I’ll start by referencing this post: Dear Parents with Young Children in Church
This really spoke to me, because I am that parent. When I’ve attended services at the UU church we attend (when we can), I’ve been the parent frantically trying to keep a preschooler quiet and content long enough for him to be released to his classroom. I love that the UU church and many others have a special time at the beginning where everyone is together and then the children get a special story time before being sent to their classes. I think it’s beautiful. But for me, as a parent, it’s stressful at the same time. I never stopped to think about how important it is for the children to be included. Instead, I worried about loud questions, silly sounds, and a squirmy body that refused to be controlled. By focusing on my fears rather than the child, I have been doing us all a great disservice, particularly the child. Granted, the child I’m referencing, my step-son, has behavioral issues beyond the norm for a preschooler… but that doesn’t invalidate his spiritual needs. Now I have a newborn son who will be joining us as well the next time we make it to church. Placating a newborn during a church service does not sound like a peaceful endeavor to me, but I suppose I’ll get around to tackling it before too long.
I miss church. I miss being with other people in that kind of setting, all singing and praying together as a community. I wanted to go this morning, but I chickened out and chose to sleep in instead. Both the boys woke up cranky so it worked out for the best. I stayed home and cooked bacon and did dishes – not very uplifting for the spirit, but not too awful either. I truly do miss Sundays being church day. When I first left Christianity I was so thankful to have my day back after years of attending three services every Sunday plus one on Wednesday night. I needed the last three years without church to help me reclaim my day of rest and find my desire for church again. Church used to be a habit, something I had never been able to choose – now I can choose to go or not go without fearing judgement and feeling guilt. Church attendance should never be associated with judgement and guilt anyway, right? Just one more thing fundamentalism managed to screw up for me and so many others like me. I don’t want church to be ruined for my boys. I want to give them the opportunity to know the joys of church without ever experiencing the negatives I saw because of fundamentalism.
I’m considering visiting a United Church of Christ church that is closer than the UU church we usually attend. I’m interested in seeing what UCC is like, now that I want to re-examine Christianity. I love Unitarian Universalism and the local UU church… but I’m not sure it’s what I need right now. Because UU envelopes such a broad scope of beliefs, I feel like much of its spiritual potential is lost to attempts to not offend anyone. I guess it’s easier to focus on less divisive issues like social justice rather than communing with the Divine when your congregation includes atheists, agnostics, and humanists. This of course varies from congregation to congregation, but the two UU congregations I’ve visited both seemed to have this problem. I call this a problem because of my personal beliefs, but were I an atheist etc. I’m sure I’d be very happy with the way things are. Finding middle ground between atheists and non-atheists in a church setting has got to be a nightmare for UU ministers!
What kind of church do you attend, if any?