Today, as we drove home, I asked Mia, “There is no right or wrong answer to this, but I want to hear what you think. Why do you think that daddy goes to church?”
It’s a great question to ask when your child knows that they can be perfectly honest with no risk of consequences.
And in my case, her answer to my question let me know that I had not been making it clear why it is truly important to me.
If there is no “why” behind it that she can understand and make sense of, or if it is just “that’s what people do on Sundays around here”, or if it is just “that’s what my parents taught us to do”, or if it is anything less than the whole truth about what it truly means to me — how can I expect her to not set it aside like so many other habits and traditions when she moves out to make a life of her own.
I’m going to side track for a moment for clarification…
And don’t read me wrong here, I’m not looking to just indoctrinate her into blindly trusting men that put on a religious show in order to oppress and take advantage of others and grow fat and lazy off of the money of those they are supposedly serving. What I’m talking about is having a transparent and open conversation with my daughter about “why” it is important to me. There is no pressure or expectation that she must make the same type of decision in order to “be like me” or to “make me proud”, nor should SHE have to be responsible for quenching any FEARS OF MINE about her future or eternity. We’ve always made this clear to her.
Back to the topic at hand…
If I’m not sure that my answers about why I go to church are good enough — it isn’t that it isn’t good enough for her — because she doesn’t ask those types of detailed questions about “why” behind the restaurants or theme parks or other places that we go together. That answer definitely matters to me, though — shouldn’t it?
I shared with her my reason why, and explained that I don’t pressure her because I want her to eventually end up with her own reason, not just mimic what she sees me doing. And Mandee shared with her that she had her own reason too — and that for both of us, it was meeting with God and Him revealing to us how our old life was tempting us with bait and handing us costly consequences over and over again — and that we had been blind to it for so long but we now knew a new Way, a better Way.
Why does this matter?
When I was young, I went to church because that is what my grandparents and my parents did. I heard about scary hell, and heaven with streets of gold — but they also told me about the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, and I saw them every day and knew they didn’t live perfect examples of Jesus Christ in front of me. So, when I left home, I completely abandoned their religious traditions and struck out on my own into a life of hard lessons.
So what am I doing?
I have talked with God about my little girl, and even a lot of you, my friends. Not because I think that yall need prayer more than me, or that I think that I’ve got it all right and yall have it all wrong. But because I’ve seen Him take someone like I’ve been and touch my life and change me — and I know He can sure do even more with you. I trust Him, I don’t have to manipulate my daughter. But I do need to be honest and up front with her (and with myself) about my personal “why”.
My point is… the “why” really matters.
Why was I where I was this morning?
Why was I not somewhere else instead?
Am I satisfied with my “why”?
Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT