Thursday, December 20, 2012

Close to home: Amy's "Quit blaming society" rant

            I hear people frequently blaming the cultural shift toward violence, narcissism, lawlessness and bullying on the lack of prayer in school.  As someone who grew up in a post-school prayer culture, I disagree.  I believe the shift began a generation or two beforehand, and the answer doesn’t lie in changing how the school operates. 

            It may shock a few people when I tell you that I, an out loud, in public, self-proclaimed Christian tell you that I don’t actually want a corporate-led school prayer in my kids’ school.  Why?  Because my children go to public school, and we would have to include the beliefs (or lack thereof) of all families in said prayer.  It would be watered down, meaningless and, I believe, would not please God any more than the pledge of allegiance.  Do I think schools need prayer?  YES!  Do I think teachers and students should pray both on and off campus?  YES!  But this does not begin at school, dear readers, I believe it begins at HOME—but more about that later …

            I believe there were many parents in the mid-twentieth century who were rather relieved to know that Sunday school teachers and public school teachers alike were teaching their children about God, because it got them “off the hook.”  Drop them off at Sunday school, endure an hour of church and put them in a good school district, and you’re covered, right?  Throw in a memorized prayer at mealtime and bedtime (no need to bother explaining what they mean) and you can spend much of your life uncluttered by God.  No answering tricky questions, no moral dilemmas, just do what you must to ensure that your sons don’t go to prison and your daughters don’t end up in a family way. 

            My mother didn’t grow up in a home like that.  Yes, they prayed in school, but her home life was different than many of her peers.  Her father, until his last year of life, rejected the idea of God entirely.  He didn’t darken the door of a church unless someone was getting married or buried, and didn’t so much as close his eyes during prayers before meals.  My Grandma, uncles and mother went to church without grandpa, and he didn’t care who knew it.  He didn’t mind everyone else in the house going, but he didn’t want to talk about it.  And yet, my mother and uncles are believers to this day. 

Why did that happen?  I believe it occurred because my grandmother didn’t expect anyone else to teach her family about God.  She read her Bible, not just in Church, but every day.  Her prayers were not limited to church and mealtimes, they were an integral part of her life.  Her faith was not a social obligation like the PTA or gardening club, it was part of her life.  This legacy would help my mother to raise her daughters in a post-church society.    

            Most of my life, I was raised in the most un-churched state in the nation, in a time when only a handful of kids went to church and schools didn’t mention the name of God, under threat of lawsuits.  I was taught evolution, that protection was important because “After all, you crazy kids are gonna do it anyway,” and that my self esteem was the most important aspect of my life.  That, however, is not what I believed then, nor is it what I believe now. 

            My parents, like their parents before them, lived out their faith as part of our daily life.  My mother didn’t shelter me from what the school taught me, she simply explained how we believed differently and why. (For example, I was taught that yes, I was unique, special and wonderful-- and so was EVERYONE ELSE, which is why treating them with love and respect was important to God, therefore, important to us.)  She prayed for me in the car when a test was coming or a bully was bothering me, and I could feel her prayers during the day.  I knew that I could pray anytime, anywhere, and I did.  My childhood and adult life were different from many of my peers, not because I went to a Christian school, or lived in some sort of time warp (as it was rumored in my high school, where my nickname was “Sister Mary Catherine").  My parents’ living out our faith in a way that was as natural as breathing, however, was responsible.

         It's not as easy as my parents made it look, for sure.  Sleeping in on some Sundays would be awesome.  My children ask questions at inconvenient times.  I have to tell my children why what I just did is not what we believe, and APOLOGIZE for being a bad example. *cringe*  I'll come out and say it, sometimes fulfilling my parental obligation to teach my children is a pain.  It would be easier if I let the school be responsible for more of my kids' outcome, but it's really not their job.  Just as it's my job to teach them manners, so they don't belch at their teachers while learning geometry, it's my job to raise moral, loving, interdependent children.  EEK!  Here's another reason why living out my faith is so important, on my own, I'm not so good at this. I need the prayer, Bible reading and faith-building as much as my children do-- maybe more.   
          My hope is that we stop blaming society for how our kids grow up.  If you look back to biblical history, ours is not the first to have to raise children counter to the culture in which we live.  If we want God back in other parts of our society, we need to start where all learning begins-- at home.  

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About Me

I'm not your average housewife; but then, neither is any other housewife I've met! My life is a constant blur of kids, animals, hunting down and testing allergy-friendly recipes, shopping, LOTS of coffee, yarn crafting, nannying, singing and writing. I married my highschool sweetheart (the introvert who is a type-A, shy, organized, loves hunting, hiking and mountain climbing. He lives for pizza, burgers and cookies and doesn't like coffee). We are polar opposites, but Love, grace and a whole lotta Jesus can overcome anything! :) We have two boys who fill this house with lots of excitement, love, laughter and lunacy! Alan (9) is a happy-go-lucky, inventive, dramatic, eager-to-please kid who loves being dad's shadow and mom's shopping companion. He's the snuggliest kid I've ever met! Wyatt is extremely bright, inquisitive, entertaining and endearing. He lives for routine, Wii games, pixar films and writing stories. Alan is typically-developing, Wyatt has high-functioning autism. We live on an acre in the Pacific Northwest with our two aussies and 5 chickens. It's not the Waltons, but it works! :)