Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Life is Crashing into my Tower One...

(This picture is so beautiful to me. It's as if the baby might be looking and listening to
"instructions" from God before coming to Earth.)
With my six-month-old baby in my arms, I remember the exact moment my cousin Jenny called me, early on Sept. 11th, 2001.  We watched together -shocked- as news of an airplane crashing into Tower 1 of the World Trade Center was being reported.  We watched -horrified- as another plane flew straight into Tower 2.  Our country was under a "Terrorist Attack".  I was breast feeding Berkeley on the couch, almost disbelieving, as people were dying because of a man's drastic display of their belief in God.  My sweet baby didn't understand how defining that moment was in our lives, she would only grow up to read about it.  But, I still found comfort in talking to her about how she should always treat others with kindness, even if they believed differently than her.  I sang to her about patriotism, pride for self and country, appreciation for freedom, and more.  Sounds silly, but I did.  Somehow, talking to Berkeley comforted me, as I ached for those who died because of someone elses imposed beliefs.  I sat on the porch with her, and lit a candle, on the day our country would mourn together for a moment.  She'll remember nothing from all of this effort on my part....but I hoped that I would.   I hoped that I could help her grow up to not act in "terroristic" ways towards those different from herself.

FLASH FORWARD a few years:
When Berkeley was around 3 1/2  or 4, she was obsessed with "Buddah" statues in the stores.  Whenever we would see one, she wanted to look at it, touch it, and take it home.  Did she just like the happy, chubby, man with his bellybutton showing? Or was this the budding of her own religious inclinations?  I never did get her a statue, maybe I should have.  At Halloween that year, she decided that she actually wanted to dress up as "Buddah."  I remember trying to explain to her that people who believe in Buddah, treat his image special....just like we hold "Jesus" special in our lives.  I tried to tell her that they don't make Buddah costumes and that it might offend some people if we made one.  She didn't understand.  Berkeley still insisted that we find or make her a Buddah costume.  I didn't do that either.  

FLASH FORWARD several more years:
I was looking through some notes of mine recently, and came across something Berkeley (7 at the time) said to me one day after church. I was driving home and she was in the back seat explaining that her primary teacher had told her class a story of a man, who would rather die than deny God.

She followed it up with: "I'm not sure about that one."
I asked, inquisitively: "Why not?"
To which she replied: "Because I don't want to die!"

It made me giggle. You can't blame her!  She had reached - for herself - the first of many moments-to-come in life, where she would question why someone would do something drastic in defense of God. I explained to her, the best I could, why the man would have rather died, than deny the God that he believed in. But I'm not sure she could get passed that whole "you're still gonna have to die" part-of-the-story.

Berkeley is growing up.  She will be nine soon, and I have another daughter, McKenna, who is five.  The world is slowly revealing itself to them, a day at a time.  Berkeley doesn't remember Sept. 11th or her "Buddah" phase.  But both my daughters have an entirely DIFFERENT childhood than I did.  They can research answers to their life questions via not just libraries, tv, and teachers.....but also through the World Wide Web.  As a parent...I know my job is to help them process the many different things they hear/read.  I will do the very best I can.  However, I don't think that I ever realized that at age 35, I could be unsure about where I stood religiously.  It's been about nine months since I last spoke of my "religious woes" via blogging...but I wanted to talk about it again. 

You see, questioning everything you've ever stood for is scary enough on an individual basis.  It's turned my world upside down. I often find myself drained and exhausted from trying to "figure it all out". I have lived for three decades as a devout Mormon. What do I do as I question all that I have ever believed, without confusing my children?  What if I choose to leave the LDS Church...and then decide later to come back? What if I leave and never come back?  With Berkeley and McKenna's Father and Step-Mother coming from a "Mormon"-based belief system, how do I vere from that -respectfully- and not create a "two-sided" world for the girls?  This is the source of much "inner terroristic turmoil" for me. 

I grew up in a home where my mother was very spiritual, but not religious.  My distant father grew up LDS and then converted to Born Again Christianism when I was 11.  He spent years on a "terroristic" mission of his own, trying to "save" all us "sinners".  My brother began in the LDS Church, converted to Born-Again Christianism, and now lies in between being agnostic and an atheist.  Thus, I began at a very young age, having to decide for myself where I stood.  Believing differently and forming my own opinions is no new territory for me.  But it was no easy road.  

My heart tells me that the simple answer for my girls is this:

Teach them what you know for sure...raise them to be good them how to reach into their own souls for what feels them in any way you can....and then let them form their own beliefs as they grow. 

As wisdom-filled as that's not uncomplicated.  I just pray that GOD will help me.  I pray that I can make Him proud of the way I handle things.  God has entrusted these two, precious spirits to my care.  I want Berkeley and McKenna to believe in angels, miracles, and to know that they are not alone.  I want them to lead happy, fullfilling lives, while respectfully allowing others to live and believe as they wish.  I have to understand though, that they could choose to lie on the side of "there is no God" or on "Team Buddah".  So, while they are making up their minds, I must practice what I preach.