Thursday, September 4, 2008

Waiting to be let in on the secret.

As a child and pre-teen I attended the church that my grandparents went to. My parents were not very religious and did not attend church regularly, but my grandparents thought it was important. As a kid I enjoyed Sunday school because there were sweet treats for breakfast, we got to color and someone would read us a story. I knew all the songs (This Little Light of Mine, Rise and Shine, Jesus Loves Me, etc). At this point I knew the answers people wanted to hear when I was asked about god and the bible. As I got older the decision of whether to attend was left up to me. I continued so that I could socialize with friends and participate in the activities that the church provided: like singing in the choir, watching the kids in the nursery during services, lock-ins/outs and sleep away camp. And you can‘t forget the free lunches out that my grandfather would provide every Sunday if I went.

Sometime around the age of 8 or 9 it was finally revealed that there was no Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. I had been given strict instructions not to ruin the fun for my younger brother and cousins. Being a good little girl, I kept this secret to myself and played along with the charade. At this same time, I was becoming more aware of the meaning behind the stories that were being told to us at church. You know, the ones about the all knowing god who sees everything you do, the punishment or reward that comes because of specific behavior, someone coming back from the dead, 2 of every animal in the world fitting onto a boat, someone living in the stomach of a whale, pray and Momma Gran will get better, it thunders because god is angry, you will see your friend in heaven when you die...

It wasn't until I was 11 or 12 that I began to wonder "When is someone going to let me in on this secret?" I had done such a great job of keeping the others; Why were people still insisting that God was real? Surely soon someone would sit me down and explain how the stories about God are something that we tell kids are real before they can understand how things really work. That sometimes people just get sick, that when someone dies they are gone forever, that punishments and rewards come as natural consequences of actions and from other people, and that sometimes you really are alone.

I waited for a couple of years for someone say those things, but it never happened. I would sometimes ask probing questions to see if I could get someone to slip. A couple of times I asked straight out "Is God Real?" and received answers like "of course honey.” I often wondered if they said that because they thought it was what I wanted to hear or if they thought the question was so silly that it didn't deserve an actual answer.

Eventually, I stopped going to church because it wasn't fun anymore. I found other ways to spend time with friend and do things I enjoyed by joining chorus at school, babysitting and volunteering at the rec center summer camp. My family occasionally inquired about going to church and I usually just dodged the question. At this point, I don’t think there ever really was a god, but I never really thought about it.

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