When my 5-year-old son spilled half a gallon of chocolate milk on the kitchen floor last week, the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh my God!” Similarly, whenever I get my water bill, there’s a good chance I’ll end up saying, “Jesus Christ, not again” under my breath. And when I see something incredible that catches my eye, I can’t help but exclaim “Holy smokes!” even when I don’t want to.
Despite my heavy use of religious euphemisms in my daily vocabulary, I don’t consider myself a very religious person. Even though I grew up Catholic and spent a few years at St. Thomas Apostles School in Queens, NY, I never had a strong relationship with the church and only attended mass during important holidays.
And apparently, I’m not alone.
There are more and more Americans now that are identifying themselves with non-Christian faiths than ever before. Our country’s religious landscape is changing, as many people are looking to unaffiliated faiths as an alternative to traditional churches or are simply choosing to be atheist or agnostic in their belief.
To quote the forever hip Michael Stipe, somewhere in between my ignorant teen years and my aloof existence in my 20s, I lost my religion.
It wasn’t because I deliberately dropped it; there just wasn’t a strong enough gravitational force to pull me through the church doors to begin with. I had other priorities. Only if I had a really tough exam I needed to pass in college or got into an annoying fender bender or was given life-disrupting news did I call out to God.
And while many adults my age are dealing with post-traumatic church syndrome, it wasn’t until I became a mother and started a family that the opposite happened to me.
Before I explain, no I didn’t have a born-again religious moment or feel in need of spiritual healing. And no, guilt didn’t make me start attending 11 am mass every Sunday. It wasn’t anything complicated that made me think of my religion again.
In fact, the answer is so simple that it might actually surprise you, too.
In my chaotic, day-to-day life that includes work, marriage, and motherhood, I just wanted to find a place of peace. I tried to find it at my local yoga studio, during a quiet walk in my town’s nature path, or heck, even in my own screened porch, but I couldn’t find it in those places.
So I went to the one place that I knew I could find some sort of solitude, and that was back at my church.
Now, I never dug too deep into the political foundations of my religion nor did I ever get carried away with the word of the Bible or my priest’s weekly sermons. I listen, but I don’t absorb every word to my heart. Unlike many devout Catholics and Christians of other religions, I honestly use my hour at mass to sit in peace.
Yes, that’s right: it’s a chance to sit for 60 minutes and not move one inch unless one of my kids has to go to the bathroom.
During mass, all I want is my family sitting next to me in our pew, away from the computers, the iPads, the smartphones, and the chaos that we dive into every day at home.
For me, going to church means I can just sit there and be alone with my thoughts without my daily distractions. It’s the one time a week I can truly thank God for the beautiful family that I have.
It’s that simple.
I don’t ask for a lot and I don’t expect to receive much, either. Everyone has different reasons as to why they reach out to God, but for me, it gives my family an opportunity to bond in church when our otherwise busy schedules have us pulling in different directions.
Now, for my own children, I don’t plan on pushing them to go to mass every week like my mother did when I was their age. I feel as a mother it’s my duty to introduce them to our faith, but whether or not they chose to continue believing in it will totally be up to them.
Religion is a path that some people find steady all their lives, while others go off track. Sometimes you think you lost it completely, only to rediscover it for the most unlikely of reasons.More On