I have a grandma who stopped going to church, probably sometime around 1960 something. My grandpa continued without her. This went on for years, as in probably 30 or more. They finally moved to a different town and she got back into it. Not so happily, I imagine, but she went. At least she went sometimes.
It was odd to me as a child that she wouldn’t simply go along with my grandpa. It would have made him happy. Even when they came to spend the winters with us, she declined our invitations to come along with the family each Sunday. Again, I didn’t really comprehend why she wouldn’t.
There could be many reasons why she refused. I won’t venture to guess. I now find our family of four apart from a church home, and maybe more than ever before, I can understand her situation. It’s by choice, I suppose we find ourselves here. Yet, it’s a bit isolating and lonely. It’s freeing to worship at home, together as a family. Sometimes, though, the hurts from the past are very real. The unanswered questions as to why we’re no longer a [ministry family] can be haunting. It’s hard for me to make sense of it all. It’s like something was taken away. Something that was part of us.
An occurrence last week helped me realize how far I am from recovery. The more I consider it, the more I realize what upsets me the most: how it affects my children.
My children, raised going to church, no longer attend a weekly worship service outside our home. During Lent we attended a church each week. We occasionally worship at a church I enjoy. But for the most part, we’re out on our own.
Kids whose parents are in ministry go through a lot. And whatever affects their parents…..believe me it affects them too. Their disappointments and losses are very real and it’s impossible to explain them all away. Simply put, I don’t believe my kids will put themselves back in the place of vulnerability again. And I cannot blame them. So my son graduates high school without a youth group send off. My daughter doesn’t attend lock ins or Bible studies. Though musically gifted, they no longer participate in a worship band.
I’ll be honest. It’s hard for me. Hard to stomach the hurts and bewilderment and angst. Most people don’t understand. “Why don’t you just find another church?” It’s not that easy; believe me, we’ve tried.
Yet I long for my kids to know and comprehend the Message. I’m so thankful that they love justice and mercy and these things are apparent in their lives. So maybe they do comprehend; maybe they get it. But they also understand the harsh words and the control inflicted by others who are in positions of leadership. That I cannot take away. So I continue to pray they have peace. And that we as parents do the right thing. Which, despite what the typical Christian parent might believe is probably not putting them back into a typical church-y situation.
I’d like to go back and change some things, some situations, the choices we made. But, that’s impossible.
“You want to protect your child from pain, and what you get instead is life, and grace; and though theologians insist that grace is freely given, the truth is that sometimes you pay for it through the nose. And you can’t pay your child’s way.”
~ Anne Lamott
This afternoon our family will attend son Jamie’s Senior Inspiration Program & Reception at Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church. Apparently these services are no longer called “Baccalaureate”. It’s described on the invitation as “A Service of Peace and Blessings as you go forward”. And of course, I hope it’s that. Isn’t that the best to wish for our kids as they grow older and wiser? Peace and Blessings……