My father was a Presbyterian and my mother a Southern Baptist, which means that I grew up knowing the Westminster Catechism and how many cups of sugar you put in sweet tea, but very little about Lent, except that it involved giving up chocolate.
We now belong to a church that follows the church calendar and things like Advent and Epiphany and yes, Lent.
Turns out it's not about the chocolate.
My parents did a great job in a lot of their parenting, but being raised by two different sets of presuppositions confused my siblings and me. My husband grew up in a church that was more about the potlucks than the gospel, which confused him and his siblings, too. Which is how, 20-odd years later, you have two people with a gaggle of kids, trying to do what's right, and going to church every week, who wake up one day and realize they are really, really good at playing church and really, really not good at real Christianity.
Some people call such a reevaluation of faith "reJesusing." I don't know if that's what this is, but I do know that the timing is terrible. Six sets of eyes bore into mine, seeking answers, seeking leadership, and seeking truth . . . yesterday.
Now of course, I'm not talking about heretical issues here. We adhere to the creeds and basics tenets of orthodox Christianity. But we want our faith to be more than intellectual adherence without genuine love. I know of Christian homes where racial and/or homosexual jokes were laughed at over Sunday lunch. I know of Christian homes where children are made to feel guilty for questioning their faith. I know of Christian homes where one face is for home and a different face is for church. I know Christian homes where the letter of the law ruled over the spirit of it.
Been there, done that.
A week into Lent, I'm late, but not too late. My pastor encouraged us to use this time of lamentation over our sin to examine ourselves, to ask God to excise one or two attitudes from our hearts, not just until April 24, but forever.
On my list, one stands out: God, help me not use the convoluted and confusing spiritual environment I grew up in as an excuse to be bitter against the Church and her servants. Don't let my immaturity and weakness in the faith color my children's view of God. Show us all what true Christian love is. Whatever you do, please don't allow me to pass anything other than an authentic faith-even if it's a messy one-down to my babies.