On Spirituality: Thoughts of a Buddhist’s wife.

If you had asked me 15 years ago what my faith was, I would have given a simple answer. I was Christian that thoroughly loved the Catholic tradition. Most if not all of my faith, and subsequently moral compass, was 100% based on what my parents taught me was the “correct” way to live. We didn’t go to church much, but that didn’t change my parent’s (primarily my mother) staunch views on what it meant to be a good Christian. The outlook most heavily impressed upon me and my siblings was that every other faith was wrong, and the classic hell fire and damnation if we ever strayed from the path. I can’t even recall how many times this caused me to argue and cry to friends because I couldn’t bear the idea that they would suffer while I would go to heaven. All because they didn’t believe as I was taught…

“Most if not all of my faith, and subsequently moral compass, was 100% based on what my parents taught me was the “correct” way to live.”

And then I met Jim. 

We were in 11th grade, Ms. Katz Algebra 2 class, I was trying to finish my homework before class started. (No, I wasn’t a terribly good student.) The boys in class seemed to be having a paper football war across the classroom. I grew up with three brothers, so these things were easy to ignore. That is, until a paper football hit me squarely in the side of my head and flopped on my desk. Naturally I was furious and was fully prepared to give the perpetrator a piece of my mind to feast upon. I turned, and there he was, full on grinning and he started saying he was sorry over and over. I had noticed him in class and periodically the year before, but now I truly saw him. And I couldn’t help but to think, “I’m going to marry him”. Little did I know how right I was… Though we didn’t date for a couple years, we became fast friends. Even back then I saw him reading about Buddhism in class, though then he insisted it was simply of passing interest. (Ok, maybe none of this is specifically important to the point, but my little romantic Libra heart insists on everyone knowing the story.)

So eventually we dated and later eloped. While I would have been ok with a civil union by a judge, it made it all more real that we were wed by an actual pastor. We had our ups and downs, but he was still my best friend and partner in God’s eyes. We could talk forever about faith, Jesus, and the Bible. Even at my lowest and deepest depression after being told I would never conceive naturally, we were still united in faith. Or at least that’s what I thought I knew.

After four years of trying to conceive, I had given up trying. I left it to God. The last prayer I had about a child was that I could be blessed with a baby for Christmas. I didn’t hold out any hope as I was well aware of my PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and my ever absent cycle. About mid January I started to vomit constantly and couldn’t bear strong scents. I “knew” it was nothing, but asked Jim to pick up a test just so we could rule it out. The first time I ever waited until morning to test. I was ready for the answer I always got, but it was positive. The only time in 4 years, I had a positive pregnancy test. This only solidified my faith, that it was meant to be. Years later I would calculate the conception date to be December 24th or 25th. A sweet sentiment.

So after an emotionally turbulent pregnancy (for many reasons), and an equally scary birthing as our first arrived not breathing and had to be resuscitated, I had lost a lot of blood during birthing, yet I was still fully resolved in my faith. …But my husband was not. I didn’t even realize how much his faith had been shaken or how he had changed. Looking back it’s of no surprise, parental issues, my undiagnosed Postpartum depression, and well, when it rains, it pours. 

Thinking back, it kills me that my husband had to rediscover his spirituality on his own. But I still remember the day I discovered he had “lost his faith” in the Abrahamic god. I was broken and hurt over the thought that me and my husband no longer shared the same faith. I didn’t know how to cope. And a dear friend said to me “you didn’t marry him because of his faith”. But didn’t I? I didn’t know anymore.

Our daughter was only 5 months old when lent rolled around. I wanted to give up meat as was an old tradition. Hubs agreed and away we went. At the end he said he wanted to continue. Something about “if you take the life of a sheep, you are destined to become one on the next life”. So I agreed, because why not? I wanted to give his beliefs the same credulance he gave mine.

So years go by with this same give and take. I don’t know how I could rediscover my spirituality without him. But not only my spirituality, my true self. Somehow I let go of what I was taught, and I let myself trust in what I always believed. I became something MORE.

What his or my faith is now, well it’s not so important. And it’s more complex than my 15 year old self could comprehend faith being. We believe in something more. I believe in something more. Four kids and years later I’m still learning that my spirituality isn’t cut and dry. It’s not simple, nothing only one book, church, temple, or faith could teach. Yet I am more fulfilled now than I ever was in the words of a singular belief system. I AM MORE.

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