I saw someone on social media, ask the question of what you feel is important when raising your kids. This is a segment of my answer.
I have always strived and endeavored to teach my kids important values and lessons in life. I packaged this in basic ways, stories, epitaphs, and parables. I also demonstrated lessons through experiences, my own and those of others’. I purposely did not take my children to church, but always permitted them to attend with others when asked. Why did I do this? What did I think I was teaching them? Why didn’t I trust others to teach my kids the Bible? Well…
I went to church as a child. I was a very observant child, and I always picked up on nuances and subtle hints from adults as to what they really felt or thought. As a child, I was under the impression that Christians must be perfect(haha), or at minimum display kindness and care, especially to children. I was shown that adults are judgmental, cruel and careless, even those at church. So, when I was 8, I decided not to go to church, and that is where my front porch sessions with my grandmother came in to play. We would discuss scripture, ideas that sprang from the Bible, morales, ethics, etc. My grandma wouldn’t judge me or my thoughts, she would listen intently, we would converse, and sometimes she would challenge me to look at things differently, and she would follow up with me on that. She also would call me out if I was going against what I said or if my actions didn’t match my words, but she would do it in a kind, questioning or concerning way. This allowed me the room and freedom to adapt, change or implement better, and I wanted the same for my kids. Besides, I can say what I thought I knew of adults as a child, was only a snippet of the truth, and instead of believing what I thought I knew of them, I had to become an adult before I understood the pitfalls of being an adult, and a Christian.
As children, parents, relatives, teachers, and close family friends are typically the biggest influences. These are the people kids look up to and trust. Kids are following actions and words, consistency is key, and trust is a major player. As a parent, I was assigned the task, duty, responsibility and blessing of guiding my offspring, and I took that very seriously. So, having had an amazing teacher myself, I set out to teach my kids the Bible in a non traditional way too, hoping these lessons would build a solid foundation on which my kids could learn to make their own decisions and hopefully good choices the older they got.
I have been fairly proud of how my kids treat others, their inclusivity, their kindness, their ability to apply what they have been taught. A couple years ago, Avery informed me that she was an atheist. Oof. Where did I mess that up? I felt horrible that I had failed her, that I had failed God. I started praying about this, that God would show up and show himself to her, in the amazing ways he does. And so he did. One day she called me, and said that she realized I had been teaching her the Bible and God’s ways all along, but that I had been discreet and indirect about it. I told her that I wanted it to be her choice to accept God in to her life. This period didn’t last too long with Avery. She found herself at college, waffling, wavering, uncertain and a bit disbelieving. She had attended various churches and services to see where she fit while at college, and when she came home, she tried to find a church here too. She made some great connections, found a place she enjoyed attending, but she had a bad experience with another fellow goer, and this made her feel uncertain again.
This was all occurring during her summer internship, which was not the best experience for Avery. One day while she was at work, she had a panic attack. She had been asking God to show her signs, to give her direction, and in true fashion, he showed up via a stranger. These are her words:
This was the calm Avery needed to regain control, to see how God can and does work. She was amazed, overwhelmed and a lot less uncertain. Avery attends church when she is home, and asked the last time asked her sister to go with her.
Brooke has always been a Jesus girl, but never went to church either. Brooke is very quiet about *most* things, but if you ever look at her tattoos, you will see a theme. They all are faith based, or influenced. Brooke has been wanting to attend church for a while, Bill and I have been encouraging her to go, but she didn’t start attending until Avery went. Now you may ask why we didn’t take her, and I will tell you this: a person must actively choose their faith and relationships with God. It is personal, and it is intimate. Does that contradict what I said earlier? No. Brooke must freely choose what she pursues. Avery taking Brooke once has resulted in Brooke attending church by herself, frequently. She has requested Sundays off from work to attend, and she is developing relationships with people at her church of choice. The irony is, I know the people she has told me about, and I am pleased for her to develop friendships with these people. To me, this is a signifier that she is in the right place for her, that God has placed people I also trust to be included in her life. This is a major blessing!
The great part? A teacher that both my girls love is who directed this current situation. Greg Phillips is such an amazing person, he is truly a godsend to many, our family included. Avery had reached out to him for counsel, he invited her to a local church that he would be filling in for that Sunday, and the girls had decided to go. Brooke is looking to attend this church regularly, and Avery will attend when home. This is the part where I tell you this all comes from faith and trust. I know that it is time for others to have a large influence on my kids, as God is directing. This doesn’t render me useless, or done, but lesser in the requirement of me from them, but also greater faith from me to trust God and others’ role in this part of my kids’ lives. I feel really good about it, and I am so very happy and proud of my girls for pursuing their faith as they choose, not as I choose for them.
Everyone has their own ways in which they facilitate the relationship between God and their children, no one way is best. However, I do believe that the freedom to choose is important, whether that be where they attend church, if they attend church or if they believe in God. Sure, as a believer, I want them to believe too, not because it serves me, but because it serves them. I hope they see and know that life without God feels one way, and life with God feels an entirely different way. One day I would love for Bill to give you his testimony, as well, it is pretty powerful, as most testimonies are.
Whether you understand the importance of the season, and whether you can see the crossing patterns for the season, I am wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, a wonderful season of Christ, and blessings of abundance.