Let's Go To the Zoo, Part Two

Crisis of Faith & Salsa

We went to Chipotle for lunch on Sunday. Jason stood in line while I snagged an empty table. As I tried to navigate Noah and a high chair across the crowded restaurant, hoping to not whack anybody in the ankles, I felt the weight of the high chair vanish. A young man wordlessly took it from me and carried it to my table, while I thanked him repeatedly, surprised at the unexpected help -- and also at how surprised I was about the unexpected help.

He sat down at his own table, bowed his head and prayed silently over his burrito.

I remember how my family used to pray over meals in restaurants. I remember not caring for a lot of years, and then I remember caring so very much. I remember my face flushing with embarassment as my parents prayed aloud over burgers and fries at Friendly's, while our waitress hovered nearby, unsure whether placing the ketchup bottle on the table would disturb our communion with the Lord Father in Heaven.

A few minutes later a family asked the man if they could join  him at his oversized table since there weren't any other seats. They were obviously eating out post-Church, dressed in their Sunday best, like my family had done almost every Sunday for my entire life. We attended a casual church but dressed up anyway -- it was disrespectful otherwise, although at some point in time I think my mother consented to letting my wear nice pants instead of a dress.

Soon the entire table was engaged in an easy, friendly sort of conversation. I wondered if the family had seen the young man say grace a few minutes earlier, or if they saw his shorts and t-shirt and assumed he needed to be saved. I wondered if they'd try to save his soul right there, like the time I made that little boy ask Jesus into his heart on the playground at McDonald's.

I wondered what they thought of my family, just one table away, all wearing shorts and flip-flops. I wondered if they felt sorry for Noah, like I used to feel sorry for the children at the booth next to us on Sundays, the day it was easiest to tell who went to church and who was a Godless lazy heathen.

I remember stressing about the fate of our fellow restaurant patrons to the point that I was unable to eat -- what if that baby over there never heard about God? Would it be my fault for not talking to her parents today? Would she go to hell because I was too busy enjoying my clown sundae with the M&Ms at the bottom to plant the seed of faith in their hearts and would Jesus look at me sadly one day in heaven because I'd been the crucial part in his plan for that little girl? Would he show me the jewels I could have had in my crown that I'd forfeited because I'd been too embarassed to close my eyes during grace that day, when that's all it would have taken to be a witness for Christ?

The family asked the young man about where he worked and lived and how long he'd been here in America. They asked him whether the burritos were authentic or not, and whether he liked the hot salsa.

"They're different, but good." he answered with a smile. "And I like the medium."

I thought about how I ended up with a child named for a Bible story but who has never been to church. Who has never been baptized. I thought about the children's Bibles and religious books our families have given us and wondered whether they worry that we'll never tell him about Jesus. Or whether the salvation of his soul is their burden alone. I wondered what in the world I'm supposed to tell him about his Fisher-Price Noah's Ark playset.

I wondered what happened to my faith and my fervor and my absolute belief in the Bible and the existence of God and heaven. I wondered when everything got so messed up for me, and why I have such ambivalence to the idea of putting on some nice pants and going to church on Sunday.

The church family's little boy spilled some rice, and the young man handed them his extra napkins.

I wonder if he'll ever know how much his actions spoke to me this Sunday.



Funny. All these people are telling you (Amy) to keep searching for God, and you'll find him.

But isn't the heart of what you're trying to say is that you feel God bringing you back to Him, almost without you even wanting him to?

That's the heart of the Gospel--he loved us before we could come to Him, and you are His, and He holds you in His hands.


Just remember: you can have faith and love (and teach your children how to have faith and love) without organized religion. God surrounds us even when we aren't in church :).


I completely understand and am also grappling with religion: better for baby WITH or WITHOUT? And what religion?


I loved this post so much I read it three times today.

I don't have much constructive to add because we're mostly in the same place. But I loved it all the same and thought you should know.


My mom was raised Catholic and my dad was raised Jewish and neither of them saw the need to raise a religious family. They raised me and my siblings to have respect, love and compassion for others. God didn't have anything to do with it. Everyone is saying to keep searching for god, but I dunno, it seems like you guys are doing pretty well the way things are.


delurking finally, just to say...

me too.

