We are spiritual beings living a human existence.
Faith, religion, and spirituality—wow, that sounds deep! Deep? Maybe so—but faith, religion, and spirituality are absolutely critical to being “successful” in life. That is why this subject was chosen as the 10th Kidmandment. This is the CORNERSTONE of a worthwhile and happy life, and we must get it right. Therefore, let’s start out with some definitions.
Faith is a belief and trust in a Higher Power, even when there is no empirical proof. Faith is the belief in something bigger governing the universe; something more than our own existence in this human dimension. When we have faith, we feel there is a force greater than ourselves to whom we can turn for help at any time for guidance and strength, especially during times of crisis.
It is not necessary to go to church to have faith. Faith is something we carry within our hearts and souls at all times—not just on Sundays.
True faith is believing in things we cannot perceive through the five senses, but which can be felt through the sixth sense: intuition.
If we are in touch with our intuition, we can see, touch, feel and hear signs of our faith around us; whether in the sound of rain dropping, the splendor of a rainbow, on our children’s faces or in the feeling of sand beneath our feet. Reasons for faith are all around us—if we open our hearts and souls to its messages.
Religion is fairly straightforward. This is probably why more people are comfortable with religion than pure spirituality. According to religioustolerance. org, religion may be defined as, “Any system of belief about a deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, and a worldview.” This means we are given beliefs or a specific code by the community or religious body we adhere to.
The problem with religion is there are more than 4,000 options, with 22 major religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Within each religion there are untold numbers of denominations. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, Christianity alone has 33,820 denominations to choose among. How’s that for confusing?
Spirituality is much harder to define, but clearly is different from religion. Unfortunately, these two words are often used interchangeably, which makes a complicated subject matter even more complex and confusing.
Spirituality is what brings purpose and meaning to life. It is our connection with our Creator and that innate desire to figure out life’s big questions, like, “Who am I?” “What happens to me when I die?” and “What is my purpose?”
Being in touch with our own spirituality helps us understand our purpose in the world, appreciate the lives we have been given and feel a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves.
But as great as spirituality is, without religion, spirituality alone easily separates people when everyone makes God into their own image. As you can imagine, this may cause as many problems as it solves. The goal is to celebrate the way in which God has made Himself known to us without being overly restrictive in how we teach our children to believe.
One more definition before we go: We’ve all heard the expression, “Higher Power.” Some of us may wonder, “What is a Higher Power? Is it the same thing as God?”
The term Higher Power allows people of all belief systems to associate with the God, Goddess or Supreme Being of their choice. F
or many Americans, the Christian or Jewish God is our personal deity. For others, as in Native American religions, nature, animal totems, ancestors and the Universe itself are perceived as the Great Spirit.
It is only our belief in a Higher Power that provides us with hope that He will see us through our lives, and deliver us into Heaven, the Other Side, Nirvana, or the Holy Realms. Through our belief in a Higher Power we consider that our actions may have consequences in an afterlife.
Okay, enough textbook learning. Let’s just say it’s no wonder that more and more people are turning away from formal places of worship. With so many options and so much information, religion itself is turning people away from God.
Prior to the invention of the printing press, we basically had the choice between one or two religions. That was it. In the old days, hardly anyone had access to a bible. You were told what you needed to know by family, friends and spiritual leaders, and you either accepted it as truth or rejected it.
But today we are living in such different times! Yet often we are teaching our children about religion the same way. The problem is, we are getting totally different results—and those results are disastrous.
The good news is that there is something we can do. Good Parents teach their children about religion. Great Parents teach their children the differences among faith, religion and spirituality (FRS).
Sure, in the beginning, most children will start out practicing their parents’ religion. But at some point they’ll feel a need to validate it for themselves. Some become so disenchanted with the whole religion thing they opt out of believing altogether. They reject the message based on their judgments of the messengers. Some choose to keep practicing their parents’ religion, just to keep peace and harmony in the family. Others actively seek out a religion they feel is right for them, one in which they have a relationship with God that works for them. It is options one and two that should concern us parents enough to really evaluate what we are teaching and how we are teaching it, to make sure this doesn’t happen to our children.
Not to oversimplify this subject, but if we teach our kids the differences associated with FRS, we greatly decrease our chances of having them give up on religion. We can’t take a chance on having children who get disheartened with religion and toss God out in their frustration. Understanding the differences among these concepts is what helps them understand that religion is manmade, while spirituality is something much deeper.
We can’t afford to take a chance on letting our kids’ FRS be confusing. There are way too many advantages to having FRS in our lives.
Many of us were not raised with a deeply rooted spirituality; as a result, we grew up empty, without faith, like our parents. If that describes your family, or someone you love, and you don’t want to perpetuate that lifestyle on your children, now is the time to teach them about FRS.
One of the many wonderful things that come from FRS is the ability to instill morals, ethics and values. Certainly parents may teach these concepts without FRS; but the difference is that when Mom and Dad say something, well, that’s it, Mom and Dad said it. However, when a third party says something, it must be true—especially when that third party is God! The point is, FRS provides a structure to teach and instill morals, ethics and values into your kids. While we could debate whether or not you need FRS to teach these behaviors, what is not debatable is that it’s impossible to raise a “successful” child without morals, ethics and values that resonate from within.
There are so many benefits of FRS, this chapter could go on and on. Let’s just say that FRS is needed now and in the future and, who knows, establishing and maintaining a relationship with a Higher Power might even save your soul!