I don't know if my mom reads this or not. I don't even know if I sent her the link, but I've really got to get this stuff off my chest...at the risk of probably offending her.
So last night I approached the subject of church with my mom. They are the ones who raised me to go to church and now, as a result I have a fabulous husband and a wonderful family of in laws. She told me she always prayed for a Christian man for me. So why, oh why have they stopped going to church?
Simple really. The congregation they went to wasn't very friendly, there was a lot of politics, and they had a LOT of questions about some of the elders/deacons there and they're qualifications. I have to admit since I've grown in the church and learned more and more, I have to agree with these things. I'm not saying that the church doesn't have nice people who want to do what's right, I'm saying that actions speak louder than words when it comes to encouragement sometimes and no one...absolutely no one has contacted them to bring them back. The church I go to would be calling them once a week if not more to schedule meetings to see why they're not coming and offer encouragement. It speaks a lot of the eldership in the congregation that they've lost a family and no one even bothered to figure out why. My parents have been sorely discouraged by this and the example of many of the members. So, in short, I can't blame them for not going there.
But I can blame them for not picking up and heading elsewhere. I tried to encourage my mom and tell her that there was several other good places she should go, but she insisted when everything was right and perfect in her mind and she understood everything she would go somewhere she liked. I think she's confused about the whole fellowship hall vs. no fellowship hall, but that's no excuse not to go. But, she argued, she wasn't going to go somewhere "like my church" and have her head filled with what might be "fallible" ideas so she could learn more about it. No, she had to figure it out on her own. And like her mind (and every other person on this planet) can't be fallible?
Excuses go a long way in telling me that she just doesn't want to go. Now she'll argue with me that she's not making excuses, that she just doesn't "think" about going anymore and that's not the same as "deciding not to go." But, I ask you, is "not thinking" about church the same as making the decision not to go? Making the decision, conscious or not, not to set the alarm clock on Saturday night to go on Sunday is very much telling me her priorities are elsewhere. She knows how I feel about this and how I feel about my kids being exposed to a home that's not centered around God. I don't think they're bad people or mean and cruel, I just simply want my kids to grow up seeing the wonderful result of a God-centered family. I feel if they always wonder why Nana and Pa don't go to church it will cause a barrier so to speak with Punky and Chicken's relationship with them. Does that even make sense?
In essence, my parents make nonsense excuses. I recently told my step-dad that they should get out and get some fresh air in the evenings and take a walk. He's diabetic, she's overweight so it would be good for both of them. His excuse? "If you go out walking around here, you get shot!" Whaaaaa? I live in a city about 3 times the size of theirs with three times the crime rate and I can assure them, they probably won't get shot taking a walk down the road or even going to the track field and walking there where EVERYONE walks. The majority of their city is over the age of 60 anyway so chances are between the age and the alzeimers that's kicked in, the person that's about to shoot them will likely forget what they're doing before they pull the trigger. Anyway, I digress. Back the excuses. I tried to tell my mom she should get out more and stimulate her brain with fresh air instead of the asbestos in her house. "What's wrong with staying inside? My mom did it and everyone tried to nag her about that all the time. She was perfectly fine staying inside." My grandmother was a bitter, hateful woman (who did have a sweet side with me but rare for others to see) who complained constantly and ultimately died from an aneurism due to years of high blood pressure from said worrying and complaining. Apparently she wants to be like that?
Come see your grandkids. "That long (2 hour) drive just kills me." Or, "We can't afford the gas." Or, "I just don't feel like it." When I call her on it, it somehow winds up my fault because I haven't come to see THEM or they have to bounce checks to come here. No responsibility taken there.
I once asked them to meet me half way, an hour for both of us for lunch so they could see the kiddos. "We can't get ready in time." But yet it was 9 o'clock her time and it only took an hour to get there. She could get ready in TWO HOURS? I think that time she actually had a legitimate excuse later, but that was the first thing that came from her mouth, she couldn't get ready in time.
I could write for years on this subject. You would think after years of trying to make them see things I might have gotten somewhere. I guess they just see me as their little girl who's full of poop and I don't really know much. I like to think of myself as insightful and humble enough to admit when I need to do something (even if I protest in the beginning I eventually come around). I'm observant and sometimes that's my downfall. The worst of all is I just can't keep my mouth shut when I see someone, namely my mom and step-dad unhappy and pretty much suffering through each and every day just to get to the next. So last night, I offended her and fully suspect that I won't be hearing from her for a while. She's just like that.
I KNOW they've had hard times and aren't doing well financially. I KNOW they don't have God in the center of their lives. I'm not judging their hearts, only their actions. I KNOW they love me and the kids. But WHY make so many excuses that hurt me so much and eventually hurt the kids when they're old enough to understand?
I KNOW all this because I've lived my whole life wondering why I wasn't good enough for my dad to want to have a relationship with me. I've lived knowing my mom did the best she could with what limited resources she had but still left me with some pretty severe emotional baggage. I've lived my entire marital life feeling unworthy of my Hubby and wondering if I will ever get passed it. Now I keep wondering if I'm going to mess up Punky and Chicken, too. But overall, I think I've got a pretty stable life full of goodness and happiness. Hubby is amazing to have put up with me for so long and he's just an amazing guy overall. If had to count the number of times he's sat and held me while I cried over these things, well, I just couldn't do it. Last night I was pretty upset and just like always he held me and helped me understand that not everyone makes the choice to be happy or do something about their unhappiness. I have and will continue to do so. If I stop, I hope someone jerks a knot in my tail!