Marie Green

To me, going to church w/ my kids is about exposing them to the church family. I love that they have this entire community of really great people that are looking out for them. We are lucky to have that sense of a "family" in our small congregation. That being said, I want my children's experience w/ Christianity/religion to be very organic. To not be preached to about God's love, but to see it, feel it, and live it. The young man was a perfect example of this.


oh also,

the novels of Haven Kimmel are not only beautiful and true and compassionate and wise and hilarious, but they also deal with so many of these very issues. check her out. the solace of leaving early, something rising light and swift, and coming this september, the used world.

(no, i don't work for her. i just consider it my role in this great big world to introduce people to writing that can and will change them.)


I was raised Catholic. I went to a Catholic school for a 100 years and I totally abandoned my faith when i went away to college. I finally realized that this world was too scary to walk in without someone that I could turn to and feel loved. I am now back to really following my faith as an adult. Yeah the Church is not perfect but that is not G-d's fault its run by humans who make mistakes. To me my faith and my Church is giving me the strength to be a social worker and be faced with just plain horrible people who hurt children for the hell of it. I am marrying the man of my dreams and yeah its going to be in Church and my kids are going to be baptised and they are going to go Catholic school and if they fall away like I did when I got to college then at least they would have known G-d at some point. They will also have a mother who will pray for them every single day of her life. So yeah I think it would be lovely to introduce Noah to G-d and Noah's Ark is one heck of a good story:-D

shy me

Nice post

Girl of Steele

You wonder what happened to your faith and your fervor...I wondered what happened to mine.
Personally, I forgot what Jesus preached all along with his actions and started looking at other's actions as a reason to rule out God all together.
I finally started to realize, the people whom you and I despised from our childhood were also the people Jesus despised in His time.

Recommended reading:
James 1:27
Ecc. 7:20-22
Soul Searching by Erwin McManus
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Thanks for the amazing post.


I know where mine went. It went far, far away when the other little 5-year olds weren't allowed to play with my sister and I at our church because our parents were getting divorced and that made us sinners.

I like to think that I do the right thing as much as I can, that I appreciate all the many wonders that surround me every day, that I'm teaching my child to treat those around him well...and I wonder if that's enough and if those little kids and their fucking evil parents were right: that because I'm not with them in the building on Sundays that I'm going to burn in hell for eternity.

I think I need to get back to fretting about my next Botox appointment--that is SO much easier.


I have been feeling and wondering many of the same things lately. And, I decided just to check it out again -- worst case scenario, I just keep being godless.

Well, surprise, surprise, I found a really cool small church filled with smart and not creepy bible-thumping people. Christianity not Moral Majority-ism, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I'm digging it. More that I ever thought I would... actually look forward to Sundays now, just because I get to go to this church.

I think I had to just get over myself.


This week's Wonderland is about religion: http://www.alphamom.com/site/wonderland/

This is a sweet and touching post. If I may inject a note of agnosticism, it's possible (and, I think, desirable) to raise children with a sense of spirituality without making them adhere to any particular religion. Teaching them that an invisible man in the sky will ultimately sort things out for them not only ties their hands in terms of self-reliance, it makes them less attuned to making this world a better place, because they've got the next one to look forward to.

Teach them the good parts of your particular faith (love your fellow man, help if you can, appreciate the world around you) without teaching them that those qualities only apply if they believe the less-desirable parts of your particular faith (non-believers are in a state of sin, everything in your religious book is a good idea, your religion is superior because it's true). Oddly, those parts--both good and ill--are fairly consistent across monotheistic religions.


You might like this video; it provides some perspective.



Great post... it really made me think about so many choices that I am making in my life right now (see my blog for more about that... its somewhat complicated..) so I greatly appreciate your honesty. :)

Wacky Mommy

My dear husband, Hockey God, says to me a couple of years ago: "So you identify yourself as Christian, right?"

me: "No, I'm Baptist."

