Years ago, I was having a conversation with a family member about faith. "I know you don’t believe any of this stuff, but …" he began, before going on to tell me just how religious his wife was.
I’ll admit, I was taken aback. He seemed to describe "really religious" as the type of person I don’t consider religious at all (the type accustomed to using the Bible as a weapon or prone to blaming the devil instead of taking accountability for their own actions). But also, he had somehow assumed I wasn’t religious and didn’t actually believe in God.
I have faith. I’ve just never been "in your face" about it.
For me, faith is a very personal thing. I never wanted to push anyone away by being so vocal about my faith that they felt as though they couldn’t be respected in theirs.
There was a time in my life where religion and I had some struggles. I believe very strongly in supporting the LGBT community, and I was not comfortable with how some churches treated that community. I never lost my faith in God and always considered myself a follower of Jesus, but I had a hard time finding my place in organized religion.
So, I took the time to truly research the issues I had with organized religion. I searched for a church I felt comfortable in and an understanding of the Bible that made sense to me—one that truly extended God’s love to all those who wanted it. I have worked hard to instill those same values in my daughter, who attends a private Christian school and listens to me read from a children's Bible every night.
The people I’ve known who have been most vocal about their faith also happen to be the ones least likely to practice what they preach.
I’m proud of the ways my 5-year-old is already working to emulate the love Jesus had for everyone—not just the loud, powerful or legalistic. Every day, I work to teach her that faith is shown through our actions and the most important thing she can be is kind. Her current passion project is doing kind deeds for the homeless in our community. So, together we work to pack bags of food and supplies that we carry around in our car and hand out as needed.
Faith is a big part of our life, but it’s not something I feel we need to be loud about. The people closest to me know where I stand and what a big piece of my heart God has. Those who may not know can at least approach me and trust me not to judge them or hang the Bible over their heads.
That’s not to say that those who wear their faith on their sleeves are doing it wrong. I think as long as their actions match up with their words, that’s all that ultimately matters. But in my experience, the people I’ve known who have been most vocal about their faith also happen to be the ones least likely to practice what they preach.
I never wanted to be that. And I would never want it to be my daughter.
I would also never want anyone to think they couldn’t have a place in my life or heart just because they don’t worship in the same way I do. So, I’ve learned to have a quiet faith, one that focuses on my relationship with God and treating others in the same way Jesus would, rather than on loudly and regularly proclaiming what I believe for all the world to hear.
It’s the type of faith that works best for me, and it’s the way I’m raising my daughter to believe.