Fitting Out:: MOPS and the Nonreligious Mama

Fitting Out:: MOPS and the Nonreligious Mama

When I moved to Katy a few years back, I was in desperate need of moms to connect with. I looked into playgroups in the area, fun events that would give moms the rare opportunity to talk, anything to get out of the house.

One morning, while I was dropping my children off at Mother’s Day Out at Bear Creek Baptist Church, I noticed a booth set up in the foyer. The woman there asked if I wanted to join the MOPS group that would be starting up that spring. She explained that MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers… perfect, that’s me! As the woman shared that the group gives moms the opportunity to gather with other moms, share, learn from each other and connect, words like “icebreakers”, “Moms’ Night Out,” and my favorites, “child care provided,” pinged in my ears. Sign me up!

She then explained that the organization “encourages and equips moms of young children to realize their potential as mothers, women and leaders, in relationship with Jesus, and in partnership with the local church” {MOPS Mission Statement}. 

I practically skipped back to my car after joining, proud that I had found the seemingly perfect group to meet other moms. Then, the panic revved up… 

What Have I Done?

Here’s the deal:: I’m not religious. I don’t know what I believe in, and I can’t pinpoint any faith to call my own. And I’m ok with that. 

I grew up Catholic in Colorado. I attended catechism regularly, was an alter server, received four of the seven holy sacraments and know all of the prayers and hymns. I had even mastered what my grandmother called “Mass Choreography,” the several movements and gestures that take place at Catholic Mass. She was so frustrated that she could not keep up when she visited for my first Communion.

I firmly believed what I was taught, and I was unwavering in my beliefs. 

But as I got older, I had a harder time believing. I was struggling to “walk by faith and not by sight.”  I had a lot of questions and a load of doubt. Who was I to say the God I believed in was the one, true God? How could I say with certainty that there’s a heaven or hell? Is God truly omniscient? Did I REALLY believe, or did I just not know any different? 

After years of trying to reconnect with my religion and overcome my doubts, I accepted that focusing on a specific belief system may not be the path for my life. I couldn’t make myself believe. I’m not a church-goer, and I have not raised my children with religion. We believe in love, kindness and selflessness. We believe in valuing life and “the golden rule.” We believe in karma. We believe in honesty and justice. We believe in finding peace and being thankful.  We believe in love. 

But, there I was, a non-Christian, and I had just joined a Christian-based group.

All are Welcome in MOPS

Fitting Out:: MOPS and the Nonreligious Mama

I showed up to the first meeting. Needless to say, I was apprehensive. I was intimidated. I was scared. I’ve known many religious people, my past self included, to be judgmental and harsh toward people who don’t share their views.  As I walked in, an older woman asked if I was a member of the church, I said no. When I was asked if I had a church home, I said no. A curious look crossed the woman face. I felt both of us staving off pangs of discomfort. 

She hugged me and said, “Well, welcome,” with a earnest smile. 

It has been two years since that first meeting, and Moms @ BCBC, Bear Creek Baptist Church’s MOPS group, has become a mainstay in my life. At each meeting, we bond with the other women at our tables, discuss with our Mentor Moms {mothers who have adult children who give us reason to believe we can make it through the tough times}, and we take a break from all the stress. MOPS International has a theme and curriculum-style outline for the meetings and each semester, and the President and CEO, Mandy Arrioto, shares videos of herself and other inspiration speakers with powerful messages to encourage and build us up!

Lunch & Dinner dates, Bunco nights, self defense classes, playdates… We’ve done it all, together.  And my interactions with the other mamas have been far from superficial. We’ve all let some guards down and opened up about our personal struggles. We’ve provided loving ears and supported each other without judgment. While I try to keep my religious views to myself, I am comfortable becoming more involved with Moms @ BCBC. As the Hospitality leader for our group, I have the privilege of being the mama who hugs and welcomes new members at the door, helps organize refreshments for the meetings, and creates a fun, open environment for all.

The Truth Is…

I do stand out. I am one of the few in the group who doesn’t attend that church or any church at all. I don’t have the same kind of relationship with God as the other women. I very actively filter myself at our meetings or social events, because I don’t want to be disrespectful or make anyone feel uncomfortable. I can’t relate to some of the feelings and connections to Christ like some of my MOPS friends. 

Much of our meetings do involve prayer and bible verses, discussing our roles as mothers as proclaimed by God in the Bible.

But, while I don’t personally believe in all that is said, I can connect and respect it as a non-believer.

I value what MOPS has brought to my life, and I can see universal truths in what is being shared in our group and in all religions. 

I don’t have to identify as a Christian to find beauty and truth in scripture. I don’t have to be a church-goer to understand how to use the Bible as a resource and guideline for life. I don’t have to be a practicing Catholic to find power in the symbolisms of Christmas or Lent. And I don’t have to claim any religion to understand the value of fellowship or prayer. I can just be me.

MOPS has been such an amazing gift to me and my family, and I am thankful for the lives that have conjoined with mine through it. 

I urge all mothers of all backgrounds to connect to a MOPS group. People need other people, and mothers most definitely need other mothers for encouragement, support and the simple social interactions. 

Being a non-religious mother doesn’t mean you can’t find peace in a religious tribe. 

All are welcome!

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