People often ask for advice on how to follow one faith while their family is another.  Some of it is about how to get along with everyone and not piss anyone off.  Others are more dramatically silly, like "As a Wiccan, am I allowed to attend a Church service?" (No, you'll burst into flame upon entering...seriously, what are you expecting me to say to that?) 

There's a difference between participating and believing.  I see no reason why my gods would take offense at me entering a church, particularly since I also don't see them taking offense at me at making offerings to other polytheistic gods.  I go to church for weddings and funerals, because those are primarily about the bridal party and the deceased, and I'm certainly not going to slight them over their choice of religion.

I don't repeat prayers in church.  I stand or sit quietly while such things are going on.  I don't believe what those prayers are saying, so I do not say them, but I also don't make a show of not saying them, because I'm a guest in their house.

But I was faced with a new scenario this week.  If you follow me on, you probably know that my 62 year old mother had a stroke in May and I've spent a good portion of the summer helping with her.  Mom has always said grace every day before every evening meal.  Mom's communication centers have been damaged now.  Still, for the first few meals at home, she was able to say some form of grace.  But one night she just couldn't find the words, and it was clearly heartbreaking.

So I said it.  I hailed that God is great and thanked him for our meal. I used the prayer I had memorized by rote as a child.  I prayed to a God in which I don't believe.

And I'm OK with that.  Because it wasn't about my beliefs at that moment.  It was about my mom's welfare and family tradition and holding onto what little normalcy the family has at the moment.  My only real concern was if Mom would suddenly feel like I've been put on the spot to act outside my religion and, thus, feel guilty.

I don't have to pout and stomp my feet and declare it an affront to my Wiccaness.  The fact is my family IS Christian and it has Christian traditions.  Yet I have been Wiccan for 20 years within that family with very little friction, and almost all of that friction came from the first few years when I was still an awkward and somewhat rebellious teen or college student. 

There's a difference between practicing and believing.  My gods know my beliefs.

Practicing doesn't make you a believer.  Saying a Christian prayer doesn't make you a Christian.  Likewise, reciting a Wiccan ritual or collecting Wiccan tools doesn't make you a Wiccan.  Do you understand?  Do you believe?  Do you have a purpose for the ritual you work or the item you use?  Because if you can't answer "yes," then you are looking like a Wiccan, not actually being a Wiccan.