Today is my eldest daughter’s birthday. Halloween. When I attended church in early labour, I was concerned that I would not make it through the service. I felt safer sitting in the service, than I did at home. And as it was I still had 24 hours of labour to go before she made her appearance, waving at the world, she entered the world hand emerging first, as I was to find out her father had years before. Our congregation had a few nurses and a few parents so I felt more comfortable at church realising that many people in our multi-age congregation would know what to do, rather than me wondering what would happen at home. Anyway it seemed completely natural to me to be worshipping. I had prayed over and for my developing child throughout her pregnancy.
We were part of, not just a congregation but a community, most people living within walking difference of our church, my Paster was around the corner with his school age family, my prayer partner and her brood lived opposite them. There were a few other new mums or mums to be and we would pass each other in the health centre, at Nursing Mother’s meetings, the supermarket, the doctors. I felt that I was in a community that would support us and we would be a part of as she grew, a blend of faith and secular.
What I wanted more than anything was for her to come to know God and be a part of this wonderful nurturing community.
I asked everyone, how do I help her to know God? Most did not have an answer for me, one informed me that it was like introducing her to any friend. But that statement, though true didn’t help me, so I continued praying for and with her, we continued the tradition of attending church together, we prayed at meal times, but we did not read Bible stories, we read secular books, it did not even occur to me that faith books for children even existed.
With the congregation, she was dedicated, we moved to the front for the children’s talk and sat at the back so we would not disturb other’s in the congregation, eating treats to keep her quiet during the sermon. When the time came for her to join, Sunday School with the other children she left the service to learn. When she was old enough we started evening devotions when she went to bed, a bible reading some questions, which she didn’t enjoy at all. What helped her more was the Christian meditation we practiced.
She went to a Christian school, and I felt that I had done my best, but I was so disappointed when in her teen years she refused to come to church anymore, and I started to question, what I had done wrong to not show her God in a way she wanted in her life. It led me to question so much, to ask questions, to look closely at the gaps in my teaching her about faith. Yes, we could have read story books, watched videos, played computer games with a stronger faith focus. Did she not learn in ways that were appropriate to her learning styles?
God is not a stranger in our home. She still prays, meditates when stressed, she has accepted some of the things we did as a family such as Ski, and rejected others. She is not a part of a faith community other than within our family. I am the only one who is connected to a Church, yet each Christmas and Easter, she comes to church with me, not to please me, but because these events do not have any meaning for her without attending Church.
As parents, we can not guarantee the faith choices our children make. We can only try our best, and leave the rest to God. Always keep the doors open for that conversation, or the opportunity, but respect their wishes, they like everyone else we come across must be free to open their ears to hear, and shape the faith process for themselves. We do not fail when our children don’t stay in the church, if they know God we have done our job.
I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.