My husband and I do not come from strong faith backgrounds. What I mean by that is this: there are not generations of Christians standing behind us in our families. We do not have a lineage of believers – a string of saints that have gone before us to pave a path for us.
Our families are littered with addiction, abuse, adultery, divorce, and just about every other kind of sin of which you can conceive. Our parents were all divorced, all of our siblings have been divorced, many of our aunts and uncles have been divorced (some numerous times), even one set of my grandparents were divorced, and the other just “lived in sin” after my grandmother died.
Sure, there were people on both sides who “played church.” You know the types. Either they went to church on Christmas and Easter, or they showed up on Sunday mornings, because that was the politically correct thing to do in your small town or your career. But having lived with and among these people, I can attest, and my husband can attest, if they had faith in Jesus, it never made it to their hearts.
(the sole exception is my mother. she is the spiritual matriarch of our family.)
When Keith and I got married, we swore it stopped with us. No more abuse. No more divorce. No more fake faith or pretend Christianity. We are changing our family’s legacy.
(and don’t you dare think we don’t recognize the irony that we ended up infertile and adopted; we even ended the bloodline of our family disaster)
We concluded that before we got married, as a matter of fact. Long, intense discussions were had. Commitments were made, words were banned from our vocabularies, agreements were decided.
But, unfortunately, we don’t live on an island, with just us, our son, and our pets. We live with and among other people – people who still don’t have real faith. People who wound, who are selfish, who are prideful and hold idols.
Last night we had to tell our precious, faith-filled, tenderhearted, Jesus-loving six year old son that he can’t tell certain family members he loves about Jesus anymore. Apparently the last time he was with them, and we weren’t, he prayed for them to turn back to Jesus. And they got angry. Thank God they didn’t say anything to him, but waited until they saw Keith and me last night, and unleashed on me.
And then today, amid tears, our son said, “He won’t come to my end of year school program, because it’s at a church.”
How do you explain to a six year old, who is full of the most uncomplicated, innocent, childlike faith ever, that people are fallen? evil? prideful? sinful? wrong? How do you walk through death with a child, when they know that person isn’t going to be going to heaven, no matter what that person insists “they know in their heart is true”?
It’s lonely, not having spiritual back-up. I mean, I realize that Jesus said we have to love Him more, and that He came to turn families against each other. But when that actually happens – when the rubber meets the road – it is incredibly lonely and painful. I watch generations come into church and sit in a row – sometimes three or four or five generations deep – and I ache for that. What must it be like to have a spiritual heritage that spans, if not centuries, then at least multiple decades? What must it be like to have grandparents who can talk to you about the really important issues of life? What must it be like to watch your grandmother read her Bible, or your great-grandparents not fear on their deathbed, because they are going Home?
I wish I had a list of “8 ways to reclaim your spiritual heritage” or some such nonsense. But today I don’t. Today I have a brokenhearted six year old, and his equally brokenhearted mother, who has spent the better part of three decades pleading with Jesus for her father to come to know Him. Today I have this: if you have a deep spiritual heritage, be grateful, and thank your parents and your grandparents. You have such a blessing and a gift.
If you are like us, and you are walking this faith path alone, well, I guess we have each other, huh? And we have the promises of God, to which we can cling like an anchor in a storm.
But it’s still lonely and painful.