My husband is seeking a 12-step program for me because of my growing dependency on the website ancestry.com. Is it bad when your spouse has to tell you to go to sleep but you can’t because you have about 50 more military records to go through which outline your dad’s military service? This deep fascination with my ancestors has been ongoing throughout my life, possibly because I come from a very small family. My father was an only child and my mother’s only sister died when she was young so I didn’t have any aunts or uncles or cousins. From what I have learned from people with very large families, I may have had it pretty good. But to be truthful, I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding with the envy of someone who ordered a salad when their friend got the burger and fries.
Not only was my family small, but I also didn’t grow up in a religious household. My mom had been raised Catholic, so Catholic that even though she doesn’t attend church anymore, she still feels guilty about something. (“I may have caused the recession- I had been shopping less.”) My dad claimed to be agnostic but unless God appeared on the football field at college games on Saturday, my dad would have missed him. (Or maybe if Christ was co-starting in a movie with John Wayne.) So, I did not attend church much as a kid.
I admit that I had an interest in God and the spiritual world from a young age. In high school, I would accompany friends and their families to church to see which one may fit me. I was not like Cinderella because Cinderlla knew she lost her glass slipper while she was trying it on; I was more like Ariel who was so desperate to know about the world beyond her own that she would comb her hair with a fork.
While living in Las Vegas, my life turned away from things spiritual. I call those years: Bacchanalia. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I began to think about God again. Mark was raised in a Lutheran house where the rule was, “I don’t care what you did on Saturday night, your ass had better bein that pew on Sunday morning.” He had tried on different churches in his twenties, some fitting, some not, but Mark knew that he wanted to raise his kids in a church. But I made it complicated as hell for us to agree on a church.
You see, the years of school and secular learning made me question every church we went to and to subsequently leave if they disagreed with a fundamental belief I held. “What’s that? Women can’t hold positions in your church because you say Christ had no female disciples? I think we will pass on this church and find some place less scared of vaginas.” “Oh, you think being gay is wrong? You even have a program that ‘cures’ homosexuality? Well, you get neither my time nor tithe.” “So there is no questioning the Bible or the pastor’s teachings? Do you feel the disciples were a bit mouthy to ask Christ so many questions?”
The church we attend we actually found on a whim. Our daughter was a couple of months old and I saw that this church had a short service on Sundays for people with small kids and adults with a short attention span. That’s a win-win in my book. But as we started attending, I felt this church was different. The coffee hour chat after service centered more on diapers than psalms. There was no bombardment of personal questions about our beliefs. Better yet, as we continued attending and my questions about what it means to be a Christian bordered on the non Christian side (for example, can one believe in reincarnation and still be a Christian?), my queries were welcomed.
The core beliefs I needed in a church are there. It is a church that welcomes new ideas and people. It is filled with strong women in positive roles. It is accepting of all people, no matter where they are on their journey. I have since realized that my church is my own My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with significantly less roasted lamb. There are crazy aunts (you know who you are) and a few patriarchs who like the status quo but are open to new ideas. There are new members coming in and older members helping to lead the way. That is the real win-win situation in my mind.
And to this, I say: Opa!