I thought I lost my faith until I found it in my kids

August 7 2013 | Guest post by Darlena Cunha
Photo by Darlena.
My children do not know who my god is. They've never heard of him.

They're three.

It happened when I was 18. I was going to an all-girls Catholic college, and one morning — a particularly chilly late-autumn morning in Massachusetts — I looked up at the chapel, and I couldn't feel him. He was gone. It took a bit of adjusting. For 18 years I'd believed in him. To just stop, well, it was jarring.

He never came back.

All through my twenties — through the parties, the grades, the jobs, the boyfriends — I flitted by, needing no super power to help me or to ground me. I had me. I was enough. And I was busy, too busy for the god I believed in, certainly too busy for prayer. I was moving my feet. Of course, I didn't know or care where they were taking me.

It was nearly ten years later when I felt my abandonment validated.

There I was, just turned 26, ready to burst with the twins inside of me. Two weeks before I had them, my husband lost his job. The house we'd recently bought for nearly a quarter million dollars was no longer worth what we owed. I was right, I thought smugly. If the god I believed in were real, how would He allow this to happen to two innocent infants?

I moved my feet again. This time toward my god, or so I thought. I figured maybe if I believed again, this god would believe in me, or at least help me make a better life for my babies.

I took a job as a journalist for a church. My boss was a priest. My god wasn't there. If he was there, he was hidden under selfishness, greed, anger, misogyny and outlandish power struggles. At any rate, I never saw him.

The girls grew prettier and smarter and more charming every day. I was missing it. I was working long hours for low pay for the church, and I saw my babies for just minutes. I was slowly dying inside.

One weekend, as they toddled into the kitchen to get in my way as I did the dishes, I saw a glimmer of the god I'd believed in — and lost — all those years ago. It was in their deep brown eyes, a whisper through their curly hair. It was in their voices as they mastered "Mama." It was in their laughter, in their tears.

The god I'd gone looking for when they were born wasn't in the church. He was in my home.

My children do not know who my god is.

But they don't have to.

  1. Thank you! This is a beautiful post. I'm an atheist, but spiritual. It's hard to explain to just about anybody. But when you look into your baby's eyes, when you feel them stir inside of you… you are connected to the mysteries and the vastness of the universe. All of time just focuses right there in your arms. I feel spiritual when I see my children… For me it's not God, just… Love.

    5 agree
    • I totally get this, I'm atheist but spiritual but not pantheist exactly either. I feel spiritual when I see my children, nature, and art.

      3 agree
  2. Thank you. This is beautiful. I was raised Catholic but have not connected with the Church in a long time. I consider myself a Humanist and the love I feel – the intensity, the wonder – when I am with my little boy is the affirmation that I need to feel connected.

    4 agree
  3. Love this! I was raised in a very strict Christian household but left the church soon after my son was born. I firmly believe that RELIGION and SPIRITUALITY are two very different things. I am not at all religious, but I consider myself very spiritual – without needing to give some great definition to exactly what my spirituality is.

    6 agree
  4. I was raised in a very Catholic family however I lost faith slowly over the course of almost a decade.
    I have experienced the same feeling you described so eloquently, your piece sent a shiver down my spine. Thank you.

  5. Whenever I look into my daughter's eyes I'm always reminded of the Emerald Rose song "Never Underestimate a Woman with the Goddess in Her Eyes". In Kat's baby blues She is there, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way! Thanks for this post.

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