My daughter: Oh no. The tree broke!
My son: Don’t worry, N. It’s okay. God takes care of all the broken things.
These moments fill my heart with assurance that God is as much an experience as an idea to be discussed, but I have rested too long on those alone.
When we left our church in the summer of 2010, formal homeschooling had been the plan, but it never materialized. After a year without a church home, we began looking for another church instead. The idea of giving our children religion on our own was overwhelming.
But the more I spoke to people about their churches, the less I thought we could belong to another church. I could either attend a church with the fellowship and music and excitement for God I craved and spend an hour afterwards un-teaching my children about sins and intolerance, or I could attend a church aligned in my values but without throngs of young families singing and clapping along to Christian rock.
(The music may seem like a minor issue, but I feel closer to God in “Our God is an Awesome God” than listening to any sermon.)
I gave up the idea of a church home.
Scott and I continued to be examples of faith, but we did these things when our children were either asleep or playing. We were Faith by Osmosis, and while those moments of trust in the goodness of God were apparent in our children, they also began to be taught by others and their own misunderstandings.
“I know what’s bigger than infinity. God.”
“Where does God live?”
“There are no toys when we die.”
“Your feet are in a prison. A prison stronger than God.”
“Boys can only marry girls.”
I answered questions and comments the best I could, but I became uncomfortable with no formalized time for my children to grow closer to God, and while I don’t believe God needs us to give Him attention, I believe those with faith need formal time to learn what is truly important, remember who we want to be, and let go of the trappings of prestige and material pursuits.
I have always been drawn to Christianity no matter how much I struggle with the more vocal and literal contingent, and perhaps because the conservative movement seems to think it speaks for all Christians and the liberal movement is beset by eye-rolling at religion, it is vital, for Christianity as a whole, that liberal Christians don’t hand over our religion because we aren’t worried our children will go to hell.
I don’t read “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6) as narrow. I don’t think Jesus believed he was the ONLY way or his way would be defined by his name. My children are welcomed to practice any religion they want or even to leave formal religion. I would be disheartened if they became atheists for more than a few years because my relationship with God has changed my life in profound ways and I wish that comfort and steadfastness for my children. I feel grounded, capable and willing to love more than I did as an atheist although I would not be offended by their decision to renounce God.
However, we have to start somewhere. Armed with who we are and what we believe, my husband and I found a curriculum, Joyful Path, from The Center for Progressive Christianity, and are preparing lessons each week. We also plan on visiting churches and other places of worship as well as teaching about non-Christian religions as we find people who are willing to host us for a week or two.
I’ve never wanted to home-school in anything, but I have so much to learn and say about God from doctrine, from my experience and from my heart. If we don’t make time for our faith, who will?
Photo disclosure: I didn’t get a chance
to snap a photo of the tree my kids
remarked on, but that tree is similar.