On Sunday afternoon at a special youth baptism/confirmation service, Ling was confirmed. She “confirmed” the baptismal vows we made for her when she was a baby, owning her own faith and commitment to following Jesus.
It was a great and joyous time.
As part of the process, she wrote a testimony about her faith journey and presented it during Sunday School to all the kids of the church. Unfortunately, due to a work engagement, I didn’t hear the testimony (something that inspires loads of guilt and regret), but I did read several drafts beforehand.
I show up in her testimony, which is gratifying. In mostly positive ways, which is even more gratifying.
She wrote about growing up in the church from the time she was born since her mom is a “pastor of sorts.” She wrote about Bible stories I told with condiments and vitamins “where Jesus was always the ‘grown-up’ pills and Satan—the sugar bowl.”
But then she wrote about how she never heard about having a relationship with God until a youth pastor taught her that concept a couple years ago.
Never heard about having a relationship with God????
In my faith tradition, there’s nothing more important than having a personal relationship with Jesus. Believing you can have a personal relationship with God is what sets my tradition apart. When I went to college, many of my friends who “became Christians” had church backgrounds, sometimes even strong ones. What made them "convert" was discovering that faith involved more than rote religious services or belief in certain doctrines or even exemplary behavior. God became real and they learned they could have a genuine relationship with Jesus, like He is friend, a brother, yes, even a lover.
So how did my daughter grow up in our household for 15 years and not hear that she could have a personal relationship with God???
I asked her that.
She said, “I don’t know. I never heard it.”
“So when I said that God loves you and you can love him back, that didn’t sound like having a relationship with God?”
I guess not.
Maybe the problem is that I’ve tried to avoid using a lot of “Christianese” with my kids. I try to avoid “Christianese” in general, because when you speak it outside of the church, most people have no idea what you’re saying.
And let’s be honest, there are a lot of people who can talk the talk but not walk the walk.
Unfortunately, I apparently have trouble doing either.