what our religious beliefs may be.