(Not just Baptist -- Arkansas Baptist, which is a whole different trip.) But I didn't feel at home in the type of Baptist church I grew up in, with all the "hit your mule with a two-by-four to get his attention." WTF? When we got together, my husband said he was agnostic, but now says he's atheist. So he didn't want to do the baptisms or christenings.

So I sprinkled the kids with holy water and crossed them when we went to Catholic church for a choir performance. Good enough.

Now my seven-year-old girl and I go to an awesome Unitarian church, with a huge congregation, tons of singing, left-wing politics, great community service work, and loads of kids, families and singles. My five-year-old boy and his dad stay home and eat waffles.

And scratch themselves.

(Just guessing on that one.)


Big Mama

Okay, I've been trying to comment all day but Typepad hates me and thinks I have nothing of value to say.

Anyway, I linked to this post. Beautiful writing and made me think about how my actions reflect my beliefs, more than anything else I've read in recent memory.


God is in you and Noah and everyone else. And God is in your actions. Like my friend says, there are people who bless you in church and give you the finger in the parking lot. It's better to be a good person and sleep late on Sundays then be a bastard who never misses church.


Hi, I just hopped over from Big Mama. Amazing post. I love the quote by St. Augustine which goes something like: "Preach the gospel; use words if you have to." I know I probably butchered it, but that young man at the restaurant was sure a faith builder, wasn't he? He just loved as a verb, not as a prosthelitizing know-it-all. I'll be back. Blessings to you in your quest.


OMG, I remember little girls just like you, out on the playground trying to save me from Hell Fire. And I felt so sorry for THEM! Went to church with one girl and it freaked me the heck out for life. She had eczema so bad on her hands and she said it was because she didn't pray hard enough or something & I thought, WOW. All the guilt & pressure & confusion and she was JUST A KID.


I don't know, I just don't believe that god is in me. I believe in humanity and spirituality but I don't think that has to necessitate a belief in god (or Jesus for that matter). My life is full and wonderful and I don't need religion to complete it. I believe I create my own destiny not god. On a separate note, I attended Quaker school growing up and, while I'm not religious and will never take my kids to church, I did find meeting for worship to be deeply moving and spiritually satisfying.


Great post as usual.

Funny i've aruged with my mom about my brothers name before. his name is Aaron which i associate with the bible and yet he has never been taught any faith. But now i feel aweful about it. My mom has a similar story to yours. I never thought how much her leaving the church must impact her.

Noah is so lucky to be able to read all these amazing thoughts one day!


I've been reading your blog since Noah was born...and I love how honest you are about everything. I hope that you continue to have these little God moments. My favorite reads have been the ones about your faith. I look forward to hearing more about life on the east coast!


I'm an atheist, and will never be anything else, but I grew up in a Church of England household. I went to church every Sunday, attended Sunday School, sang in the choir, stood behind stalls at every fair and soup lunch - and I do miss that sense of community, of unquestioning friendliness. It is sad that this kind of community seems to be lost now outside of religious groups.
I feel I want my children, if I have any, to have what I had, a whole extra family, but it feels like hypocrisy to attend church without having any belief.


I read your blog all the time, and have never commented, but today I feel the need to say something. I've read a lot of misguided feedback from this post. Granted, I know people mean well, but I just feel that after reading all 343 coments I needed to say something too.
I grew up in a Christian home all my life. I know the all the verses, songs, and ways to behave at church camp (by the way- did you guys get all emotional and cry and snot all over yourself the last night before going home, being sure to tell everyone how sorry you were for being an idiot to them all week and how you promise you would be the brightest light your school has ever seen??Ahh, camp memories.). I felt somewhat of a connection to you from reading this post. I know all the sunday school answers, and would feel that same sadness when I would see the non-Christians eating lunch next to our table while we discussed the morning's sermon. Heck, my husband is an ordained freaking minister! I was the sweet "minister's wife" for 2 years before Will and I made the decision to take a break from full time ministry for a while.

