When I went away to college, I started exploring religion the way some people explore drugs. I wanted to try it all, wanted to have my psychedelic experience and really live.
I remember when I was home on a break and my mother asked me which time I was going to church on Sunday. I told her that I didn’t know what my religion was anymore. I was exploring. “What religion are you, then?” I told her I didn’t know yet, I was still seeing what fit me. “That’s not how religion works, Elizabeth. It’s faith. You don’t get to shop for the one you want. That would be too easy.” I was so mad. I was a college student now. Pretty much an adult and a legal one, for sure. She didn’t even go to college. Who was she to tell me what to do?
As it turns out, she was my mother, and as long as I lived under her roof I would attend church every Sunday while I was home on any break and any time living there before venturing out on my own. Moms are pretty powerful. But I was still super mad about her comment. I was filled with the righteous indignation that can only fill a new adult who knows she’s wrong but can’t admit it.
Because that’s just the problem; my mother (as is so very often the case) was right. Shopping for a group that shares your beliefs and matches every detail of what you think is the right thing to do is what politics is for, not religion. I’m not saying that people cannot or should not change religions. There are probably many reasons, valid, strong, important reasons, to change. For me, though, what I was doing was wrong. For me, my mom was right. I was taking faith in God out of the equation. I had faith in myself that what I believed was right and all I had to do was find a religious group that agreed. That’s sort of extreme hubris.
I’ve grown up a lot since then, at least in some ways, and I’m still the same religion. There are certain things that I could not move away from, things that kept my faith alive. I’m private in my practicing of my religion. I’m private in celebrating God. There are things that concern me about my religion, and things that make me proud. I’m really lucky my mom is so much smarter than I am.