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Child of God

My children believe, without question, they were made by God. God made the leaves on the trees, the stars in the sky, and the ice cream in the freezer. Every good and perfect gift comes from above. They know that. dear god...
They believe in Noah’s ark, that Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a tumblin’ down, and that Jesus rose from the dead. They’ve spent Sunday mornings coloring handouts, vacations at VBS, and down-time parked in front of VeggieTales so I can unload the dishwasher without help.

But it won’t always be this way. Some day each of them will ask “do I really believe all this?” Maybe somebody will say something to them that will raise the question. Maybe they will read something. Maybe logic will make them stop in their tracks and wonder how the entire world could be covered by a flood so great it wiped everything out but a Godly man, his family, and two of every kind. This will be the moment they will have to reach back and pull childlike faith up and over their shoulders like a warm wooly blanket and hang on.

Thinking back on my childhood, I realize I do not remember The Moment when I chose to follow God down the narrow road. It was a process that began when I was born. I remember forming impressions of church and Sunday School that weren’t very positive. Once, when I was about four years old, I was in a classroom and noticed cookies. I ate one. The scolding I received was so severe I still remember it and think unkind thoughts toward the woman who directed it at me. So I began to think of Sunday School as The Place Where You Get Yelled at By Complete Strangers.

Unfortunately, that is how a lot of unchurched people view church.

They think if they go to church, they will be yelled at, judged, scrutinized, and told they aren’t good enough. Why bother? And even if they aren’t singled out somehow, they will not understand the secret language of Christianese some like to speak. Churches that preach to the choir are nice for the choir. I am interested in those sitting in the back row, looking like they would rather be anywhere else in the universe.

Despite being raised in the church, having been to hundreds of services, Sunday School classes, VBS, church camp, MOPS meetings, marriage group studies, etc, etc, etc, I still feel the sting of judgment from other Christians. I still roll my eyes at Christianese and the word “verily”. I still seek, I still question, I admit I don’t have all the answers. I know what I believe, however. Jesus died and rose so that I will live. It is that simple.

If you come to my Sunday School and eat a cookie, I won’t yell at you.

16 comments to Child of God

  • Mom-of-mopsy

    Jesus loves us right where we are. I’m so thankful!

  • Vashti

    I love how you emphasize that the foundation we lay for our children will be the “wooly blanket” that they turn to in times of questioning their faith. (Although you put it much better) I think that the questioning is part of the journey and how we grow. I have often been turned off by many Christian churches for the very reasons you cited. How important it is that we each embrace each other rather than judge, no matter where we are on our faith journey. So…does it mean I’m a “groupie” now because I am finding that checking your blog has become a regular part of my day??? Thanks! Vashti

  • mogwai

    I’ve enjoyed your writing so much in the last couple of months since i’ve stumble accross your blog.

    but this latest entry really hit home and made me cry. 2 women in the Church I was going to hated me so much (for what I’m not exactly sure) that they made it their mission to make me and my family leave the Church. The pastor said to me “its your choice if you leave, but let me help you find another Church to go to” nice and Christ like. NOT!

    Anyway, you reminded me again that I AM a child of God and I AM loved. thank-you

  • Verily I say unto thee, you have shared a good word…and a cute pic.

  • mopsy

    Vashti—you are right, questioning is inevitable and not something to be feared or discouraged in our kids. A deep faith is one that questions, contemplates, and comes out on the other side stronger than ever. 🙂 at the “groupie” remark…if you read Lifenut regularly, you are Nutty.

    Mogwai—that is painful to read. I am so sorry you were treated that way and I hope you found a welcoming place to fellowship, where they teach the truth and treat you like a sister, not a stranger. If not, I pray you will.

    Lexie, Lexie, Lexie…verily, thou dost maketh me rolleth mine eyes unto the firmament. But I thanketh thee for thine kind words.

  • Shayne

    Gretchen, I think it’s wonderful that your children are being raised with these beliefs and values. I am so excited to see my boys learning more about God and faith as well. I was not raised in the church and didn’t become Christian until I was 20, so I do remember That Moment. It happened on Good Friday in 1993, the day before my beloved grandmother died. I know that it was part of God’s plan for me that I would accept His salvation before she died and that, consequently, I would feel His love and comfort in my sorrow.

