You know the type of people who seem to have an excuse for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g? Like before you even ask them to do something they are already spewing out lines about how they have so much work to get done at home- or they are exhausted from the weekend “trip” they took (which was probably just to the grocery store). Okay…so maybe I have been known to come up with excuses from time to time. Who hasn’t? For some reason, we think that by flat out saying “I don’t want to do that,” we will be hurting people’s feelings. Is that true? Probably.
I don’t even remember most of the excuses I have made in my life. They were harmless, didn’t hurt any relationships, and didn’t result in me regretting them for the rest of my life. So, I’ve mentally filed them away under the “excuses that work” category and saved them for a rainy day (oh hey-rain-that’s a good one too!)
But, one excuse always sticks with me- and when I think about it, I feel guilt. It’s the excuse I make on Sundays when I choose not to go to church.
I grew up in a family of believers. We went to church every Sunday. And when I say every Sunday, I’m not exaggerating. There were no acceptable excuses for not being there. I loved going as a kid; some of my best friends then-and still now- are those who I grew up with in church. I consider them family.
But, naturally, as I got older and became more rebellious (hello teenage girl), I sometimes resented being “forced” to go to church. Really, I resented pretty much anything my parents wanted me to do (go to school, be home by a certain time, take my sister to softball practice- I can go all day). But you could bet I would always be in that seat come Sunday morning. And I truly did love it- I loved seeing my friends, loved singing the hymns, and loved the fellowship that we shared.
When we made several moves around the country (which you can read about here and here), it hurt to leave that church family that I had grown to lean on. I was blessed enough to have married another believer, so we set the goal of finding ourselves a new church to attend in each new state.
And with each state came a new excuse. No church lived up to the expectation. I didn’t feel welcomed, they were too nosy, too contemporary, too traditional, too big, too small. You name it- I probably used it. So, we started going less and less. We told each other that once we lived in a permanent place, we would find a church- that it was just too hard to explain to people that we were only there for a short amount of time. The longer we avoided going to church, the easier the excuses slipped off my tongue- and the easier it was to convince myself they were the truth.
When we had Becca, my mindset slowly began to change. Here was this sweet little innocent baby, who depended on us to raise her, to teach her love, to teach her compassion, to teach her strength. How were we going to do that? We were both good people. What did our parents do so right with us, and how could we do that for our child? I believe the answer to that question is probably a combination of things. But, the root of it all, the one thing that was so consistent that it became a part of us, was our love of God. And it was our responsibility, our duty, to give our child that same foundation.
This Sunday, as we were sitting in church, a church that we have been attending for several months and absolutely love, I had tears in my eyes watching my baby girl. As we sat at our table with our new friends, who also have young children, I watched Becca smiling and talking with the other babies nearby. They were all being noisy, of course, but there were no dirty looks. There was no judgement. There were lots of smiles, laughs, and sweet comments. There was lots of love.
Becca was mesmerized by the band, smiled and clapped when they were playing the songs, and even showed off her lovely “singing” voice. The guilt I had felt before, when I was not attending church, was gone. It was replaced by pure joy and pride. I knew this was where we needed to be- what we needed to be doing for our child and for ourselves.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 says:
And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise in salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)
This is the answer. This is how we can do our best to raise our children to be good human beings. Using God’s word to teach, to correct, to train our children so that they do good work in this world. All we can do is give them the opportunity to learn- the rest is in God’s hands.
It is so easy to come up with excuses- the baby is still sleeping so we better skip church today; I don’t want my baby to make a disturbance; she won’t be able to sit still for that long. I’ve definitely had the urge to use those excuses from time to time. But, then I have days like yesterday, where I see my baby learning- soaking in and loving her church experience, just as I did growing up.
And, I know what we are doing is good.