We all have a spiritual history. Awareness of our history—experiences, stories, defaults, blindspots–allows us to be fair with the important children in our lives.
A personal example–one of my blindspots
My spiritual history contains a chapter of my life in which I insisted on getting people to agree with my religious perspective. I felt responsible for their faith decisions.
My shift from ignorance to awareness
I don’t recall when or how I shifted from ignorance to awareness. Suddenly I recognized each man, woman and child is on his or her own journey of spiritual discovery and it may take them somewhere different from mine. I backed away from playing God in the lives of my friends to understand God is guiding them on their own path. I carry the same attitude into my conversations with children now.
Notice how another parent was confronted with her own spiritual history– and ambivalence– as she tried to answer her child’s questions.
My husband and I were raised in a Catholic family although our parents never had us attend Mass unless it was for a wedding, etc. The other day, we were passing by this gorgeous church in downtown Oakland and my 3 1/2 year-old asked me what it was. I told her it was a church.
She said: “Is that a place to go for lunch?”
And then… I tried to find the words to explain that some people go there to think about loved ones that are gone, etc… Too complicated!!!!
Our view on spirituality is that we are non-religious persons believing that there is something or someone out there but we don’t really know what/who. And that religion is the answer to humans about everything we couldn’t understand, or to control population. How to explain this?
Questions to increase mindfulness of your spiritual history
- What do you remember about your first awareness of God?
- In what ways did your parents or other caregivers engage with your early spiritual development?
- What were your early ideas of what God was like? What positive emotions did you associate with God? What negative emotions?
- What stories did your parents tell you of their spiritual history?
Tweetable: Awareness of our spiritual history increases the likelihood we’ll be fair when we discuss religion with kids. Click to Tweet
Love this article Janet. A close friend of mine was raised Catholic but has lapsed for many years (her word, not mine). Her husband was also raised Catholic, but I had no idea until two days ago when I learned they started going to mass together and plan to continue. Why all of a sudden? They are expecting their first child. I believe they are revisiting their personal histories so they are prepared to be fair when their little one desires to know more. God works in wonderful ways!