I was raised Catholic. We were told to have conversations with God. But, I will be the first to admit while I was a kid I just kinda went along with the show, I did a lot of pretending, didn't make waves, attended the private school with religion classes and went to mass each Sunday with my family because "that's what we did."
By default, and out of tradition, Tom and I married in the church and have raised our children this way as well. Nowhere near hard core, I would say we fall into the category of inconsistent Catholics. We didn't see the value in private education for our kids, but we did (do) send them to religious ed classes, and make sure they receive their sacraments. After all, we want them to have some kind of foundation.
We go to mass, most of the time...we stay 'til the end, most of the time.
For many years now, however, I have been uneasy with this religion I call mine. Something below the surface annoyed me, asking me to seek the truth...maybe even attempt a different spiritual path.
On some level I know Tom questioned as well, because when we moved to Texas in 2007 we church-hopped for a bit as there were only three Catholic parishes to choose from in our area...two of which were a 25 minute drive. But, while the more conveniently located Anglican or Methodist or Baptist services may have been more lighthearted and the music upbeat, nothing ever really struck us as "better," so we decided to return from whence we came.
Some of the questions clouding my brain included: if God loves us SO much, why would He damn us to Hell if we don't follow His commandments? If God's love is unconditional, why do I have to behave my way to Heaven? The Bible is a book of stories we follow, which is a bah-zillion years old, how relevant is it to life today and how come 90% of the time I don't understand the readings at mass, am I dumb? And, of course the big questions... is there really a devil, or do Heaven and Hell exist for that matter?
These are questions which haven't called into question IF God exists, not at all...for that I am 100% sure is true. It's been more the whole story of the Bible, and the feeling of always being judged while also being told we are special and loved without condition by our Creator.
Just never added up for me.
A few weeks ago, before I went to California for the parenting conference, I decided to order a book by one of our speakers for the weekend, an author I'd never heard of by the name of Neale Donald Walsch. The book he was promoting is called Conversations with God for Parents. This is a book to help parents better explain Walsch's original works entitled Conversations with God published in the mid-90s.
I opened the book on the plane from Dallas to L.A., was only able to get through the Preface and the first 22 pages before we landed, but let me tell you I COULD NOT WAIT TO HEAR NEALE DONALD WALSCH SPEAK!
Because the little I read of his book led me to believe that what I'd suspected about God and religion was on target! Neale was telling me, through his Conversations with God, several core messages which made total and complete sense to me! All of the answers to the questions that were in my gut were answered right there in the book!
God does talk to each one of us, all the time, through our Divine intuition. The key is to spend enough time in quiet to be able to really "hear" what it's saying. And I don't mean you may actually hear a voice (though you might) "hearing" includes thoughts, and especially feelings about your life and the choices you make in order to become Who You Want To Be. God may also "talk" to us through an encounter with a friend or family member, through music...He/She/It uses many avenues to reach us.
Because my friends: the journey of realizing Who You Are and becoming Who You Want to Be is WHY you are having this experience we call LIFE.
Conversations with God has brought a plethora of epiphanies for me! So many, in fact, that I know I will be writing a lot more about this work in the coming year. Until that time, I would encourage you, if you like me have questions about God/Life and what it all means, to pick up a copy of Conversations with God for yourself.
Now the question for me becomes...after being awakened by this book, how will I proceed with my own religious practice? AND how will I work with my what my children are feeling about God and their religious practice. At the moment, I have several kids who would rather not go to mass at all, and I have one contemplating dedicating his life to the priesthood.
Life is always interesting...
If you have read the book I would love for you to share your thoughts with me on how it has impacted your life and beliefs. Please comment through the site or if you'd rather, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.