I grew up in a family with Christian values, but it wasn’t a Christian evangelical home. There was no church on Sundays, no mid-week Bible studies, no apparent impetus to go out and spread the gospel. Unlike kids who grow up in families where the parents go through the motions on Sunday but don’t live it Monday through Saturday, my parents didn’t go through the motions at all. They lived it Monday through Sunday.
It wasn’t until college that I realize how much I’d relied on their protection. Soon after I moved out, I realized I’d lost a very important shield. I also realized how much I needed that shield. A moral standard. Loving rules of engagement. Someone devoted to me with mind, soul, and heart that I could depend on unconditionally.
Since I was used to their protective covering, when I stepped out from under it, the glare was harsh. I knew intuitively that, without a compass, this world is a chaotic place where one can feed their own whims and desires to the point where they become totally lost in a destructive reality of their own making.
Around that time, I made a connection. By instinctively following God’s laws, my parents demonstrated His love. It was His love that I was missing, and it was His love that I needed.
Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. (Romans 2:14 NLT)
With little understanding of the Bible or Christian culture, I became a baptized believer. I didn’t understand what it all meant, but I knew I wanted Jesus to be my compass. When I committed to Him I did understand this: there was no turning back. Jesus and I were in this together for life–even during those times I became confused and had no idea what to do or where to go. (Especially during those times.)
For awhile, I felt bitter, angry…lost… I wondered, “Why didn’t my parents not only teach me with their actions, but also with their words–with the Word?” Seemed like it would have saved me a decade or so of painfully putting two and two together. But, I’m over that now. Especially given the damage I see daily done to those who grew up in the church but weren’t properly schooled or mentored on who Jesus is and what He really says.
With the advent of Facebook, I’ve learned that many of my peers went through the opposite experience. They walked out into the world and sadly found it more loving and welcoming than the dead churches they grew up in. Ironically, growing up in the church turned them away from Jesus. They found more acceptance outside of His “church” so made the obvious logical conclusions that they didn’t need Him or His Bible.
I wish I could explain to them that sometimes turning away from the “church” is a step toward Jesus. I wish I could help them understand that if they continued walking toward Jesus and His Church they would find a love beyond their imagination.
On this Mother’s Day, I’m thankful to have a mother whom I’ve never caught in a lie. A mother who was devoted to her husband while he neglected her in favor of beer. Who taught me what unconditional love is when she stood by my father’s side all those years–not in unhealthy submission–but in tough love.
While my father never confessed faith in Jesus to me personally, I have my Mom to thank that he didn’t die a drunkard, but as someone who had reconciled with God, who had owned up to his mistakes, and who had made the seemingly impossible transition from drunk to loving husband, father, and grandfather.
My Dad didn’t teach hollow words about Christ’s transforming power. He lived it out. My Mom never spoke hollow words of Christ’s unconditional love. She lived it out. (And still does.)
Thank you, Mommy, I love you! 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day!