Oddly enough, we wound up in Kuwait. Ha- how much more "un-Baptist" of a place can you get!? Being here has been a spiritual struggle for me as I no longer have that church family I can lean on. It's opened my eyes to my own faith and the faith of others. It has made me truly realize how much I need God in my life. So often I would use the uptight judgemental people in the church where we served as my excuse for wanting to leave the ministry, but being here has made me realize that there will always be judgemental hypocrites in this world, but I should do my part to be what God intended Christians to be.

Hmm, Amalah, I think I'm rambling! I apologize. I guess what I want to say is that I pray the Lord guides you in the way to teach Noah about Jesus. Maybe he could go to a Vacation Bible School this summer (because, really, what's better than him handing you a macaroni picture of Jesus and the woman at the well that the teacher made and said Noah did!?). I know I don't know you, but I can relate to what you wrote. Sorry if this was all jumbled and useless, but at least I feel better now! :)
Have a great week.


Praise God the young man who was so bold without saying a word!

Please know that what God wants more than anything is a relationship with you and your family. What does that mean? He wants you to love Him and pray to Him. Knowing all the Bible stories are great, but the relationship is the key. If yours is lacking, ask Him to help you with it. Need more faith? Ask. Want to love Him with a passion? Ask. Need to let go of guilt? Ask. He didn't come to condemn, he came to guide and love. Hope this helps.


It is the kindness of God when he gets our attention in the most gentle ways. I know of an incredible church in the DC area - if you are ever interested.


My son's Noah's Ark puzzle, given to us by more religious relatives, is known in our house as "The Charles Darwin Boat".


Wow, that was a powerful post. Your heart is in the right place, wether you join a church or not, Noah can still know God and be close to Jesus. When he plays with his Noah's Ark set, tell him the bible story. Buy him a bible storybook and read it together. I guess what I'm saying is this: if you want to go to church, that's great, but belief doesn't need to be all-or-nothing, Noah can become a faithful believer just through you, if that's what you want. Who knows, someday he could be the helpful young man in the restaurant.


Thanks for this.


oh, amy, me too.
but the jewish version :)

Katie Haugk

Thank you so much for sharing this story, Amy.


I believe that religion is personal. Frankly I think people who pray in public are looking for some sort of validation that they are better than everyone else. And it worked on you....you felt guilty and began questioning the way that you are raising your son. God is not judgemental and I think way too may of the so called "good Christians" are precisely that. I am sure that we are doing a great job teaching our children values even though we dont feel the need to trot them off to church every week. I think spending quality time with parents probably instills a lot more than a Sunday morning sermon will.


I remember the first time someone commented that my son's name was very religious (Gabriel Michael) after two archangels. I remember being ashamed that the connection hadn't even occurred to me and we chose the name after Heath Ledger's character in The Patriot and my husband Mike's name. Regardless of how we got the name, I feel weird now when someone mentions the archangel connection.

For the last several weeks, we've been discussing returning to the church in which we were married. We had a falling out with them over incidents to do with our wedding and haven't been back in 6 years. We keep talking about going back though. Your post made me think about how we've been talking lately and how I feel when I look at my son and I wonder about my own lapse of faith. I think maybe it's time for us to stop talking and show up.

Very thought provoking post and what a nice young man to help you to your table! I wish there was more of that in the world. Thanks for this.


Religion is vestigial. It's a relic of the days when we had no good explanations for anything. Of course, many religious people are nice, and do nice things, like the guy you met. Other religious people fly planes into buildings. The catholic church was burning people at the stake as late as the 1850's in Mexico.

Just teach your child to be a nice person. The world needs more nice people. You don't need religion to do that.

It's about time we started acting based on verifiable facts rather than ancient superstitions. Especially when those superstitions are a basis for so much hatred when my superstitions don't match yours. If we all gave up religion, it'd be one less thing to kill each other over.

jean stockdale

I am a mom with two grown sons. I have loved the art of mothering and relished the incrediable men they have become, despite the mistakes I made. I am also a writer of Bible studies for moms from babies to adult children. Since you seem to be searching for something, would you let me send you one of my studies. I have found a rich and rewarding relationship with Jesus Christ. If you would allow me to share some of my insight with you, please contact me at my email address and I will drop it in the mail. Should you not be open to it, I totally understand and am even hesitate to share with you. But frankly, I have found the real deal and would love to tell you more about it. Jean Stockdale

Mrs Butter B

Amy, I thought of the song I was going to share yesterday, but forgot to.

