My husband and I grew up practicing the same religion differently. We both considered ourselves to be Christian, but my family only attended church sporadically and he was a devout churchgoer – driving 45 minutes each way every week to attend a small but tight-knit church. Despite these differences in practice, we were both raised with Christian values.
It wasn’t until I started studying religion and attending church regularly when I was in college that I really formed my own ideas. My parents both felt pushed away from the church when they were young because of ideas of how things should be done that were not based on scripture. I distinctly remember a story my mother told me about when she was a child and my grandmother missed church on Mother’s Day. My mom was told that her mother was going to hell. How awful that must have been to hear as a child (not to mention that nowhere in the Bible does it say “Missed church, go straight to hell. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200”)!
I’m not one to believe that you have to go to church in order to be a good Christian and I feel that my parents instilled excellent values in me without taking me to church every week. That being said, there is a community aspect to church that I’ve come to realize is increasingly important to me, especially raising my son. Being able to meet in a safe place where he can learn and make friends and ask questions is such a big deal and will shape who he becomes.
In trying many many churches as an adult before finding the right fit for our family, it’s become most important to me to instill in my son the importance of following Jesus and generally being a good person. The biggest part of this, in today’s world, is not passing judgment on others and bringing a “come as you are” attitude to the table, regardless of whether he’s in the company of Believers or not. Jesus loves everyone. Period. He doesn’t just love the people who do good deeds, or believe certain things, or are Christians. He loves everyone. It’s a difficult concept for some adults to understand, because there’s so much “gray area” in our lives as we get older, but it’s a concept that is infinitely easier for children because it really is just that simple.
As we’ve begun the journey of imparting these values to our son, we’ve done so in simple ways that he will be able to understand. We’ve started by saying grace when we eat dinner together and we say a prayer before he goes to bed. At 15 months old, he’s gradually started to understand that there’s some significance to what we’re doing and he tries to participate – holding our hands and saying “Aaaaamen!” when we finish, with a big smile on his face. It’s my hope that as he gets older and begins to have questions and wonders where he fits in to this world, he’ll have a solid foundation for knowing that he is loved by his Creator and that he can do so much good in the world by showing others the same unwavering love in all circumstances.
Bio: Gina is a work-at-home mom who taught high school history until her son came along. A native Floridian, she enjoys sharing about her life, motherhood, and adventures in her hometown on her blog “Mom Explores Orlando”. When she’s not wrangling a toddler or working on her blog, Gina often dreams up new recipes to try out on her husband and plans vacations she won’t take for years.