I recently had a conversation with my girls that I thought they were being a little lax in what they were wearing to church. Okay, I was too. Mainly with Erin because she is the one who comes to church with me the most. Honestly, there were some days where she just wasn’t looking like she was going to get up, and she had confirmation classes. So what did I do? I would tell her to wear whatever she wanted, as long as she got up and got to church. Yes, there is a point where I am putting my foot down, no matter what, and that point is pajama bottoms. Absolutely not!
I also told myself no more “blue jeans” because even if I wear a sweater and dress shoes, I am still wearing “blue jeans”. Now, this does not mean that I look down on anyone at church for what they wear. I honestly could not care less what anyone looks like when they get to church, I am just glad they got to church.
So why this dress-code attitude? Church used to be about dresses, and hats, and gloves, suits and ties for the men, and greeting friends and relatives in the morning before the service starts. It was a special occasion, sometimes the only outside exposure to others that stay-at-home dads and moms got. I am glad and grateful to have a church to go to where I can worship safely, and feel welcome, no matter what I am wearing. But I want it to be that special occasion again. That Sunday morning ritual that I look forward to all week long. And honestly, about the only chance I ever get to dress up is church.
So this week, as my girls are still sleeping and I of course am up, the rules for today are wear your play clothes. After the late service the church is having a barbeque luncheon with a bounce house and other activities. I am already questioning how I am possibly going to be able to get any sleep before work tonight, since I could not sleep right now like I had hoped. But I will worry about that later. I am tired of missing out on activities because I need to sleep for work.
So jeans and tennis shoes are the wardrobe of the day, and I am looking forward to this great event my church is putting on.
What Sunday activities has your church done recently?
Sound over-dramatic? Probably. Is it over-dramatic? Not to me. I tend to pick my battles with my children, and I don’t pick those battles based on my odds of winning them. I pick them based on their importance. Even if I am likely to lose the battle, I will have made my feelings known.
So to hear something come out of my child’s mouth that goes against everything that makes my life livable, survivable, enjoyable; it felt like she slapped me across the face. A sucker-punch to the gut. A year ago, she could have said the exact same thing to me, and I wouldn’t have felt such a strong reaction. I have been fortunate enough to finally be honest with myself and admit that I needed to change things in my life. To be Happy. Healthy. Alive. To enjoy Life, and stop wasting so much of it saying “if only” and “what if”. To enjoy the blessings I have been fortunate enough to be graced with.
So is this my daughter’s fault that I had a change in my own personal life that was so extreme and powerful that her voicing her beliefs would cut me to the quick? No. I did not get angry at her. I didn’t tell her she was wrong. That she had to feel and believe the same things I do. If it works for me, it will work for her too. She was making a mistake. I said nothing of the sort. I did not believe any of those things, so I could not possibly say those things to her.
What I did say to her? That what she said to me was really hard to hear. I didn’t tell her I was disappointed in her. Does it really matter what it was she said to me? No. You can think up any number of things that a child could say to a parent to get this type of reaction, and everything I stated would apply to that situation too.
“I don’t like church.”
That was it. Those four words. The one thing that has had such a profound change on my health, well-being, and our family life for nearly the past year, and she doesn’t like church. Was I wondering if she doesn’t believe in God and Jesus the same way I do? Nope. What I was wondering was does she have so little appreciation for the huge changes I have made in my own life to improve all of our lives that she just doesn’t really care. Do my efforts mean nothing? She says things are better, but how can she appreciate how much better our lives are but not like church, the very thing that allowed for these changes to take place?
As long as it works for me, it is good enough for all of us. I do not need her to like church in order for it to have a positive influence on my attitude, and my life. I have never forced my children to go to church every Sunday, make them go to Sunday school, or anything they didn’t want to do. Am I short-changing them because I am not exposing them to more religion? I don’t think so. If I live my life as a Godly Woman, they will see that. They can learn by example. They will remember the special memories of any number of things from their past, and they will see how my beliefs played a role in the atmosphere of our experiences. If they choose to raise their own families in a healthy environment where communication and valuing each person are important, they will remember what gave me the ability to live this life I provide for all of us. That is what will lead them to God and Jesus. They will remember the path I followed to get there, so when they are ready, they can find their way there too. And I will be there to help them along the way, but only if they ask for it.