What has God called me to do? And does the church help me to do what God is calling me to do? Or does the church continually, through its members, but also through its organizational structures and very culture, denigrate and demean the good and hard job God has given me?
This is what God has called me to do. And i feel very small writing this down. Because it isn't a big thing. I have a friend who is a midwife in Rwanda, teaching women how to basically save their family's lives. I have another who teaches personal security in Sudan. I have another who works, saving children in Asia from a life on the streets in the sex trade. All of them are women i so admire, and all of their causes are ones that i think are big, just, and good.
But God hasn't called me to go anywhere. He married me to the man i begged from him, a school teacher and vice principal. My husband is a good man, who loves me and takes care of our family. Who is responsible, and a role model for young people who often don't have a parent who is taking responsibility for them. We homeschool, but his ministry is often his job, and he is right where he should be, in the public high school.
My ministry is in a smaller sphere than that. My ministry is to T, my husband, and to my seven children. You see, God told me that this was to be my ministry. How? You ask? A bolt from heaven? A word from the Bible? Well, no not really - but He gave me this man, these children. And His word does say "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your heart" - and "as unto the Lord". So that's what i'm doing in my corner of the world. I'm listening to and supporting my husband as he leads our family, in seasons of homechurch, in ministry to children at risk, in helping people who are falling through the cracks. I hold down the fort so that he can do what God calls him to. And i try to make home a safe haven for him when he is home. This sounds like a very small thing. But how many people do you know who are doing it? Not many. Most of us want the glory of being the hero. But Moses needed two men to hold up his hands in battle, and i am satisfied to be holding up the hands of my man.
And my little children. We are so blessed with these sweet seven little ones. One is now bigger and stronger than me, but so much fun, so smart. Once i read that teenagers need you just as intensely as toddlers do, and i'm finding that to be true.
My mom told me that one of the jobs of being a mother is to help children relate to the world around them, step by step - first as part of the mother/child bond, then as part of their family, then gradually expanding in larger and larger circles. Other wise women have spoken to me about the need children have for security - to know that the one place it is safe to fall, to fail, to try again, is in their own home. To know that one person has their back and will listen, love, help, warn, and laugh with them.
This is what i want to do. To love my husband and disciple my children. There might be more God has for me to do. They might be good things, but right now this is where He's put me, and what He's told me to do. And until further notice, i will obey Him. When I hear Him call me somewhere else, i will listen, but i'm not leaving my post without authorization...
Now, the church (i know, this is getting so long...)
I get there, and they want to take my children from me, to teach them separately from me, and separately from each other
1. i don't know the teachers
2. they will each learn something different from each other and from me in the main sanctuary
3. i have often had to correct bad teaching my children have had from sunday school teachers
4. if we all hear the same thing, we discuss it the rest of the week, and it can help build good discussion times and be helpful to our family's spiritual life
The attitudes that i see/feel (and i may be totally wrong, but this is my perception)
1. children are a burden in/to church - let's get rid of them
2. no one wants to teach sunday school, so there is no permanence, no relationship built in the 8 weeks or so that person is in rotation
3. theology isn't important for kids - they don't "get" God anyway. Better a coloring book and Veggie tales video
4. Anyone can teach a child about spiritual matters.
5. God doesn't care who teaches a child
6. You're not a team player if you won't trust us
Here's the truth. My children are very important to me. I am in the process of discipling them at home, with a consistent, theologically correct approach, aimed at their specific needs as individuals. I care more than strangers do about their souls, and because we have a strong relationship, i can speak to them more frankly than strangers can, and correction from me carries more weight. I don't want to teach anyone else's children. My husband teaches everyone's children all week. When we come to church, we come to worship God as part of the Body of Christ. God has given my husband and I a charge, in Deuteronomy 6, to teach our children continually, and we can't do that if we've shuffled them off to a babysitter so we can be more silently spiritual than if we had them with us.
I also think that if churches keep treating children as pests and nuisances, of course they will lose children as they get older. Children have the very same Holy Spirit as adults. If children have made a decision to follow Jesus, we should take that very seriously, and our obligations toward them change. Church should be a place where your age doesn't matter - your soul does.
Churches fail children, and i care deeply about mine.
The other thing, and i know this is very small and petty. But have you ever noticed all the stupid jokes about nagging wives, or naughty children, or husbands prone to porn? This isn't encouraging - what it does is reinforce bad behaviour by saying "oh, we all do it". I have found marriage to a truly righteous man to be the second most transformative event in my life. And becoming a mother was the third, and each child brings with it more need for me to get serious about God, His Word, and becoming the woman my husband/children *need* me to be, and God is calling me to be. Calling me from complacency, back to my first love, where i realized that not only was there a God, but He was near to me, He speaks, and He cares what i decided to do...
At church there is no room for me and my experience. Only one person can talk and share, and i think that's a shame. Because if more people shared their hearts, i *could* trust more of them. They would have less camoflage to hide behind, and they would have to get real, or change, or become the family we all want to be, but instead we settle for pretending, and smiling and "see you next week" - ing...
i don't have a blockbuster story, but i can share where i'm at. And if we all did this, we could pray for each other more readily. We could help each other practically. We could correct and encourage, and feed each other. And in the end, maybe it could be about the Body of Christ instead of an hour of sitting there...