the one where i ramble about love and jesus

Cortney and I were both raised in households that went to church every single Sunday.  No exceptions. In fact, in my house, we went to church twice on Sunday and once on Wednesdays.

As a kid, aside from getting up early, I didn’t mind going to church.

Ok, I should say I didn’t mind being part of a church.  Everyone knew my family.  We were warmly greeted each Sunday morning.  My mom taught 2nd grade Sunday School and my dad was on the consistory.

(I should mention here that Cort and I were both raised in the same massively conservative Christian community, and that both of our families were members of the Reformed Church of America).

Church was full of wonder and tradition for me.  Our sanctuary was very old-school with beautiful stained-glass windows depicting different scenes in the life of Christ.  We had a choir loft and a choir that wore robes.  We had a traditional pulpit and old sconce lights on the wall.  I loved it.  I loved that our church was the first building in Zeeland; it was a part of local history.

I don’t know when either Cort or I stopped going to church or why.  I do know it was after both of us had moved out of our parents’ houses and no longer had the rule that we “had” to go.  Because of the new-found freedom?  We both choice a life of sleeping in on Sundays–despite constant comments from our mothers.

Once married, we vowed over and over to start going, but we never did.  Not regularly.

(I should mention that Eddie is baptized in the RCA church; and that we are all members of the church where Cort grew up).

But this post isn’t about going to church. It is just a segue into where my thoughts are going.

It’s more about what is in that church…or better, what is outside the church as well.

I’m talking about that guy, Jesus.

Yes, I am going there on the blog.

The season has gotten me thinking a lot about love.

Not only is Christmas supposed to be the celebration of the birth of Christ, but lately in the news there has been a lot of coverage on the Dream Act (not passed) and the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act (passed) and all sorts of other talk in between.

And all this Christmas and talk of others different than ourselves and church stuff has gotten me thinking about teaching Eddie about love.

Not just love for his mom and dad, but love for humankind.

No, we don’t go to church that often, and really a big part of that is because I don’t see the kind of love that I want Eddie to learn about being practiced there.  I hear it being taught, but not practiced.

I want badly to find a church that is the mix of the deep traditions that I love (old hymns, big echoe-y sanctuary, etc) and my more liberal views on the world (women’s rights to serve in the church, for example).  I want Eddie to feel the love of a church family and learn about the Bible there.  But we haven’t found that yet.

And honestly?  I struggle with the idea of “blind faith”.  I don’t know if I have it.

I know my parents have it.

I know Cort’s dad had it.

I know Cort’s grandparents have it.

I watched them blindly believe and trust.

I don’t know about me.  I try very hard to trust, but I don’t know if I can believe as literally, for instance, as my dad can in the stories of the Bible. Did a man survive being thrown in a furnace?  For real?   Or is this a legend told?  Is it more literature than fact?  Meant to teach, but not be historical?

But what I do believe hands down from my religious upbringing is this: I do believe in the kind of love that Jesus taught.

So no matter what happens, I fully intend to teach Eddie to love as Jesus did.

What we know of Jesus is that he was a radical who took anyone…anyone…who would have him, and loved.  He loved those no one else would.  He taught that the greatest gift of all was love and that we should “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Yes, he taught about sin being bad, but over that?  He taught to love.

I want Eddie to learn that sin is bad, but you need to love the snot out of the sinner.

Jesus traveled around with thieves and prostitutes.  Do people really think he would turn away illegal aliens or gay people?

Jesus went and dined with the scum of the town. Do people really think he would snub an adulterer?

Jesus taught love by loving.

I have struggled my whole life with the “reality” of the Christmas story.  With the idea of a crazy guy walking around claiming to be Christ and dying for my sins.  I have wondered if floods and talking burning bushes and parted seas were miracles or otherwise explained.

But this year?  As I watch Eddie interact with Christmas for the first time?  I realize that none of that matters to me.

Because I believe in love.

And that is the gift Jesus gave us.

And that is the gift I want to give my son. I want him to see me loving everyone…especially those society sees fit to not love.

Merry Christmas or Chanukkah or Santa-loving or whatever you choose to do or not do this week.

I wish you all much love.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this post a lot Katie :). Wishing you lots of love too!

  2. Yes. Just yes. All of this.

    I love the idea of church, but I cannot find a church that doesn’t feel oppressive and not for the love that I want Darling Girl to learn and know. It’s hard. So if I can never find a church that fits us, we will teach Jesus at home. We will teach Darling Girl his love and acceptance of anyone. That’s all I can do.

    • we had a pretty nice church that Cort and I went to a few times before E was born. We just haven’t put much effort forth since then. Sometimes I feel like I am failing a bit in that department, but then I remember that Eddie is so surrounded with love…and that is what we want most.

  3. That’s a great post, and it says things that I think all the time.

    I grew up in church, similar to you and Cort and quit going like you. I’ve returned to church and left again, for all the reasons you state above.

