I grew up Catholic. I went to a Catholic school when I was younger. I am a preschool teacher at a Baptist church. Despite the role religion has played in my life, I have something to confess–I do not go to church each Sunday.
A couple of months ago, I went to lunch with some co-workers of mine, and they all began to talk about the churches they attend and some of their favorite guest speakers that they had heard during Sunday services. I hadn’t chimed in with any stories from my church (I don’t attend the Catholic church near our house often, and I’ve never registered as a member there). I wondered how I should join in the conversation. I was a little embarrassed when I admitted to the women at the table, “I don’t go to church each Sunday. I’m one of those people that attend services on holidays.” I was nervous that they would think I was an awful, non-religious, non-believing person. Not go to church on Sundays, and we all work for a church school? How in the world can you not go to church but be a religious person? Seriously?
The response from them surprised me. One woman at the table said, “I don’t think you have to go to church to have a strong belief and faith in God. Living his word is more important than visiting a structure to pray.” Everyone at the table agreed. As I reflected on her words, I thought of my own relationship with God. It was true, I have a strong belief in God. I pray and talk with Him daily. I try to live in Grace, I believe in helping others and choosing kindness. I thank God each day for all my blessings and what I have. I read the Bible and reflect on the words often. When I started working at preschool, I questioned what I could bring to the classroom and what could I provide to the children in my class. I prayed to God often and asked him what my purpose was. One day as I was talking to God, I was questioning how I was making a difference in these children’s lives. I heard a little voice say to me, “You are their teacher to speak to them and teach them about God, how much God loves them, and the importance of showing love and kindness to others.” Sure, the children spend time practicing letters and numbers, and they make crafts and have fun; but I have really tried to connect all my teaching back to God’s love, the importance of living God’s word, and ways we all can serve and take care of others.
Yes, I do not attend Sunday services weekly to show my dedication to God. But I believe my love for him is just as strong as those that do. I don’t think you have to visit a structure to believe–you just have to live a life He would expect of you.