I’d like to think I’m doing a decent job with you kids; I’ve loved you, provided, and am doing my best to ensure you are living a balanced life. Deep down though? I can’t help but feel as though I’m failing you.
I don’t remember going to church before age five or six. Back then, church was somewhere my grandma said I had to wear a pretty dress to and we got to go to the mall or movies afterwards. There was no children’s ministry, fun activities, or cool music.. it was just a Sunday with my Grandma. Then when I was in middle school, we started attending a Baptist church in San Jose with my mom.. I don’t remember her ever joining us, let alone bringing us on her own, before then. What was even more interesting was that she grew up Catholic, but when her dad passed that was the church she chose to go to, I’m guessing it was her way of dealing with the loss.
If you ask me what religion I am, I’ll always say “I’m Christian and was brought up in a Baptist church.” I add that last part because I really loved the years we spent there. The building was beautiful, we sang from hymn books alongside an organ piano, the pastor was this adorable little old white man (rare for East San Jose) that sung in a barbershop style quartet, and the foundation of my faith was laid while attending prayer meetings, Sunday worship, and Friday night bible studies. I felt safe and at peace there, a feeling I wasn’t familiar with as I was growing up.
That’s all God was during my teenage years though.. a feeling. So when other “feelings” overcame me, I turned away from church. At that time, God wasn’t bigger than my problems and I spent the next few years alone, angry, and searching for answers. I alienated myself from my family and moved to San Diego where I took a classes on various religions, ideologies, theories.. even dated a Buddhist for awhile (my mom LOVED that). As much as I wanted that feeling back, I didn’t want to unquestioningly agree with my family even more. If I was going to believe in God, I was going to do it on my own.
If there is any one lesson I want you kids to remember, but never have to go through personally, is that sometimes it takes being at the lowest point in your life for you to look up and see God. I remember that low point for me and it sounds like something out of a movie, but it really was my life. I was twenty two years old, a first time mom, four hundred miles away from family, and my grandma had just passed away two months prior. As I sat in the backseat of my Toyota Camry holding a screaming three week old baby, I looked out at the rain beating down my windshield and softly cried, “help.”
..and wouldn’t you know? He showed up.
Truthfully, He was always there, but I don’t quite know how to explain that to you yet. What I can tell you is that I would have never recovered from years of abuse, emotional instability, and self destruction had I not found my way back to Him. That day in my car I knew my years of running had to stop and that this little baby deserved me at my best. While I found a church home in San Diego, I wanted to approach my faith differently this time around. I didn’t want a feeling, I wanted a relationship with God.
So.. why God?
God’s not religion, a building we go to every Sunday, or a routine when we gather to eat or for Christmas. I want to “introduce” you to Him, help you get to know Him, and share with you what I love about Him. I want you to understand that I’m not just pulling ideas out of a hat, that my beliefs act as a guideline for how I raise you kids. If you can understand what I believe and who I believe in, you’ll know that I’m not expecting perfection from you.. and maybe you’ll understand grace.
I want to let you decide on your own how or if you want to pursue that relationship. I have to set a good example in this area, just like any other area of motherhood, and allow you to see and decide for yourself. I’m sure you’ll all go about it differently, you are individuals, there is no ONE way, and you should have your own experience. As your mom I’ll continue to pray for you, your journey, and your growth. We may not always agree, and I’m preparing myself for that, because I don’t know everything about Him so maybe there’s something that you’ll teach ME.
I promise to do better kids. I know, like me, you have memories of going to church and are probably wondering why football took over our Sundays.. why other things took over our every days. I don’t have an answer for that. Mom isn’t perfect, but you know when I realize I’m slipping, I try my best to get back on my feet. This is me.. trying my best.