    I’m glad Eddie is raised in a household that is so rooted in real love.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, you. Yes…love is the biggest lesson that I aim to teach, well, anyone. I was once given the compliment by a non-believer that if she knew anything about Jesus, it was through my actions and not anyone else’s words. That has stuck with me since she said it to me in high school. That is what I want Eddie to learn. Actions are so very important.

  4. Great post – and so nice to see it all broken down to something we all can (and should) believe in.

    I was brought up in a non-religious household and this year I’ve fielded a lot of questions from people, from different faiths, about what I believe in. When I was first asked I actually didn’t know what to say but now I do – I believe in love, humanity and a pinch of magic. And that’s what I see a huge part of my job as a parent to embody & teach to my little monkey.

    • It’s really hard. I love the traditions I was brought up with, but honestly I don’t know if I can pass it along to my son…at least not all of it…as truth in good consciousness. Although at the same time, I was able to make my own thoughts on it. I just don’t know. But what I can do is teach him love. Teach him compassion and acceptance.

  5. Awesome post. I think a lot of us raised like you were raised the same way and have the same generational feelings you do. I wanted to show so much to Ava, but I’m afraid I am not setting the example my parents did.

    I do know I love God, she does too, and we’ll find that awesome church someday.

    • I agree…even if that church needs to be our home for now. I think I learned more by watching how my parents treated others than what they told me in church anyway.

  6. I grew up going to church 3 times a week too & loved it. Moving away from there was hard, then not going to church at all was “easy” but it alwasy felt like something was missing. Severl years later and after some searching I feel truly blessed to have found another church family I feel comfortable with. It took awhile and it was weird, always comparing it to my old church and trying to figure out if the church was just a place where people really came for appearance sake but were secretly judging everyone, or if they truly were loving as Christ told us to love. No place is perfect because we are flawed as humans, but hopefully you can find a place that believes and supports in the love that Jesus meant for us to share with everyone. Blessing and love to your family!

    • I would love to have the community of church. Thank you for this loving comment! Blessings to you as well!

  7. I know that this isn’t the point of the post but I think in my heart and soul that we don’t have to go to church to believe or to be good Christians or whatever your religion may be. I think the key is to practice what you believe in every day life. I know people who go to church all the time and they are not good people. I think that the fact that youre trying to instill in Eddie that treating and loving and having respect for humankind is a beautiful thing.

    For myself, we grew up going to church. When I moved out I stopped going. Why? Because my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t see the point in going when I hated it so much. I believe in a God. I believe that He wants us to be good to each other. I try to practice that and teach that to Chunky.

    • I 100% agree with you, Kim! I don’t think you need to go to church at all. I do love church though…the good stuff. The community. The feelings of love. The old hymns. The informational sermons. I don’t love being TOLD what to do though or how to feel. I don’t love threats of hell. That isn’t the point, in my opinion.

      It’s all about love.

      And I love you, my friend. Lots. Have a wonderful season!

  8. Dude. This is further proof that we are the same. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church, in a really, really conservative SB church. Dan? Was raised going to a church (occasionally) where they only spoke Korean. Which he didn’t speak. So…uhh…yeah.

    But the thing I most want Joshua to know? Is to love EVERYONE. No one is less of a person than he is. No one doesn’t deserve to be loved.

  9. i found this post interesting and i am not one for replying or normally speaking my mind but here goes. to each his own on what they choose to believe but the Bible says “by grace you have been saved through faith” and it is that faith that i choose to hold firm to everyday. i believe that while going to church may not be necessary it is essential to learning and growing and trusting God on everything. i agree that Jesus did give us the gift of love and yes he did love everyone equally. however, that is not the greatest gift that Jesus gave us. he was sent here to die for us, all of us, each one of us is a sinner and in Jesus death we have salvation from those sins and if we trust and believe in those teachings we will have eternal life through him. so, at Christmas i choose to believe and have faith in that tiny baby that came to save this world from its sin and all the while loving us unconditionally.

    • Oh my lovely friend! I am so glad you did. I love this faith. I WANT this faith. So badly. And you are right, Jesus taught love, but he loved us so hard that he died for us. A love that big? So hard to understand. But I try. I try. Through all the bad, through all the prayers that seemed (still seem?) unanswered, I struggle to cling to this faith that so many of the people I love have. But I WANT to. And that is why I can’t reject it. Because just when I thought it was all for nothing? Eddie came into our lives, and I was back there with my little amateur faith, seeing love everywhere. Eddie is soooo lucky to have you in his life. We are so very blessed to have such loving, faith-filled examples for him. Thank you for your love.

  10. This is good – it’s true to you and that’s what I prefer to read. We’re teaching the boys that christmas is also about baby jesus’ birth, and we’re making him a cake. They’re doing the silly santa stuff (and I’m using it to my advantage) but the birth of Christ is also important to us. Love this 😉

    • we talk about Jesus being the “reason for the season” too. i prefer him to learn that and make his own opinions later. But the thing I want him to know always? love is important.

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