It was the Friday before Valentines Day and my Husband forwarded me an invitation over text message. The invitation was from his clinic partner for his daughter’s “Dedication” on that Sunday at their Christian Assembly Church. My husband asked me if it was something that we should go to.
We are not a religious family by any stretch of the imagination. I was raised Catholic and I consider myself educated in the tenants of Christianity, as well as the basics of other major World Religions from classes I took in university. My husband would identify himself as “agnostic,” although I would argue he falls more on the side of strong atheist. We have had many
arguments discussions about how to raise our children when it comes to religion and I eventually just gave up on him.
In response to my husband’s question, I told him that it was something important to his partner and that it would be a nice gesture for us to attend. So, he sent the RSVP to his friend and we prepared to attend a Sunday Church service together… for the first time ever.
It just so happened that on this weekend, my Mother was visiting us from out of town. My Mother is on the complete opposite end of the religious spectrum from my Husband: She is a prophesied born again, Evangelical Christian who belongs to circles of self-proclaimed prophets and the likes. I have worked very, very, hard to establish boundaries around religion when it comes to my Mom – and these do fail at most opportunities. As you can imagine, my Mother was beaming when I told her we were attending a Christian Service that Sunday, and Of Course she would be honoured to attend the service with us.
Sunday morning after filling up on a rather rushed breakfast, we all piled into our SUV to drive across the city to the Christian Assembly Church. I could feel my Mother’s smugness emanating from the back seat of the car and I was already beginning to worry about the conflict that would certainly arise following the service. I hadn’t been to Church with my mother since I was a teenager and I had no choice but to go with her after the weekly reciting of the “My House, My Rules” speech.
I signed up the boys for the pre-school Sunday School class and we found ourselves some seats half-way down the congregation. We stood during the Worship – My Mother on one side of me swaying to the music, with her arms open and giving praise, and my Husband on the other side, shifting his weight uncomfortably. I felt a strange surge of emotion, knowing that my Mother was in her element while my Husband was just using every ounce of energy not to leave the service. For me, the worship was exactly what I expected it to be: not foreign but not familiar. Not uncomfortable by any means.
After the Worship we sat down and listened to a guest Pastor and his wife talk about Marriage. That was the theme of the day – Marriage in the Bible, and how to apply it to the modern day marriage. I found some of the information presented to be interesting and inspiring. I resisted the urge to look over at my Mother, who was contently listening despite the fact that she has never been remarried and still hold significant resentment towards my father and her divorce from 25 years ago. I was beginning to predict the criticisms I would hear later from my Husband. Finally, the service was over. We collected the boys from preschool class and piled back into the SUV to drive to the Dedication Brunch.
We drove for a little while before my Mom started: “That was a beautiful Service, wasn’t it? So much interesting information. What did you guys think?” Why does she have to start these conversations? I’ve been through this with her before.
“It was nice.” My husband replied.
I quickly shifted the conversation to ask the boys about what they did at the Sunday School – They talked mostly about crafts and playing with toys. I was relieved that this strategy worked. I said my own little prayer hoping that this would be the end of the “church discussion” between my Husband, my Mother, and I.
Thankfully that was it. We enjoyed the brunch together, congratulated my husband’s co-worker on their daughter’s dedication, and proceeded to go on with our Valentines day.
Later that evening, as my Husband and I drove away from the house on our way to our Valentines Day date, he started the conversation:
“That Church service was interesting today. I’ve never been to a Church that plays live music and has such relevant and modern sermons. I think maybe I’ve misjudged the role of church.”
I tried to keep my eyeballs in their sockets!
This, coming from the man who absolutely refused to entertain the idea of sending out kids to Catholic school for fear of indoctrination! Even with my efforts over all our years together to explain to him that religion/faith has a lot of offer, even if it is just learning the stories and parables in the Bible. I told him, many times, that “God” can represent anything you want it to – it doesn’t have to refer to the Omniscient Creator, if you don’t want it to. He never seemed to care… Until that Valentines Sunday, that is.
“As I was listening to the Pastor, I realized that even though he talked about God a lot, God can be anything you want it to be. When I thought of it that way, what he said about Marriage seemed to be really good advice.”
So I can tell him that numerous times over the years of our courtship and Marriage, but he won’t believe it until we actually go to Church???
“I think there is a lot of value in what they were saying today. I think, maybe, our family could benefit from doing something like this every week.
I almost fell out of the car! “You mean, you want to start going to Church, every week?” I asked my Husband.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind giving it a try.”
And so, at the request of my beyond atheist, cynical Husband, we have been attending the Christian Assembly Church every Sunday since Valentines Day.