It's "Do They See Jesus In Me?" by Joy Williams (one of my favorite teen singers, intro'd to me by my daughters' friends, now I'm hooked).

Its on her first CD mostly sweet & cheesy, but the second CD is much more edgy. http://www.joywilliams.com/


"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35. It looks like you saw the truth of Jesus' words being played out this weekend. I pray that God continues to reveal himself to you. Amazing post. Thanks for sharing.


A most beautiful and touching post.

My family is not very religious. We all believe in God and say our prayers to ourselves, but we have never shared in it with each other. I often wonder about what it is I am missing out on, and sometimes wish we did share it.

You just really said all this so well, and I'm sure that there are so many of us who feel the same way...


It's so nice to read this because more often than not you read about the Christian who turns those around him off by his judgmental words or falls from grace (i.e., the pastor who solicits a prostitute), so thank you for sharing the story of a Christian who is a true representative of the word's definition. And for Mel who thinks prayer in public is for those who seek validation - I think fear of praying in public is the more prevalent emotion - a la Amy's embarrassment as a child. This little light of mine - I'm gonna let it shine. That's what public prayer is - a shining light.

laughing mommy

This post really touched me. I've struggled too.

I grew up in a Christian home too, and with all the strange rules. Like you can put your feet in the creek on the Sabbath, but no swimming! What????

As an adult I had to study and decide what I believed for myself.

I had to distill it down to the very simplest of terms. Forget all the weird stuff and harsh rules that had gone on at church and Christian school.

I had to go back to the basics. Jesus free gift of salvation. Then end.

I still attend church and when anybody gets into a debate about meaningless rules that tear people apart and make others not want to come to church I like to think (if not say)...

"Don't try to add to the free gift."


Wow. What a post. Been reading you for awhile and always have been very distressed when you talk about how you have given up on God. Because of free will we can do that though it is not the right choice. Jesus loves all but He did give us absolutes. That do lead to consequences. And HE NEVER GIVES UP trying to bring us back into the fold as your story attests to. (And it also attests to the fact that your heart yearns for Him too. By the fact that you were so affected.)

And THANK YOU! For making me think of my own behavior as a professing Christian. I took my recycling to be redeemed and the line was HUGE because the gal hadnt arrived on time to set up in time and then took 45 minutes to get everything ready PAST the opening time. I started getting VERY huffy and puffy and debated saying something but for some reason didnt.

When it was my turn, I TRIED to be kind and ask her how she was doing and if the place was so out of kilter because of the weekend. Her face TOTALLY lit up and she started spilling out the details and how hard it was when everyone dumps on her but she HAS to clean up before opening and people use it as a dumping ground. She was so happy someone was being nice.

OH MY GOSH was I humbled because I knew what a bitch I was in my own mind just moments before. And I literally saw before my eyes what a difference in my own witness can happen if I just practice what I preach.

And that leads to this, what another reader said, we are all human, every church is flawed, but we go there to worship Him who is not and who hopefully will polish our flaws if we let Him.

Some people are judgemental, without hearts or tact. But some truly care, like YOU DID on the playground, they just dont' know how to go about showing it the right way.

I care. Your little family is so dear to read about. And I hope you are blessed with its expansion if/when you are ready. Prayers are with you.

oh, and here is the scolding part, the f-bombs? Cringe worth sometimes. and JUST WAIT - Noah WILL drop one, one day, in the WORST POSSIBLE TIME AND PLACE. My hubby (former f-bomber) can attest to that!!


Your post really hit home with me. I often wonder about the same for my son, Matthew. Thanks for a beautiful post!


wow, thanks.


I wish my parents had never forced me to go to church. I always had doubts. When I finally learned that there were hundreds of religions and no one actually knew which was right, I rebeled so hard that ten years later I still have an incredibly negative and resentful view of religion that I'm trying to overcome.

