Beth Bugg – 11/18/2018

I like turtles. I had a pet turtle as a child. Nothing special, probably a box turtle but I’m not sure. They were one of the few wild animals I could actually catch. My sister and I could make a day of it collecting turtles on my grandparent’s small farm. The phase that’s often associated with turtles ‘slow and steady’ also appeals to me and my inner nature. In thinking about my religious formation to date, the term slow and steady seems about right. Not to go too far back, but to set the stage, I was raised in a Lutheran church with a mother who taught Sunday School and organized the library and a father who was on the church council, attended very important meetings and best of all got to count the collection money after church. Typical stuff in Carroll County. I drifted away a bit in my later teens and early twenties, but again, typical stuff. I met and fell in love with a young man (at the time) who grew up in the Catholic tradition. “no big deal, Christmas, Easter, Church on Sunday. I got this” The first inking of any religious discord came from the priest who referred to our marriage as a ‘mixed marriage’. Odd, but I was young and in love. As we settled into domestic bliss religious cracks began to appear. I wanted to find a church home – a Protestant church home. I had been to mass at a Catholic church and was decidedly unimpressed. I don’t know the hand signals, the liturgy was unfamiliar, there’re extra books in the Bible and I’m not allowed to take communion. Craig was quite happy with the church and tradition he had grown up in and wanted that to continue. I went to TPC, was greeted by a warm congregation of faith, heard Dr. Toole preach and found my new church home. We were young and immature and settled into our respective religious camps. All proceeded in this manner until we decide it might be nice to have children. So, one of us had to get pregnant. There was one tiny cloud looming over the horizon of any potential pregnancy. During my late undergraduate years in college, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Medication and exposure therapy gave me my life back and allowed me to return to college. I wasn’t happy about becoming pregnant with this daily medication in my system. So, with hormones raging I stopped taking my medication. All was ok for 5-6 months. There was an occasionally glitch, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Then in a flashback to college, my anxiety reappeared almost overnight with a vengeance. Obsessive thoughts, rituals, panic attacks – the whole scary package. Doctors recommended the medication be restarted. If you know anything about the medications used to treat anxiety you know they take up to six weeks to be fully effective. I was in a bad place and couldn’t stand to be alone, because my mind and my thoughts were my worst enemy. Craig was going regularly to HIS Catholic church so I went along. In my weakness I stopped being judgmental about the hand gestures, extra books of the Bible, liturgy I don’t know, and communion I wasn’t supposed to receive. Instead of boredom, I found peace in the liturgical ritual. The routine and repetition was able to quiet my mind. I even asked my mother in law to teach me how to pray the rosary. The tactile feel of the beads, along with the cadence of the prayers was like a meditation. There was no miracle cure, but it was part of the support that carried me until the medication kicked it. It was also the beginning of my slow and steady understanding of how to embrace and celebrate other religious traditions within a family and to raise children that are a product of a mixed marriage. Instead of being concerned that my children didn’t see their parents attend the same church on Sundays, I began to celebrate that they had two parents who were committed to the faith traditions of their childhoods. Our children could come to Sunday School with me, sing with the Cherubs, go on a mission trip to Honduras and still attend Mass, cross themselves and genuflect and their Catholic Church home. In the spirit of equity and completely without planning circumstances conspired to have my son Garrett confirmed in the Catholic Church and Molly confirmed here at TPC. As a family, we will continue our slow and steady progress. Craig has been greatly enjoying services and fellowship at TPC and I continue to find beauty in the Catholic Mass. Although I like the concept of slow and steady, I have realized that religion is not a race and no one needs to win.