Our children are like diamonds: beautiful, multifaceted diamonds. The sparkle that they radiate is completely dependent upon the light that shines through them. At this stage of their development, I am that primary light. I’ve been thinking about that lately as it relates to the light that my parents shined in me. They were my light. At some point, though, I shifted my position, and my angles refracted from a completely different perspective. Same diamond, same sparkle, different angle. This sums up how I perceived my spiritual growth, and how I will approach my boys regarding their developing spirituality.
My introduction to spirituality was deliberate and decisive: in my parents’ home, I was raised Christian. My parents were born-again Christians. My grandfather was a pastor. I was in church every Sunday, and I loved being a part of it. I loved the humanity within all that we did: feeding the homeless, international mission trips, volunteering and tithing to local charities. It all made sense; living godly was what I was supposed to do, and it felt right. I didn’t steal. I was kind to others. I connected with my community. I prayed before meals, and I knew to never, EVER use God’s name in vain; that was worse than some present-day four-letter words.
As I got older, I started seeing my religion differently. I’m not sure if I changed, or if the message changed. Maybe the message got watered down somewhere down the line. But the humanity I embraced as a child slowly started to fall into the shadows of things I didn’t believe. I was very passionate about civil liberties, especially same-sex rights, and that seemed to clash with church and religious principles I was taught to believe. That started to happen more and more frequently. Though my definition of spirituality never waivered, I started falling away from the things that felt less and less like what I believed God to be. I continued to pray, and do the good things I was taught. But something about the organized realm of religion began to feel like shackles. I decided to leave the church and remain connected directly to the source myself.
So what does this have to do with my children? Well, I still believe in the strong moral base that my parents taught me, and I do my best to provide that same foundation for my boys. I continue to pray with them before our meals. I raise them to want to do good for others. I teach them to be charitable and give to others, especially the less fortunate. I hope my children hold onto those spiritual values, but I want them to love, respect and stand up for everyone. I want them to be loving to all people and to believe in something greater than themselves, whatever they need that to be. I have a very solid belief in a higher power, and I will encourage my boys to look within themselves to find a source beyond and stronger than themselves, also.
So if my kids connect to Christianity, that will be their choice. If they decide they want to be Jewish, okay. If they want to meditate by the ocean on a certain day and connect with that experience, so be it. Whatever they decide is fine, but I will be disappointed if they don’t have some type of connection with a greater spiritual source. That pivotal experience provided a guiding light that I still depend on today, and I wouldn’t want to take that chance away from them.
Have you made the decision to raise your kids in a particular religion? Why or why not?