Trusting that turning things over is what’s needed

Christmas Eve was the deciding factor. I hadn’t heard so much cursing uttered in such a short expanse of time since I had worked in the prison system. And these were coming from my son’s mouth on our way to church.

“I don’t know why you think it’s okay to drag me to this f***ing place every Sunday, and especially on Christmas, when I have a lot more important things to do. I’m old enough to decide how I spend my time,” he shouted at me while my daughter put her hands over her ears, trying to muffle the un-muzzled conflict.

“Every OTHER week,” I corrected. “You are with your dad every other weekend, so it’s mathematically impossible for me to drag you to church EVERY weekend. Someone as smart as you think you are should be able to figure that out.” I couldn’t resist slicing in half his argument.

“And when I last checked, I couldn’t find a more logical place than church where to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. Think about it.”

But at 14, he is not prone to much thought beyond immediate gratification. On those rare occasions when he attempts to be conscious, it swerves toward contemptuous of the world around him.

“Believe this, believe that, blah, blah, blah!” he ranted. “The church is all a bunch of f***ing hypocrites trying to cram God down everyone’s throat. Religion thinks it can tell you how to think and act. Well, I don’t need any help with that.”

“Yup, just look at how in-control you are of yourself and your life right now,” I said, resisting speeding around the curve-filled, deer-laden 12-mile church route in response to my heightened blood pressure.

I debated stopping the car and kicking him out in the middle of nowhere, but he was already there. Plus, I didn’t need another thing on my mind when I sat down at the church piano bench to play the Christmas prelude I’d prepared. There was also the issue of the food I’d prepared for post-church dinner at a friend’s house. Life goes on despite spiritual bankruptcy, so I kept driving, unprepared for what came next.

“You told me you hated church while you were growing up, so why force me to go, Mom?!”

Great question, but not really a question. Bait. Debate bait. I internally debated taking or ignoring it. Instead, I split the difference.

“The church I grew up in seemed more interested in attendance than faithfulness, more concerned with rules than relationship with God, and wasn’t deeply Bible-based. It excluded women from top leadership roles and on top of that, the parent dragging me there didn’t talk about faith in our home between services. Church was a total disconnect for me, going through the motions with no emotion or life application. I stopped going as soon as I started living on my own.

“So, this is the last time I will make you go to church. I’m not into hostage-taking,” I said. Not the response he anticipated.

The question that really begged answering was why I returned to church. Not to the same church, or church, per se, but rather to God, after my many similar, but less profanity-laced childhood family trips to church.

Somewhere, somehow, I figured out church should be more action for God and less about church activity. My issue had never been with God, but how others had falsely packaged Him. No “I saw the light” dramatic faith transformation needed. Need and self-reliance running amuck are what drove me to my knees. If I saw any light, it was from the flames of the fire God gradually lit under me to burn away my own youthful defiance that had sabotaged my adulthood spiritualty: a great re-starting place.

From the corner of my eye, I sized up the long-term rude awakening my son had in store from doing things “his” way versus “His” way. We all remain susceptible to it. But time, toil and trouble eventually lead us to consider exchanging self-wisdom for Godly-guidance.

“Just don’t wait ‘til you’re 45,” I mentally willed my son. And I deliberately turned over this aspect of parenting to his Heavenly Father.

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