When I was growing up, we attended a Catholic church close to our house. We occasionally went to mass on Sundays and would go to Hall’s afterward to have breakfast. I went to classes on Tuesday nights so that I could have my first communion, and eventually be confirmed, like my brothers.
My sons are growing up rather differently. Our faith is the most important part of our life, and it isn’t anything like it was when I was a kid. We love to love and serve God. Just the other night my boys were singing a verse out of the Psalms in unison: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good! His love endures forever!”
I grew up differently than my husband, than my best friend, than my own children. It wasn’t, by any means, a bad childhood. I loved everything about it. I loved working on the car with my dad and pretending I was just like my brothers. I remember fondly all the times I would drive with my dad to his work and go so fast up and down hilly roads that my stomach would do somersaults. I remember watching CSI and Survivor every week with my mom, snacking on cheese and crackers and reading books.
I was well loved. I was always provided for. I was shown by my parents how to take care of myself.
Somewhere between the day I took a government class in high school and the day I witnessed a woman running for president, politics became important. I started to care about what my president had to say. I started to care about international relations, social and economic policies, and the history of my country.
I used to hate everything about politics. I hated disagreeing with people I cared about. I hated the rage that people had. I hated news shows that ripped politicians to shreds. I wanted nothing to do with it.
But then I had children.
Everything changes when tiny people of your own blood start running around your house. The innate desire to protect them kicks in. The fury over giving your children what you were so lucky (or not so lucky) to have is a battle parents run into daily. We want to rescue our children from the depravity of a world full of hate, and we want to give them everything we loved, or never got the chance to love, when we were their age.
I didn’t grow up like a lot of Christians. I didn’t wake up every Sunday excited to go to church, I didn’t learn about how to read my Bible or use devotionals. Nobody showed me how to have my own faith. And that’s okay. My parents did show me how to believe in something. How to be confident in myself. They showed me how to have compassion, have opinions, and be someone who gives selflessly.
We talked about race. We talked about homosexuality. We talked about abortion. We talked about social and economic divides, and whether I liked it or not, my mom talked about politics and politicians, who she liked and who she didn’t.
I was often a student of my parents. Even if I disagreed with what they said, I listened in silence. Disagreeing makes me uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean we didn’t argue, but we lived together. They were my parents. I loved them more than I cared to be right.
My parents taught me how to have a passion for the things I believed in, because I saw it in their own lives.
My parents taught me how to be a woman of integrity and character; they taught me things that transcend faith and humanity.
In this political climate, truthfully, since the day I voted in the presidential election of 2008, I have stood in a tense place of being a Christian who was raised on liberal values.
It feels important–no, necessary–to enlighten those who disagree with other people vehemently. Especially those who will read this, feel the need to correct me, or feel a rise because I said “Christian” and “liberal” in harmony.
My actions speak louder than my words. I am not a result of a failed upbringing, lest you think my family are a bunch of “libtards” (Can that word be banished?) or just plain evil.
To put it simply, they are some of the most generous, caring people I have the opportunity to love.
They never failed me. They raised me better than for me to think that; they equipped me with the ability to see beyond differences and to love people.
I remember the day I drove home from college and cried into my mom’s arms because I felt like I had failed everyone in every way. I couldn’t last even a month in a new place. And my family did just as families should do: they loved me anyways.
It almost sounds like the Gospel, doesn’t it?
Nobody is perfect. No family is without fault. But I would not be half the woman I am if I hadn’t been given a family like mine.