This post and the comments have really given me a good look at my parents' motivation in dragging my whining ass to church every week for 18 years, so thank you very much for that. I could tell they didn't have very strong beliefs and I've never understood why they (mom especially) were so deadset on us going to church.

Assvice: Whatever you do, don't lie and say they'll never be able to get married if they don't Confirm beliefs they don't have. They'll be SUPER pissed when they find out.


More than once you have written a post that I just can't get out of my head. You have an amazing talent...and such a wonderful, open, seeking heart. I remember your post about how you felt about Noah...it made me cry. I'm also having problems with my religion and faith right now. I have a lot of faith, but religion just doesn't seem to be able to take that anywhere or do anything with it. The churches I've attended and been members of don't dig deep enough, or they say "this is so because it is so" and not why. And they're not open to debate. Also - I'm feeling very distant from my husband right now because he told me recently that he doesn't belive Jesus was divine. This is something I was taught my whole life - that He was divine and that He died for my sins. And now he's watching the religious channel - and slamming it every chance he gets. I don't know how to reconnect with him.


I just wanted to add: to Mel - I think praying in public has nothing to do with looking good in front of anyone and everything to do with being thankful. I know that all too often I'm not brave enough to pray in public when I'm not with my husband (who no longer prays "in Jesus name, Amen" but says "by your grace, absolutely". It just weirds me out.)

And to Mike who called religion vestigial and a relic and said we need to focus on verifiable facts...well, I'm not sure what to say...except - that I hope you have all the love & kindness in your life that you suggest would be possible in a world without religion.

Amy - I wish I was more like you.


I don't know if I can add anything of worth to the comments made by those above...except to just say that this post warmed my heart. I like hearing about God in action :)


Some assvice for those in the Gaithersburg area. I go to a WONDERFUL church, Journey's Crossing, that embodies the TRUE teachings of Jesus. Love & unconditional acceptance. No judgement here. I grew up Southern baptist and had the same "bad" feelings about faith. However, I was able to reconnect here with my Savior through people who truly accept others as they are and love them unconditionally. www.ilovethischurch.com


As I read, I couldn't help but wonder, "What if he had helped you and then didn't pray over his food." ?

It's as if you associated his kindness, his unselfish acts as a product of his faith, not because he was simply raised well and had good manners.

If you go back to a time before the bible was written, before Jesus was born, before there was a church or sunday mass, you will find people who raised their children to be kind and to help others unselfishly.

If you only help people because you fear that something horrible awaits you after death if you don't, then what kind of person are you ?

Much of religion is based upon fear, guilt, pain, sacrifice, torture for all time.

Just do as I say, follow my path, give me your money, don't question my word and I will make sure that you are saved from all of the horrible things that await you after you die.

Just purchase my ever lasting tonic water of faith for only $19.99 and you too can be saved.

A good con man knows how to work a crowd.


Beautiful post. I have never commented before today, but I would like to offer another book suggestion: If Grace Is True (subtitled Why God Will Save Every Person) by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Even though I was raised a Southern Baptist and converted to Catholicism after I married my husband, this book by two Quaker ministers is one of the best I have ever read. In fact, I started re-reading it for the third time just a few days ago. I hope you can locate a copy of your own, but I'd be happy to send you mine when I'm done.

God bless you and your sweet family.



I know there have been a zillion posts, but I wanted to add something because I haven't seen any other posts by a Muslim.

The first pillar of Islam is belief, because without faith what point is there following the religion?

So, I think the most important thing is to realise what God means or is to you. Once you are sure of that (whatever you decide), you will find it much easier knowing what to tell Noah.

By the way, Noah (with the Ark)(peace be upon him) is also considered a Prophet in Islam.

For anyone who would like to know more about Islam, here is a good site:


Wow, beautiful post. I grew up going to a Baptist chuch and church (and God) was the first thing I rebelled against when I turned 18. I walked a long, hard path to get back to where I am today. I go to church now, though NOT a baptist church. The hardest part for me coming back was realizing I'm not going to be the christian my mother is. And that's okay! God loves me for me, and I don't have to pretend to totally understand the bible and I can still be me and he will always love me. My understanding of Him is mature now and I get so much more out of my spirituality now that it fits my life and me.


