I grew up in a Christian household.
Super conservative Christian, you ask? Well, kind of. My family is Roman Catholic. For my own reasons, I am now not a religious person. What was it like, you ask? Excessively pious? Were people sprinkling holy water everywhere?
Uh, actually, yes, my mom did sprinkle a fair amount of holy water on us. When we were teenagers, before we left to drive somewhere, she’d dip her fingers into a holy water basin and cross our foreheads with it. I was sixteen. You can imagine the embarrassment, and the whining. There was a lot of whining.
It wasn’t holier-than-thou, though, and for that I’ll always be grateful. My parents have always been pretty moderate Catholics. I grew up in an environment where I wasn’t afraid to talk about difficult things, or things that our religion didn’t believe. I did end up learning a lot, and I wouldn’t change that. Here are some of the most important things that living in a religious family taught me.
Sometimes, routine is important.
I’m a lazy person. When I was a kid, I was a lazy kid. But being Catholic, I knew one thing was a reality: Mass on Sunday. Always at 11:30 am. No matter how much you whined, you were going. I remember crying to my mom one time, asking why humans had to have commitments. She told me that it was the reality of life, and the world ran on routine whether we liked it or not.
While I do not go to mass anymore, it, like school, taught me obligation, and human responsibility. My parents let me choose whether I wanted to go when I got older. Even though I stopped, I still appreciate the structured weekend it gave me.
Community can be unifying, as well as isolating.
I made plenty of friends simply through belonging to the church. Our parents knew each other, and we’d have playdates, or see each other at parish events. As a shy kid, it was reassuring to have these kinds of friends to fall back on. This aspect of the church community was responsible for me being an adequately socialized human being.
However, if you didn’t agree with everyone else on certain moral standpoints, it could feel very lonely. For me, a young and confused teenager, spending time in youth group was very difficult. I had plenty of questions about my beliefs, but since it seemed like everyone was agreeing on everything, and they were all on Christianity’s side of things, I couldn’t make my voice heard. Maybe everyone was hiding their questions and going along with the group mentality like I was. It was, after all, the age where fitting in was the most important thing in our small worlds.
Like I said before, it was a formative time for me, and while I don’t agree with everything I learned from back then, it taught me important lessons about life. I probably won’t raise my children as religious (unless they request to go to mass), but I’ll be sure to provide them with activities that’ll teach them about the world. I wouldn’t have admitted it back then, but it was instrumental in making me the person I am today.