On Sundays, the church I currently attend has two services. In the beginning, this was weird. I’m a small-town girl and had previously only heard of churches that were large enough to need two services. It was especially weird when I started playing on the worship team and, out of habit, started to pack everything up after the service only to realize that I was not done. It was not lunch time, and everything I had just played, I had to play all over again. And then I started thinking about how much worse it would be if I was the pastor. Two sermons in one day, the exact same one! Yikes. (Obviously, by this indication, I am not called to be a pastor.)
Anyways. Back to the whole two services thing. What they’ve done for people my age (college, career, i-don’t-know-what-the-H-i’m-doing-with-my-life) is encourage us to attend the first service and then the second service, we are invited downstairs to share donuts, coffee, and discuss what was preached about in the first service. It’s actually pretty cool sometimes.
Ever since September, we’ve been going through Hebrews 11, which recalls a list of certain men and women in the past who did great things for God with great faith. This past Sunday, we quickly breezed through 3 men: Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
Now these men = crazy, in my opinion. They were lucky to be alive after many of the things they experienced – God obviously had a hand in their lives; otherwise, they would have been S.O.L. so many times. As they are mentioned in Hebrews, you’d think that there would be paragraphs hailing them as heroes of faith when this and that and the other thing happened…but no.
All 3 of them are remembered for one thing: blessing their children before they died. Aaaaaand moving on…
Clearly, somebody dropped the ball.
So then we got talking about it. And we realized that in the cases of these men, there was a legacy being passed on, and in some ways, that was worthy of greater mention than the bigger, more obvious deeds of courage.
Joseph was the son of Jacob, Jacob was the son of Isaac. For at least 3 generations, the same blessing was given to the next generation – in fact, it probably started even earlier than that. Not that it instantly made any of them perfect saints, but it was important to the outcome of their days. Very few parents really do this anymore, lay their hand upon the head of their child and speak blessing, prosperity and faith into them, to send them out into the world trusting that they will make the right decisions even without their advice or help.
Then we were asked the question: what legacy and/or tradition have our families passed down to us? And what will we be passing down to our children, if and when we have them?
I’m not a parent. But I can’t imagine a future where I won’t be one someday. These kinds of questions are important to me because I really don’t want to FUBAR my kids. (One of my favourite words, FUBAR.)
I figured out that I’ve been given multiple legacies from my parents, some good, some not so good, all a little strange. From both my mom and dad, I received music. (The only other thing I really learned from my dad is a general distrust in men, but that’s not why I’m blogging today.)
I can remember being 6 or 7 and listening to the radio with my mom when she started to teach me to hear harmony in a song. At first, I was like, “Huh? I only hear one note; you’re crazy. This is hard and I don’t care anymore.” But as time passed..I don’t know..I heard it. And it sounded amazing when it was done right. Even now, it still baffles me that certain notes, when put together, can produce – for lack of a better word – an eargasm. Yes, I said it. Eargasm.
My mom also taught me how to adapt and survive, literally as in “If you don’t have this knowledge, you will die” and figuratively as in “Your general enjoyment of life will improve if you learn this.” And it’s funny, for me anyway, even though I learned those particular skills so long ago and rarely have to employ them, they’re still in me like second nature. Last night, I almost got locked in my workplace by a janitor who didn’t notice me until the last second. Already, in that last second, I started thinking about what I would do if I was indeed locked in. Let’s forget for a moment that I have a phone and my boss’s number inside of it – I was already calculating that I would be in there until Monday because of the long weekend, I had such and such amount of food and drink, I could sleep there, use the washroom in that, listen to the radio, finish my book, possibly request a couple days off after I got out, and be A-okay. Deep inside of me, I just know that I wouldn’t freak out and fall apart – there’s no reason to; just figure out how to stay alive and do it.
And then, in a weird roundabout way, I learned from my mom a little more who God is. She raised me to fear him, love him and seek more of him. When I was young, I lived in an almost-constant fear of doing anything wrong. I dreaded punishment and learned that if I just did everything I was told, I would get away unscathed. Because of that, certain things came as a great shock to me. Like the day whenever I discovered some of my friends watching Titanic in the basement of their house. They were not allowed to watch this piece of garbage. And yet, here they were, sniggering about Kate Winslet’s boobs and mocking the fact that their mom was right upstairs and had no idea. For me, this was rebellion of the worst kind. People didn’t come back from that kind of punishment and I fled the basement like it was a monster.
And yet, taking money out of my mom’s purse and putting it into my own piggy bank never seemed to bother me until I was discovered with 1/16th of my college fund that I had not earned. Neither did discovering all of the answers at the back of my math book. “Hey,” I figured, “she wants the right answers, I’ll give her the right answers! Why did I never look here before?” Having to re-do all of the problems later was one of the bitterest moments of my young life.
Even now, sometimes I feel like my morality is a bit muddy. Making the right choice doesn’t come naturally to me. I have little tantrums. I over-react. I yell at God when he doesn’t do things my way, which is obviously so much better than his.
And, weirdly enough, I get upset when I see other people that I care about not making the right decisions. When I happen to be able to look at the big picture and say, “Uh uh. That thing you’re about to do right there is only going to end in tears, my friend.”
Weirder still, I have the same reaction when it comes to children. I’ve done some babysitting in my time, and I have seen all levels of ugly when it comes to how they can treat me and one another. And yet, for some reason, I experience a slight thrill of happiness when a child looks up at me with defiance and says, “NO!” and runs away. It tells me that they have a mind and will of their own. They’re using it in a totally inappropriate way at the moment, but I know that they’re certainly not going to be clones who are content to be told what to do and when to do it. They will fight, they will struggle, and if they’re lucky, they will be willing to learn when life hits them in the face with a 2×4 of reality.
The bottom line is, I want my children to know God. To love him and serve him with all their hearts. But I don’t want them to do that because it’s how they were raised and that’s all they know – I want it to be a choice that they have made for themselves, even if it means that they absolutely must try running around in the world and making all the worst choices for a season. Their hearts will break and they might wish they’d never done it, but they will know what God’s grace and forgiveness truly is because they’ve experienced it firsthand. He won’t be just a genie in their back pocket that’s always been there for good luck, like he sometimes is to me. The truth is, I don’t have a relationship with God right now because that’s how I was raised. I have a relationship with him because I have learned, in the legacy that I have been passed down, what NOT to do. In my fear of punishment as a child, I had to become sneaky to accomplish what I thought was best. Rebellion and anger was something I was not allowed to express outwardly, but it was raging in my heart and to me, that is almost worse. The legacy I want to pass down to my children will definitely include music. It will definitely include adapting to and surviving life’s circumstances. But it will also include, I pray, the desire to struggle, to challenge the status quo, to ask questions, to mess up and be forgiven, to be patient, to be passionate, to be wrong, to be compassionate, to treasure what they have because nothing is guaranteed, to make God and his way the most important decree in their life not because that’s what they’re supposed to do, but because every other way has been tried and those have got nothing on how God can redeem the crap out of everything.
That’s all. Easy, right? =)