Growing Up Without Religion

When I tell people I grew up in the mid-west but never went to church, they are often surprised.

Honestly, I remember walking through church doors twice during childhood. First with a friend after a sleepover in sixth grade, and second with my Grandmother to an Easter service about a year later.

The experiences were very different.

The sleepover friend was Catholic, we entered a large ornate church and sat in the balcony among rows of her family and friends.

My only memory has nothing to do with the church service itself, but rather her Aunt tapping us on the shoulder with a long red manicured fingernail while using the other to cross her lips with a shhhhhh. It seemed we were giggling too much.

Forward to the other memory of a visit further south to my Dad’s parents. My family made the drive to Kentucky three times a year.

My Grandmother wasn’t exactly a church going woman but she’d hit the important holidays, always a Baptist church. It was her upbringing.

That Easter was the first and only time I ever went with her.

The congregation sang and spoke out with the word hallelujah countless times. A number of people dressed in white robes, climbed into tubs of water to be dunked and accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

I didn’t know what to make of it. I’d never seen anything like it before.

My family didn’t talk about God, Jesus or anything having to do with the history of Christianity. It wasn’t like my parents spoke out against religion. Religion was just a void. Almost non existent in my secular public school rearing. Christmas was truly only about Santa Claus.

As a young adult, I married into a Catholic family and started to regularly attend Sunday mass.

Wow, in the beginning I couldn’t believe that I might actually become religious. It was truly an area of mystery in my mind. Like a new world I knew nothing about but wanted to explore.

I shied away from religious discussion, though. Mostly because I was a little embarrassed of my dim knowledge and by nature I would rather listen than speak.

I found the Sunday messages engaging, an interesting look at something that had always peaked my curiosity. For some time, I enjoyed the readings and soaked in the historical aspects of the Church’s teachings. Even though I found the “rules” somewhat bazaar.

I remember going to a mandatory class before my newborn son’s baptism. The Deacon posed the question. “Why do we baptize our infant children?” The correct answer had to do with remission of original sin. However, my answer sounded more like, “Because you tell us we have to.”

Eventually, I had a true problem with much of the dogma associated with the faith.

I was rather disappointed, I thought maybe I wasn’t cut out to have a spiritual base after all. Until I realized something. I was hung on the idea that you had to be religious to be spiritual. For some reason I believed spirituality depended upon religion. I was wrong. Eventually, I came to settle on the idea that the two are separate.

I realized religion was not my path to spirituality. Yet I longed to have a spiritual foundation. I needed a place to hang my spiritual hat, which led me on a quest to find out just where I stood on religion and spirituality.

“Your first task is to find the place where your soul is at home.”
― Thomas Moore, A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World

I discovered paths to spirituality come in copious form: meditation, yoga, science, walking in nature, listening to music, or creating art to name a few.

“You look until you see nothing tangible, and that is God.”
― Thomas Moore, A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World

I’ve found my spiritual home in Religious Science. I’m finally happy within my beliefs and about the journey I took to get here.

I see God everywhere in architecture, in craft, and in literature. I see God in nature’s grandeur, the mountains, the rocks and the sea. I also see God in every single living being. God is Intelligence and God is Infinite.

This article is not anti-religion. I’m actually strongly in favor, if religion is your path to spirituality.

Here is what I hope you take away from reading this article: With spirituality (as with everything) you have the ability to think, learn, discover, and consider your feelings. Then, make decisions about your own spiritual beliefs.

I’m glad I grew up without religion because it was the best way for me to find faith for myself.

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