Losing My Religion – A Journey of Rediscovery

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. 

About Anne Waters

Anne is a wife, mother and career woman. She is married to Gary and has 3 children. She grew up in Scotland and went to Edinburgh University where she got an MA in Japanese. She moved to London after University and spent the next 10 years working for various Japanese and American companies using her Japanese and gaining valuable business skills. It was in London that Anne met Gary and decided to get married and have children. After their second child was born, they moved to Durban in South Africa, where they live now and where Gary is from originally. Their third child was born in South Africa. Anne is now able to be a full time mother to their three children, whilst teaching Japanese and English as a Foreign Language during the hours the children are at school. Anne was raised in the Church of Scotland and came to the New Church through marriage and has spent the last 7 years in South Africa delving deeper into the writings of the New Church with the support, love and friendship of other like-minded women in the New Church in Westville.

4 thoughts on “Losing My Religion – A Journey of Rediscovery

  1. I really love this, Anne! Very powerful to read your process.

    As someone who has never really doubted or questioned God or His presence, it’s something I’m pretty afraid of having come up with our kids. I’m worried I won’t be able to relate to such struggles and will push them further away with my certainty. Who knows—maybe my crisis of faith is coming! But I really like your approach of remembering to answer with questions—open a space of curiosity and safety to discuss and explore. Maybe because I felt I had that growing up I never got to a place of bigger doubts? Who can say. But I like that approach and hope I have the wisdom to remember to respond that way when the time comes.

    Blessings to you on your journey. I hope you may all feel more settled and grounded. Sending love

  2. Wonderful piece, Anne! I believe the Writings talk about the fact that we need to ask questions in order to move past “historical faith” (believing what our parents/teachers told us) to a faith that we have purposefully chosen as an independent adult, otherwise our faith never belongs to us/never becomes real. It’s definitely a challenge for a parent to let their kid go through whatever process they need to go through in order to move from the one stage to the other. I think the passages that talk about the difference between the negative and affirmative attitudes during our doubting process are really important and very useful to explain to teens, not to mention reminding ourselves. When I was a child, my family lived far away from other New Church people, and there weren’t nearly so many resources then as we have now, so I am glad you have ways to connect, even though it’s not the same as connecting in person – but it does the job, and it sounds like you are finding new ways to connect and to bring good out of your current situation. Good for you!

  3. It’s great that you encourage questions and discussion with the kids. Lots of talking about things seems to matter at this age especially. I hope they can engage with what the writings call “affirmative doubt.” I hope we will get to talk about it all some time soon. Thank you for writing and sharing.

  4. What a journey this discovery of faith is, eh, Anne? Thanks for sharing with us. That’s wonderful that you found Logopraxis, and that it’s feeding your soul! -I just began LP earlier this year, myself, and am enjoying it, too – although I live in a New Church society, and can imagine what a lifeline it may get be for you!

    Meanwhile, I love these conversations that you’re having with your kids. I have one teen, a boy, who rarely says more than “Fine”, certainly doesn’t *ask* questions, and whose choice of music doesn’t usually involve lyrics! 😂 What a beautiful opportunity for you to engage with your kids, though – a blessing from Above, no doubt. 😊 Enjoy!

    (…And P.S. I still have that tune going through my head…. 😄 Thanks!)

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