This can be a tricky time of year for us. The Hubster and I were both raised celebrating and practicing Christian holidays and traditions, but as we became adults we found that a lot of the frameworks of our religion weren’t compatible with what we thought, how we lived, and eventually, what we wanted to teach our children.
For most of the year this is a non-issue, but each Winter and Spring we have a similar conversation about how we are going to explain Christmas, Jesus, and Easter to the kids.
While we don’t participate in organized religion, we are both spiritual and we both hold a special faith in the world, and we want to pass those feelings and teachings on to our kids. (Side note here: even the Husband and I do not completely agree on what’s out there or how it works, but we share the same basic principles.)
I know that we are not alone in this, either. There is a growing group of people who hold certain beliefs and yet do not attend church.
The tricky part is that we want to pass on the core teachings that most religions seem to be based on, but we don’t want to incorporate some of the tacked on (in my opinion) ‘rules’ that –again, in my opinion – seem to be completely opposite of what those core beliefs are all about.
So each year I explain it to the kids and it goes something like this:
Me: A long, long time ago there was a man named Jesus.
Kid: How long ago? Like when you were a baby?
No, a lot longer than that.
Like when Grampy was a baby? That long?
No, even longer than that – a really, REALLY long time ago – before cars, and TV, and computers or even lights.
OK – so Jesus lived a looooong time ago. Jesus was a teacher who wanted to help people learn the things that he thought were the most important for being a good person.
Like sharing? And not throwing tantrums?
Yes, like sharing. I don’t know what Jesus thought about tantrums, but I do know that he thought that love, kindness, helping, and caring were very, very important. That you should always treat other people the way that you would like to be treated.
I’m about the throw around some more of my personal opinions and simplify to a ridiculous extent a very complicated issue:
In my opinion, if most major religions were boiled down to their key points, they would all have some of the same things in common: a belief in a higher power, a connection between the earth and the skies or heavens, and an understanding that the more the whole works together the better all of mankind will be (hence all the rules/commandments). It makes sense; if people are kind to one another, help each other out, don’t take their stuff, then everyone is happier than they would be if we were all jerks and thieves.
These are the basics that we are trying to live our lives by and instill in our kids: be kind and loving, treat others how you would want to be treated, don’t be a jerk and take stuff that isn’t yours. We are also trying to teach them that we are all connected no matter what belief system you follow. That includes how we treat each other as people, how we treat the earth, and that in the end even when those we love have passed on, we are still connected to them by the love we have for them in our hearts.
I believe in spirits, but not the resurrection. I believe that there is something bigger than us that surrounds us in nature and all parts of the world and beyond. I believe that there is, as I tell the kids, a special spark in them – their soul – that makes them them. I believe that Spring and the Easter season is a way to remember that we have been given another chance to be the best people we can be – that we can grow from the past and rejoice in the new. I believe that taking the time to remember a person who spent their life trying to teach others love and compassion is incredibly important (and that goes for anyone who did that – not just Jesus).
I try my best to understand those who have different ideas than I do, as I hope they would do for me. I believe that passing these ideas along to my kids will only help them to be the best people they can be.
As I said before, there is a growing number of people who feel similarly, and who may also struggle to explain their faith when it doesn’t fall into the standard categories. I don’t claim to have all the answers for I am most certainly not a religious scholar – and I know that my way of thinking may be very different than yours – but I have the utmost faith that love, hope, and light will always win, and in the end I think that all of us can hopefully agree on that.
Happy Spring and much love to you and yours!