Yeah, we all struggle, sometimes esp. if we're steeped in church while growing up. but when it all came down, and i watched how other people lived their lives, I saw that even the ones who claim to be nonreligious or faithless worship something, worship somewhere. I think the worst god of all is Self. Thanks for a great, vulnerable honest post.

Kathy/ Lessons from the Laundry

Have you read Anne Lamott? Pick up Traveling Mercies. She is screwed up, honest to the bone and funnier than heck, yet she finds what she is seeking.

There are lots of places to look. The journey can be fun, don't feel pressure to fit a mold. Go to where it feels comfortable. God will meet you there.



Angels walk among us. We learn things everyday.


I wonder - do you, can you, possibly read and process all of these responses? In any case....

This makes me wonder (marvel) at the mystery of how many of us from similar backgrounds respond differently. I was raised in a Pentecostal church and did the not-uncommon wandering during college. Years and years later, my faith defines me. Not someone else's standards, but God's, cause me to continually check myself and aim to do better. Because I love Him and know I'm honored and blessed with the opportunity to show my affection with my life every day. "Life if God's gift to you. What you do with that life is your gift to God."

Yet so many others have apparently chosen paths far, and intentionally far, from their upbringing in faith. I wonder if it is because we, as mere people, have such a hard time distinguiushing God from the people who do screwy stuff in his name?

Ironically, I first found you, Amalah, through a post a friend copied to me about your H.S. reunion and all the garbage that went along with those memories. And here you are again, wondering at the wounds of your past, the decisions you have made because of them, and what those decisions mean on a larger scale.

I pray you find answers to some of those questions. "I do not know all the answers, but I know the One who does."



I can also relate in so many ways - went to a strict K-12 Christian school in PA, the prayer thing and even can relate to being at Friendly's. I have read your post over and over, and you have put into words so many of my thoughts. Thank you.


Just a thought: it certainly is possible to teach your son to be a kind and moral person without all the negative "baggage" that can come with Christianity. I am extremely thankful that my parents never took me to church. I was able to go later in life and make my own decisions about whether or not I wanted to be a part of that.


Amy, I really doubt you will read all these many comments, but I want to add my two cents. I was raised Catholic; fell away when my parents both died before I was 14. One of the classic arguments 1) The world sucks, so God doesn't matter/exist 2) The world gets along just fine, so God doesn't matter/exist.

My eldest daughter led me back to faith by asking why we didn't go to church? (She was 5 at the time). I said, "Do you want to go to Church?" The answer was yes, so to church we went. For a Catholic, no matter how fallen away, for me that meant the Catholic Church, so that is where we went. Not that Sunday, but at a later one, I discovered a note about "Remembering Church", that offered me a way back if I chose. I agonized over it, but eventually went. I am everlastingly grateful--there have been times on a Sunday morning that my daughter was --mmmm less than grateful.

But, that is me, and this is about you and your family. My best advice on this is to pray as my brother (another fallen away Catholic, but not returned) says that he prays. He prays only to do God's will, whatever that may be. I believe, that if you ask for that, you will find it. Best of luck to you in all that you do. (PS - Noah is adorable!)


I am only 20 years old. I've grown up in a Christian home, gone to church my entire life, been part of Bible studies, etc. and now I go to a Christian University.
Despite all this, I never thought about having faith on my own terms- not my parents, my friends, or anyone else, until the last two years.
And now I've never struggled more with doubting why I do any of this. I have come so far from being the sheltered kid I was, but now I wonder...where am I? I've stoppped going to church because I'm so burned out. I look at people who I know are Christians and I scoff at them in my head because I've seen so many hypocrites, inlcuding myself. Most nights I end up laying in bed, wanting to pray but frustrated because I don't remember how and because I'm angry at God and the church and Christians. And I don't know why.

