Losing my church was like another divorce. Life would never be the same. My deepest disappointment was from knowing that my children were at the age when they would not blindly follow me to another church. Why would they risk another rejection in their lives? After all I had done to assure their Christian upbringing, now they would not even have a church home. I didn't know if my parents and I would end up at the same church either. I was disgusted with organized religion altogether after I witnessed the way doctrine could be skewed in the wrong direction anyway.
I cannot judge what degree of faith my children have or ever had. Maybe church was just a social place for them. Maybe they never experienced decision of faith as I had thought. Maybe that was my story - not theirs. But I feel as if I failed at my most important responsibility as a parent.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.
Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.
I cling to these verses and to stories from other parents - good, Christian, non-divorced parents that struggle with the same concerns. They tell me that my faith cannot be inherited by my children, but they must acquire one of their own. I cannot help but see the two most painful times of my life as contributing to my children not needing church any longer. Two upheavals that left only ashes of what once was a part of their lives. I could blame myself completely, but I know that God is bigger than my failures.
I'll never forget sitting in the car with my son in the church parking lot shortly before it closed. He felt bitter at all he had seen, and rightly so. I said, "God had nothing to do with what happened here. People made these decisions, not God. It's that free will part of being human that messes everything up."
How do I say to my children - this is what you really need in life - when they have witnessed my battles and failures? Why is it I need faith so badly, believe so strongly, defend it so vehemently? Because God proved himself to me long ago by living inside me, by being there in my darkest moments - the ones I created out of my own free choices. In this life on Earth there is little else we can count on but God - not even a church.
What I know for sure is that God will be there on any given day in their lives when they need Him and call on Him. And the happy ending is that my parents and I found a wonderful church in a community between our homes. My mother and I sit in the choir loft next to each other once again just as we did for so many years in our former church. An added bonus is the fact that over 30 members from my former church have made a decision to join my new church! So there are familiar faces everywhere. I know that this new church will welcome my children as well if they ever need it.
I have to add that my daughter and son are good people. They overcame a lot and had the integrity to put it behind them. We have a wonderful relationship and even as adults they continue to bring great joy to my life. So I cannot say that many of my prayers have not been answered. I see the answers every time I see them.