Sometimes it hits me really hard that I am responsible for two people other than myself. And my decisions affect not just the here and now, but eternity. We currently attend a type of church that I only attended until about the age of seven. Lately I wonder - do I want to raise my kids in this? And I can't just look broadly at denominations, but also the idiosyncrasies, pros and cons of the local church. All churches have them - so what are the things we should overlook and what are the deal-breakers? Every family must decide this for themselves.
I do not want my kids forced to believe anything, but on the other hand, I do not want to neglect my spiritual responsibility for them. I was lucky in that I went to church by myself as a teenager. I chose to go. Alone. No one made me do it. So I can confidently say all my spiritual decisions and beliefs are truly mine. (Although I was raised in the early years with certain attitudes and beliefs - some of which I held onto, and some of which I dismissed.)
Why all of these questions today?
Because I struggle living in the Bible-belt. This is the hardest place to be a follower of Jesus, I think. Since I currently live in the Mecca of the Assemblies of God plus find a Baptist church on every corner here, it is easy to grow cynical about Christianity and the hypocrisy we find within its people. I want to shield my children from that, and at the same time I want to strengthen them in such a way to fight against it.
I am discouraged today. I could write pages about why I just want to walk away. I could give names and specific conversations and accusations over recent weeks, but it won't matter. People will often believe what benefits them rather than the truth. All of this makes me want to walk away from this thing called Christianity. This thing each of us has made it to fit our molds rather than us being shaped into Its mold.
And despite this discouragement, I hang onto the encouraging words I heard last week from several people. I cling to the way I see older saints and young adults love my kids at church and outside of those walls. I think of my friends who commiserate with me over coffee or via e-mail, and I remember I am not alone in this loneliness, in this frustration turned sadness. I am thankful for people who share a different perspective but still see my heart, who don't jump to conclusions. (I pray I learn to be more like that.)
So where does this all lead me? And what does that have to do with parenting? Probably everything and nothing all rolled into one because just want to know how I am supposed to raise my kids in this crazy world.