Saturday, January 24, 2009

A step in the right direction

My husband and I both consider ourselves vaguely as Christians. I say vaguely, because although we have the basics down - we believe in God and Jesus and all that - when it comes to living it out in our lives, we're still figuring out what that means. And a large part of that is finding a church.

I grew up Catholic, he grew up nothing specific, but believing in God at an early age and scared of being in the wrong camp; in other words, scared of the ideas of hell, or oblivion, or eternal damnation. He was drawn to different religions and actually looked extensively into one that almost meant the demise of our relationship (it was before we were married, and was a religion I disagree heavily with and could not be married to someone who is a member for a multitude of reasons).

I have always been drawn to the Catholic church, even though I haven't been an active participant as an adult. It isn't that I believe they are "right" and other denominations are "wrong". I've probably said this in a previous post, but I agree with C.S. Lewis's idea of the "hall with many rooms." It's like being in a hall, with all these doors to rooms on either side. Some rooms seem more fitting than others, and the key is to find the room that works best for you. Because at the end of the day, we're all in the same building.

But the idea that I may have to forever give up being Catholic has been difficult for me. I've prayed about it endlessly, asking God to open my heart to understanding where He wants us as a family in terms of a church community. Because that's the other piece of it for me - we need to be on the same page and going to the same church. This is for us as a family, not just what makes me feel good on Sundays. That isn't the point.

I've been itching to find a church, Catholic or otherwise, for a long time now. I think it has taken some time for my husband to be in the same place, and the waiting has been difficult for me. But I also know how far I get with him when I push, so I've largely left it alone, asking questions and suggesting options from time to time, but waiting for him to take the lead, or at least be willing to take a step.

Last Thursday night, we finally took that step.

A long time ago he agreed to attend RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes at our local Catholic Church. We both agreed that it would be fair to take an in depth look at Catholicism to see if it might be right for us. We both have some things we like about the church, and some things we're not so sure about; although I think his list of "not so sure" is probably longer than mine. But I feel at home there, and he has no major objections, and a lot of questions, so going to this group seemed like a logical step. A couple of years ago, I don't think it would have been a good idea; he was much more skeptical and I doubt he would have gone in with an open heart. But he's told me recently that he's excited to learn more and wants to move on from this church-limbo we've kept ourselves in.

We went, as "inquirers", which means we were there to ask questions about the church, the community, and the RCIA process. The whole thing is quite informal, believe it or not since Catholicism is certainly known for it's formality. You attend the "inquirer" group a few times, which is highly conversational and question oriented. Then, if you're interested in learning more, you can become a "candidate", which simply means you're on the path to learning more, and might someday become a Catholic, but there's no pressure to decide anything for sure. That process usually takes about a year, give or take, and it's not a matter of covering all the topics, or taking tests, or proving you can say the rosary. It's just the time it takes to go over the important things about the church and the church's role in your relationship with God - and to decide if this church is the best place to enhance that relationship, which is what it's really all about.

The people were very nice, and helpful. There were several other "inquirers" there, with varying stories about what brought them. We talked about the process, a bit about the church, and the RCIA process. I felt the entire time that this was a good thing, but I was so nervous about my husband's reaction. I worried that we'd leave and he'd immediately say "no way" or be reluctant to give it a chance and come back.

Boy was I wrong.

We got to the car and he said he felt great about it, we should go to church there on Sunday and get D enrolled in their Sunday school as soon as possible. He said he can't say for sure at this point if this means we'll land here forever, or if he'll want to actually become Catholic. But he had a great feeling about the church and the community and feels like it might be a great place for our family - offering us the kind of support we're looking for on our journey to Christ.

I couldn't be happier! I never imagined in a million years he would be so gung ho. He said several times on Friday that he felt so good about the class, and he's looking forward to going again this coming week. I thought for sure he'd be skeptical, but try to tough it out for my sake. I feel like the pull I've felt towards the church hasn't been in my head, but might actually be God calling us in a certain direction. Again, not because I think they're "right", but because it might be the place that will allow our family to grow in our faith and give us the foundation we need to raise our children believing in and loving the Lord.

For the first time probably ever, I feel the tension between my husband and I regarding religion to be fading. When he was looking into that other religion back when we were in college, it created this wall between us, making it difficult for us to even discuss religion without getting defensive and argumentative. I've always hated that and wanted to badly to be on the same page. More than ever before, I feel like we're almost there. And I'm so excited to attend church on Sunday. Granted, in reality I'll probably spend most of my time trying to get G to stay in the nursery without freaking out, but that's ok. We're on the road, taking steps together, our feet in synch and hands embraced. And we're moving in the right direction.

1 comment:

Mandy said...

"AWESOME" doesn't do justice to my reaction in reading this - I'm so thrilled for you. I understand the desire to want to be on the same page, have a church home and not only agree on it but have both of you be comfortable with the decision.

I'm thrilled for all of you. :D