I read a post the other day called Easter Week for Stoics. I read it with a completely open heart and mind. In fact, I like the writer’s perspective most of the time. We have a lot in common. This post, however, just didn’t sit right with me because while I feel everyone can celebrate Easter week as they like, something about it felt “don’t judge me because I don’t cry when I’m “supposed” to but I might be judging you for crying” post. I’m not sure that’s how she meant it to come across but that is how it read, to me.
I feel like we live in a world where it’s not always “cool” to be openly Christian. If you share a religious quote, obviously you are zealot and you don’t vaccinate or believe in doctors and if you are Catholic, you drive a minivan and have 20 kids because you don’t believe in birth control. Sometimes, being religious is seen as a weakness by those who are not. I mean honestly, being openly religious sometimes feels like telling people that you still believe in Santa and then dropping the mike and running away. Some people just get that blank stare on their face, like you just farted.
I am Catholic and for me The Passion of the Christ was more than just a movie. While we are very prone to following liturgical calendars and celebrating in a very organized way (my own husband makes refers to mass as his Sunday calisthenics and is not above referring to it as the cult of Christianity), I have never felt emotionally manipulated. I have free will. Just because our mass is regimented and organized, it does not make our response to the word any less spontaneous. Just because we don’t dance in the aisles, speak in tongues or handle snakes does not make my faith any less true or authentic. We just choose to worship differently.
I am not one of those stuffy people who attends mass to prove to others that I am dedicated nor am I someone who only attends mass on Easter and Christmas. God is with me every single day and has been since I was a small child. My faith permeates everything I do and I don’t have to prove it to anyone. I go to church because being there makes me feel at peace with the world; it makes me feel safe. It is my quiet sanctuary. That is the relationship that I have with my faith. I do not judge others for their perspective and I never mock what I don’t understand.
I don’t believe you have to be in church every Sunday to have a relationship with God and I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to have faith. My belief is that faith is something you learn as a child and becomes a trusted part of who you are as an adult. I don’t know how I would have survived some of the hard times in my life if I didn’t have a higher being to hand my worry off to or believe that my God can do anything. My faith gives me hope.
I appreciate Christ’s sacrifice. I believe in it. I embrace it. I am humbled by it. I am grateful for my faith. I want to pass that on to my daughters. I’m raising them to believe in God, to believe in human compassion, kindness and forgiveness and to not sit in judgment of others. I want them to be tolerant, to love their fellow man (& woman) and to do these things every day not just on Sunday or just because they are supposed to. Most importantly, I want them to be good people by anyone’s standards even if it’s not the cool thing to do. I want them to make the right choices because they believe in them despite what others might think.
When I touched that wooden Jesus on the cross on Good Friday, I said a prayer for the world and myself to be better. I unexpectedly began to weep because my heart was so heavy in reaction to Mary helplessly watching her son be crucified. As a mother, there is nothing I can fathom to make it hurt less, even if it were to save all of mankind. I crossed myself, touched the wooden hand of Jesus and wept for his mother; wept for every mother and father.
I’ve never been one to do things simply because I was supposed to or because everyone else was doing it. My parents had the “if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?” conversation very early on with me and my answer has been “no” ever since. My relationship with God is personal. It is intimate. I believe that God knows what is in our hearts without us ever shedding a tear or speaking a word but if I want to sob uncontrollably or sit stoically quiet, I’d prefer no one judge me.
Crying on command may be something that some people do as proof to their congregation or maybe they are genuinely having a moment of religious reconciliation. I don’t know. I don’t know their heart. The one thing I do know is that it is not my place to judge anyone for anything, ever though I know we all have but I am trying to be less cynical.
We all celebrate Easter (or we don’t) in our own way and that’s all right too because, in the end, you can only be who you are and you can only believe what you do. I guess the only thing that really bothered me about the post was not that she didn’t cry but that I felt she was judging those who did.