  • My son is already questioning–from “why did God make mosquitoes” to “what if Satan is good and God is bad?” “Who made God?” “What if there is no God?” I know a lot of these questions are planted in his mind by his dad, and that when he discovers some truths there he will discard some of the accompanying doubts, but I also am realizing that in the next few years I am going to have to have a lot of faith not only in my beliefs but in him, that he will be able to recognize goodness and come out all right.

    As for the Christianese, this is what makes me shy away from reading a lot of Christian books (and blogs). But perhaps that’s wrong, or snobbish–not all writing has to be admirably wrought to be valuable. I think sometimes people revert to the Biblical/churchy language because it seems to them a familiar way to express what they generally wouldn’t have words for. I have this argument with myself pretty frequently. I go to a church the vernacular of which I think would sound very foreign to a newcomer.

  • Russ Eldredge

    Gretchen, what an insightful post! As a parent, I know very well the hopes and concerns you have for your children as they grow older. I have been very fortunate in that our church is a place my children enjoy going to, and is an environment that fosters enthusiasm in learning about God and Jesus.

    Unfortunately, I know what you speak of as far as feeling the sting of judgement by those who call theirselves Christians – not only those outside of my faith, but from some within it as well. They’re the ones who probably need to learn about Jesus the most.

    Once again, thanks for a great post!

  • hamster

    As you know, I’m a non-believer. I hesitate to comment at all, but I will, because your post struck a chord. I think of the bible as literature, not a book that literally explains how the world came to be and how people should live in it. Obviously, I don’t purport to know all that is in the bible, nor do I disagree with many of the basic tenents. My concern with faith is that it seems to permit questioning only so long as it brings the questioner back to God. What if one of your children rejects that wooly blanket?

    And what does verily mean?

  • Vashti

    I found a link that goes hand in hand with “Child of God.” It is such a beautiful parenting reflection. Enjoy!

  • Vashti

    The above link wasn’t complete. Oops! Hope this works.

  • What a wonderful post. You words speak deeply to me, and I can related to much of what you write about. Having gone to church my whole life, as well as attended and taught in Christian education, I would say the faith question/decision is not an easy one. I have seen so many of my students abandon God because of what they witness in others. However, some ultimately come to the decision that they cannot base their faith on the actions of others.
    I have learned to appreciate the inconsistencies and failures of Christians because it helps me see that I need God more than ever. I hope and pray that my daughter understands this as well. I am thankful rather than burdened that while I can do my best to model my faith to my daughter, I know it’s ultimately God who will work through her life.

  • mopsy

    Hamster, I am glad you asked. If their questions do not lead them back to God (and they don’t always, I’ve seen it in others), that would break my heart…but I know I cannot make them embrace and share my beliefs. I fully expect them to question. There’s nothing I can do to prevent it.

    It’s been said that God has no grandchildren. Every person’s relationship with God is deeply personal and requires a choice on their part. I can’t nag, plead, beg, weep them (or anyone else) into this…

    So, what’s a believing parent to do? Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it. That means living by example, like Stephanie said in her comment. I believe in prayer, teaching, and giving a child a solid spiritual foundation to grow upon. When they start finding themselves saying “Huh?” and they *will*, they will have that history behind them. They will make their choice.

    If they reject God I will still love them with every cell in my body, of course. They are my kiddos.

    I believe “verily” means “seriously” or “I’m not kidding”. From the context of its use I have discerned the meaning. Thankfully, I go to a church where the pastor wears Hawaiian shirts. I’ve never heard him say “verily”.

  • “I am interested in those sitting in the back row, looking like they would rather be anywhere else in the universe”

    Right there with you. Sitting in a pew has always been hard for me, simply because that is not how I learn best. I do not believe we come to salvation through a prayer or by following a list of rules. It is a unique process for everyone.

  • Thou shalt not eateth thy neighbor’s cookie whilst thou sitteth at the foot of learning.

    Okay, so maybe not. I remember the moment it dawned on me that I only needed to ask to receive. I didn’t dawdle.

    I’m right here with you EXCEPT that I believe that no matter what, when God calls, He is irresistible. The understanding given by the Holy Spirit will not be hindered by any ‘Pharisees’ in the midst.

    Beautiful entry, thank you.

  • mopsy

    Heather, I believe that too. The same God that made my children made their hearts. He hardens, He softens, He knows and holds the keys. I rest in that knowledge very much. I want the Spirit to pursue my children relentlessly.

    I love your cookie commandment. Eventually, I did learn to ask…most people are nice about sharing their cookies. Even those big sugary ones shaped like stars with whipped frosting and bright pink sprinkles.

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