As my children grow into teenagers, I’m enjoying hearing their latest music choices in the car on whatever journey we are taking on any given day. As much as I love to listen to the radio or podcasts, I’m always interested to hear what music they are enjoying and relating to at that moment.
What has surprised me is the number of ‘old’ songs they are discovering and equally how surprised they are when I start singing along enthusiastically, only to be asked, “Do you know this song?” When I tell them that the song was from my era, they are excited to know more. It has definitely sparked endless discussion and I find myself not feeling so ‘old’ anymore.
Recently, they discovered the song, ‘Losing My Religion’ by R.E.M, which brought back many memories. I hadn’t really thought about the words before, and it got me thinking of the bigger picture:
“Oh life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me…”
Songwriters: Peter Lawrence Buck/ Michael E. Mills/ William Berry/ Michael J. Stipe (R.E.M)
Life is definitely bigger than all of us and my teenagers and I have been talking and engaging in discussion about religion recently on our car journeys. I wonder if most teenagers go through a stage of questioning religion, religious institutions, the existence of God, their place in the universe etc. as they go on their own journey of discovery into who they are and what their purpose is in the world. I have had to deal with many questions of ‘Why do we believe in God?’ or ‘Is God real?’ or ‘Why doesn’t God help me?’ I have learned to answer questions by asking another question: ‘Why are you asking?’ or ‘Do you think God is real?’ ‘What does it feel like when he is helping?’ It has been an interesting journey but what their journey of discovery has triggered is my own journey of rediscovery.
We live in East Lothian in Scotland, having moved back here at the beginning of 2020 during the global pandemic. Covid caused us a great deal of upheaval and its effects are still being felt. Since we left South Africa and the warmth of our religious blanket and regular participation in church societies there, we were left a bit in the cold in New Zealand, where we lived for 1 year, and now in Scotland. We have struggled to find our feet and attended church with my mum at her local church, but we’ve all felt we’re missing something. My youngest daughter even at one point felt she was losing her religion and couldn’t see the bigger picture. I explained that it’s okay to feel disconnected, and to question but that in time things will be clearer.
I have also felt isolated but one positive aspect of Covid was the various live streamed or recorded sermons and services that have now appeared in the New Church sphere which we are able to watch no matter where we live. I love to connect to Westville New Church, which we attended for many years. Following a recent trip to Boulder, Colorado to visit family there, we attended the Boulder New Church and am now inspired to watch their live streamed services each Sunday evening (UK Time).
The biggest discovery for me is Logopraxis. I was looking for a way to connect with the Word in a more meaningful way and thanks to Erik Buss, who is currently based in the UK, through our discussions, he put me in touch with David Millar and I’ve been participating in the practice for a few months now. I look forward to each week and the work I do in the intervening weeks to prepare for the class and enjoy the interaction and learning from others perspectives and insights in our sessions. The practice has helped me in my relationships with others as I become more mindful of the Lord’s presence in my daily life and interactions with others and even with myself and my inner life.
It has been a real journey of rediscovery for me and I’m definitely not losing my religion but finding my religion and growing my connection to the Lord and the beautiful world he has created. It has meant our religious discussions are more fruitful, interesting, and our discussions even inspired my two eldest teenagers to attend BASS summer camp recently. Although it was tough at first, they came home reinspired, reconnected, and fulfilled from their connection with other like-minded teenagers and warmed by the support and wisdom of those who facilitated the camp.
So, the words of the song resonate:
“Oh Life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me…”
Life is bigger than you or me and the Lord’s presence in it gives it meaning. Thankfully, we are not losing our religion but discovering or rediscovering it in ways that resonate and work for each of us in our own ways in our journey to find connection with the Lord. Let’s hope each of our journeys continue to grow our connection and love of the Lord more and more with each passing year.
Have you ever questioned your faith in the Lord? Have you dealt with children or teenagers questioning their faith? How have you dealt with it? I’d love to hear other’s experiences and journeys of discovery.