Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™
FAMILY: Religion Is Causing Family Problems
Hello. I estimate that it has been about two years since this started. I come from a Catholic family, and I was forced into CCD classes once a week for six years, until I finally decided that I would not be finishing it. I refused to do my confirmation. My mom was unhappy, but after years of asking to get me out of there, she did. I am agnostic, and my mom often forgets that. It is clear that she is disappointed of me in regards of religion. I have an anger towards religion because of this. If it wasn't a thing, I wouldn't be such a disappointment to my mother. Or to my best friend, who is a strong believer as well. My mom told me I'd go to hell. My best friend indirectly told me I am a disgrace to God. The rest of my family says I have to believe in something. I can't take it. Another thing I'd like to mention; I recieved a doll from my godmother. The doll is supposedly a saint. I have a two foot crib I used to play with when I was younger, and my mom put it back in my room to put the doll in every night. Today, when she brought it in my room, I told her I had to talk to her about that tomorrow. She seemed angry at me, saying I was surely going to say something bad about the saint. Even if I told her I wouldn't, she was still upset. I just don't want it in my room. I can't be having a toy crib in my room at age 14. It just isn't right. I don't know what to do, I want to fix this whole thing without starting an argument. I'm emotionally tired of the arguments, I feel it's hopeless. I'd like to know what I can do to both get the doll oit of my room, and to get my mom to accept that I no longer consider myself a part of the Catholic religion. Thank you so much in advance.
Maria, religion isn't supposed to be a problem. It's supposed to help us through life and in that regard, help us find purpose. Two things came to mind when reading your letter. First, you are young and second, you might be objecting to the wrong thing.
I think you have reached the age where you question things. You question who you are, what you want to believe about a lot of things, what feelings you have toward authority (parents), how you have been brought up, what you want out of life and a lot of other things. It's quite natural and good. It's a sign of growing into maturity. However, it should not necessarily be a time for completely throwing things out the window.
Maria, I would ask you think about something. Are you finding religion a problem because of what it means or are you finding it a problem because it is being pushed on you? There's a difference. Folks older and, although you may not think so, wiser than you have chosen to encourage you to believe in God and practice a religion. They don't do this to torture, abuse or destroy your life but hope and believe it makes life better for you as it did for them. Please don't fault them for that. Once you are 18 and closing in on adulthood you can make a lot of decisions for yourself and if you feel persecuted you can move away from it. You have lots of time yet left.
Do you totally understand what "agnostic" means? It means "I don't know". It is choosing doubt as a way of life. A famous novelist once wrote. "To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation." It makes no sense. As you mature please decide to carefully investigate what religion is all about. Ask questions of others outside of your family, do some reading, research and study. Do what it takes to reach a decision other than "I don't know". That's being mature.
My mother passed away last year at the age of 96. She was a gentle and most kind and loving person right to the end with a strong faith in religion and God, much stronger than mine. What mementos did I keep and cherish? I kept her necklace with a cross, her statue of Mary, a rosary, and some pictures of saints. I kept the things that she held most precious. They were her life. Don't be angry that your parents or Godmother try to pass along the things that are important in their lives. The time will come when they will be gone and you can decide for yourself how important they were and throw them in the rubbish if you wish.
For now Maria, if I were you I'd not consider things to be hopeless. At 14 there is much to hope for and to deny your parents their right to inform and raise you as they see fit will only bring about dissension, argumentation, bad feelings and sadness, to you and to those who love you.
As I mentioned, be patient. Do some objective thinking and study. Try to see other's point of view and recognize they have good intentions. Time will pass quickly and you will reach that point in time when you can ignore as much as you wish, both good and bad.
Please do feel free to write back anytime!