Thursday, May 8, 2008

the ongoing saga of my faith crisis

With my sister being completely incapacitated after her surgery, I knew that I would have to take her place in helping our mom out. This means taking mom out for her usual errand running, but most importantly to me, this also meant taking my mom to church. Although I haven't willing gone to church in a while, I quickly accepted the fact that accompanying my mom to Mass would be a tiny sacrifice I would have to make.

On Saturday, when I asked my mom if she wanted to go to church on Sunday (as a conversation starter, of course, I already knew the answer), she meekly replied, "Umm...yes, if you want to drop me off and then pick me up, that would be nice." She said it with such painful hesitation that it broke my heart. With resolution in my voice, I replied, "No, I'm going with you." The expression on her face softened and she seemed pleased by this news.

On Sunday, I woke up early, put on a dress, and took my mom to church. It was the feast of the Ascension, when Jesus finally ascended into heaven following His resurrection and post-resurrection Gospel-spreading. It was also the day 6 children were celebrating their First Communion.

The easy-going priest teased the kids with a pop quiz on the day's scripture readings and the gospel. The kids were front and center and probably overcome with nervousness. They didn't answer a single question. Every time a question was asked, I resisted the urge to shoot up my arm and say, "ME, ME, ME" like back in my elementary school days. I answered the questions under my breath, hoping that one of the first communion kids would hear, knowing that my mom definitely did. I realized that 13 years of Catholic schooling really does stick with you.

When time came for the Faithful to get up and receive communion, I remained in my place. I had no intention of going up, knowing that the Church considers my soul to be unclean and therefore not worthy of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. As my mom got up and followed the procession to the priest, she kept turning back, probably hoping I would change my mind and follow her. I knew I was disappointing her by not going up with her, but I knew in my heart that it was the right thing for me to do.

When my mom returned to our pew, I noticed her eyes had welled up with tears. She eventually came and sat down in the seat next to me and I proceeded to take her hand and just hold it in an effort to comfort her. I will not apologize for who I am and what I do for a living (jeez, you'd think I was a hooker or something--I'm just trying to prevent the spread of HIV one condom at a time). And my mom can't change that.

She should know. She raised me to be stubborn.

I just wish she wouldn't take this decision so personally. My straying from the Church has nothing to do with her, but more to do with my decision to think and judge for myself. I strongly believe in certain things that the Church is against. I still believe in God and in being a good person and in helping those less fortunate. I will not become evil just because I'm not a practicing Catholic.

Maybe one day my mom will see the value in my beliefs, regardless of whether they are attached to an organized religion.

3 comments:

Shannon said...

Great post.

It's really hard to branch out and be a person in your own right. And parents can make that easier or harder.

I think it's natural for parents to take their children's choices personally...they're a part of you, after all. And some parents adjust more easily than others.

In the end, maybe all you need is time.

instatick said...

Wonderful post Lizzie.

Just so you know, I think you're absolutely amazing for branching out and becoming you. That's not an easy thing to do and it's not an easy think for parents to take. I have faith differences with my father that have always caused a great divide between us and my mother and I have differences regarding what I should do with my life.

Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone and for once again writing from the heart.

lizzie said...

shannon: thanks for the compliment. it's kinda hard to do your own thing in my family. it's basically an uphill climb that doesn't get easier. unfortunately, i think it will be a long time before my mom is completely comfortable with my decisions.

instatick: thanks for the compliments! you're so sweet to say that. it is difficult to do your own thing, especially if that's not what your parents want for you. it sounds like you know all about that. i'm sorry about you and your father and i hope that soon he will come to see your side of things.

THANK YOU for letting me know that i'm not alone in feeling this way. :)