But through this confusion and questioning what's truth and what I should be focusing my life on, no matter how many times I've thought "what if what I believe in doesn't exist?" somehow I've always known God was still there, even when I barely believed it.

Reading your post was like reading my own thoughts. One of my friends (actually, my old Bible study leader) gave me the link to your site, which I'm very glad to have found. I know that faith is something I'm going to struggle with my entire life, but I guess there come times when you have to choose whether to listen when your soul cries out, or continue muffling the sound.


I remember stressing about the fate of our fellow restaurant patrons to the point that I was unable to eat

This is kind of the problem I have with most major religions. That's a horrible load of guilt to lay on a child.

It may sound a bit churlish, but it appears that the young man who helped you in the restaurant was a gentleman who also happened to be religious, not a gentleman because of his religion (at least, your post didn't indicate that he was polite to you specifically because his religion ordered him to be). It's nice that he was kind, but it doesn't appear to be a direct product of his faith; I know many kind people who also happen to be atheists.


the beautiful thing is you can have all the good parts of that man's lesson without christianity or any religion.

grafted branch

Great post generating a wide variety of comments. Well. What to say to all of that?

It sounds like a lot of people were exasperated to wrath as children. My dad sure was. Only the Spirit of God can overcome that; it's tragic.

I, meanwhile, was raised an atheist, and lived like one for 27 years. I had a very happy little life. I was sympathetic, empathetic, relatively considerate--even kind at times.

And then God showed me the hole in my "heart," and the Spirit of God hovered and pointed me to my need for His provision of Jesus Christ. The hole was cross-shaped.

I can say that without a doubt, God is true. The Son is a True Savior. The Spirit is a true Teacher and Comforter.

Truth is not relative. Do not be talked out of what the Lord of the universe--who loves you so much--is trying to show you.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you...


Grace is cool.

And what you wrote was a sweet reminder that most of the time simply being thoughtful is a far more effective way of witnessing than ranting and judging.

It'd be nifty if the average person's first impression of Christians was "My, what kind people," and not, "Boy, what judgmental a-holes."


OK. All of the time. It's all of the time more effective.


I agree with Trish (just above). I was raised Latter-Day-Saint and my parents were so strict about it that I never really "felt anything" growing up in regard to faith, but I did feel the pressure to be perfect. I spent hours and hours at meetings and church camps, and writing about the, erm, 'faith' I had in the front page of the Book of Mormon so that I could give it to my friends ( I never did) at weeknight church activities. Which by the way were all run by my mother.

Naturally as I got older, I realized that I wasn't going to be killed in a car accident or stricken down by a bolt of lightning if I did something my parents had told me wasn't right. But after a couple of years I wanted to go back to church, maybe hoping for the lack of pressure I felt when I was really little, but without the pioneer outfits!

After attending church fairly regularly (with a few instances of blowing up in frustration) I am just starting to realize that it is something almost 180 degrees different than what I was raised with. (Did you know Mormons can actually READ the Bible?) Which in my case is a good thing.

So, case and point, if you miss that feeling of faith that I was lucky enough to have for a short while as a kid, find a church you feel might suit you and try it for a week. Or two, or however many. Like an experiment. If you like it and feel better, keep going. If not, don't. Or try another church and start again. People around here call it 'church shopping.' But the idea is for you to be happy, either way.


What a very cool post. Thanks.


Amy, I'm so glad you wrote this post. I was raised a Lutheran, but I was always really half-hearted about it. I would recite the liturgies and sing the hymns, while waiting to feel something about it, but I never did. We had Ryan and Nathan baptized because my parents wanted us to.

While I was pregnant with Kaitlyn I started taking the boys to my friend's church (as in, her husband is the minister there). I thought since it was one of those modern churches where you sit on folding chairs and listen to a "rock" band play that I would be comfortable there. Only, one Sunday while listening to my friend's husband preach about some bible story where a woman's fields suddenly grew crops out of the dust, and how it was a miracle because she had prayed to Jesus, I realized that I DIDN'T BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.

So now I wonder how to explain to Kaitlyn why her brothers are baptized and she isn't. It's all very confusing to me, too.

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