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Monday, June 13, 2016

When Mom Doesn’t Go to Church



By Megan Schreiber Willman

My husband married an atheist. It’s not the word I would use, but for all intents and purposes it’s true enough. I don’t believe in God.


I believe in people, their innate goodness, and the power we have to move in each others’ lives with unity, peace, and love. I believe in good works (and good intentions) and the value of treating one another with respect. I am filled with purpose for giving my best every day to make a positive difference in my life and in the lives of those around me. But, no, I don’t believe in God.

Life would be simpler if I did. Rob and I talked this through long before we married, but I knew that tricky conversations were looming. Trying to do the “right” thing, I went to church every week with my family for years. One Sunday as I was reciting the words of a common prayer, the hypocrisy struck me. In trying to do what I thought was right for my children, I was making a mockery of what millions of people cherish. Aside from weddings and funerals, I never attended church again. Still, I didn’t plan to address this with my kids until they were ready for the conversation. Then one day, it came: “Why do I have to go to church if Mom doesn’t?”

There it was, and I wasn’t ready. For decades, I had stayed silent. Throughout the world, folks “like me” are greatly misunderstood if not outright hated. And just like individuals in every faith community where there are differences in practice and belief, not all atheists think alike. In life, nothing is that simple. I am much more than just a person who doesn’t believe in God. It’s a part of me, but it doesn’t define me. If I wanted our children to share my conviction that there are many ways to be and to believe in this world, then I needed to start leading by example. [Gulp.]

I talked to our sons about my beliefs and worldview. We discussed Dad and the great ways that he was introducing them to a faith-based life. I pointed out the variety of religious practices that we find among our family and friends. They listened attentively, and I asked for questions. Cue the crickets. Was that shock? Were they scared? Were they ashamed of me? I wasn’t breathing in the silence. After a few moments, they gave me hugs and went on about their business.

I still can’t be sure what they think because they haven’t said. They go off to church without question, and any complaints on the matter aren’t about me. I rest better knowing that I have been honest. Above all, I want to be a good example. Beginning in our home, Rob and I are weaving tolerance into their hearts and instilling the promise that they may choose their own paths. In that, I find the strength to break my silence.

What are you teaching your kids about church and spirituality? Do you belong to a church? 

4 comments:

  1. Great post! I appreciate what it takes to say out loud, both to your children and in print, that you are not a believer.

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  2. I can't imagine My Daily life without God.YES I AM A BELIEVER and my first love is God,then spouse/family etc.I have seen too many miracles not to believe in GOD,Miracles ONLY God could do.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can't imagine My Daily life without God.YES I AM A BELIEVER and my first love is God,then spouse/family etc.I have seen too many miracles not to believe in GOD,Miracles ONLY God could do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I believe God handpicked this husband and placed him in the life of the atheist wife for a reason. God always has a plan, and this plan is probably for the husband to lead his wife to salvation.

    ReplyDelete

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