Are We Responsible For Our Children's Faith?
Teach 'em while they're young.
As we discussed in #ec1dot07, I attended church every Sunday as a child. My parents did their best to provide me with the opportunity to learn about God and grow as a Christian. They took me to Sunday School, Children's Church, a young girl's club called Missionettes (now "National Girls Ministries"), and when I was old enough Youth Group and even Youth Camp. I had a Precious Moments Bible, then a Teen Study Bible, and even a copy of the New Testament in the form of a magazine (if you're from the 90's and remember these, let me know).
My parents did what they thought was necessary to pass down their faith in God to me. Did these things help shape my beliefs? Sure. Did they make it easier for me to believe? Maybe at the time. But would this "foundation" that they laid be strong enough to carry me through the rest of my life?
Older, but not wiser.
I attended a Christian college, which should have only built upon the foundation my parent's laid for me. But instead, I found that my foundation, like the children's song, was built upon sand. I do not think that my parents did anything wrong, per se, but rather my "faith" was not my own just yet. I struggled over the next several years, often questioning if there was a God and feeling this sense of guilt and shame for even doubting in the first place.
Fast forward a few more years. I'm married to a pastor and we have a beautiful daughter. On the surface, everything looked fine but underneath I was drowning in Postpartum Depression and heavily questioning my "relationship" with God. Up until this point, everything I had learned was still just head knowledge, it had not reached my core. I would like to say that I had this miraculous encounter with God one Sunday at the alter or prayed alone in my room one night and God took everything away. I would like to say that because that is what I desired more than anything. But, my faith wasn't formed overnight. It was a long journey that I am still on. It is a journey that I am taking independent of my parents and despite the lessons I learned or did not learn as a child.
My daughter is 5, although she acts much older. She is stubborn, over dramatic, and exactly like me at her age. I could give you a million different examples of how her outlook on life or how our relationship has taught me about my relationship with and faith in God. She has a simple, childlike faith believing there is a God simply because her parents told her so.
Have I purchased her a Precious Moments Bible yet? No. Will I be following in my parent's footprints or forging a new path? I don't know yet. I'm taking it a day at a time. Am I responsible for her faith? Were my parent's responsible for mine? I'm not sure I have the answer to that. I know many people that did not have parents who taught them about God, including our guest blogger this week Danielle Christy, yet they still believe. I also know many people whose parents brought them up in the church but they chose to walk away. As parents, all we can do is share with our children what we believe and pray for them daily. We could ask Jesus to place our kids at His side in the kingdom like James and John's mother did, but who is to say that our kids will follow. The best we can do, the best I can do is to be a constant example in my child's life, in both these blissful years and in the blistering ones that will inevitably follow.
An ongoing discussion about growing up, passing on, and the ties that bind us together. Following Jesus is a family affair — no matter who you call your family.