When I was a kid, my immediate family wasn’t particularly religious. We weren’t particularly unreligious either, more like religiously neutral. Except for the yearly encounter with that one aunt who was certain that we were all going straight to hell and felt it was her responsibility to verbally pummel us until we saw the error of our ways, it wasn’t much of an issue at all.
But then, after I left home, it seems like everybody got religion. OK, not everybody, but many of the key players did. And when I say “religion,” I don’t mean Buddhism or Judaism or Zoroastrianism. I mean that old-time Protestant religion, complete with old-fashioned choirs and full-emersion baptisms.
I don’t have a problem with that. I really don’t. I’m pretty much a live and let live person. As long as you’re not using your religion as an excuse to hurt other people, whatever you believe is fine with me. I’ll happily participate in any rituals where my presence is wanted. I’ll pray and sing and read along in any Holy book. Without straying too far from the point of this post, I’ll just say that I think we’re all trying to connect with the same thing and however you want to do that is OK with me.
But this shift in my family culture sort of left me feeling confused and out of place sometimes. Suddenly there were a new procedures. Like saying grace before eating dinner. I wasn’t trained to say grace as a child and it just doesn’t occur to me that it should be said. When Slag and I go visit my family and sit down to dinner, he and I have already finished our first helping of potatoes and are reaching for another roll when mom asks step-dad if he wants to say the blessing. Slag and I both drop our forks, swallow what’s in our mouths and look around guiltily while the blessing gets said, hoping we haven’t offended anyone by eating food that hasn’t been properly blessed. Then Slag gives me his sideways incredulous look, which silently says “Why didn’t you tell me?? It’s your responsibility to inform me of the proper procedures when we’re visiting your family!”
And then I look back at him apologetically, as if to say “Crap! I keep forgetting….”
It happens every single time we visit. If anyone has any suggestions about how I can remember that we have to say grace before we eat in certain places, please let me know. I’ll be eternally grateful.
The other thing that I don’t yet fully grasp is how the devil now gets credit for anything bad that happens and Jesus gets credit for the good stuff. It leaves me a little bewildered sometimes, but I’ve only had a problem with it once.
At my sister’s wedding reception, a family friend gave her handful of cash as a wedding gift. The gift was wonderful, but the wisdom of handing a large amount of cash to a woman who is wearing a strapless floor-length gown, with no obvious pockets of any kind, is questionable. She handed the cash off to my step-father who stuffed it in his pocket. Well, somewhere between the reception and arriving home, the cash disappeared. We all thought it probably fell out of his pocket in the large grassy parking lot when he pulled out his car keys.
The next day my mom and I had to go back out to the reception site to pick up a few final things and mom thought we should at least look around in the parking lot. I was sure it was a lost cause and didn’t want to waste the time, but after just a few seconds of driving around near the spot where their car had been parked, I spotted the wad of money.
“Stop! I see it!” I jumped out of the car and grabbed the money.
Woohoo! I was a hero! I was so proud of myself. I pranced into the house when we got home, waving the money over my head and obnoxiously singing “I-found-the-MO-ney-I found-the-MO-ney” and everybody was happy and relieved.
But then my mom piped up in the middle of my victory dance and said “Well, I said a little prayer to myself and I guess somebody was listening.”
Which left me standing there, all indignant, with my hands on my hips. WTF??
So that’s how things work now? Jesus gets credit for MY accomplishments?? *I* found the money, with my own two sharp eyes and she’s giving all the credit to somebody else?
That wasn’t right at all. I wanted the appreciation, the acclaim, the recognition. I spotted the cash, dammit, and I wanted ALL the credit for it. I was not interesting in sharing credit with Jesus for finding that money.
I made my displeasure known to everyone, as humorously as possible, and we all laughed. But I don’t think mom ever retracted the money-finding acclaim that she gave Jesus and bestowed it on me instead, as she should have. Nonetheless, Jesus and I both know who really found that money. It was me.
That’s the only major issue Jesus and I have had to date. As long as He is OK with not getting credit for my accomplishments and me sometimes eating unblessed food, I guess we’ll be able to co-exist peacefully in the family. But I was here first.