I was raised with the idea that if I didn’t go to church every week that I was going to be in bad standing with God, and I could jeopardize my place in heaven. But then my parents changed religions in my early teen years and I was then told if I continued the religion I was baptized in that I was on the fast track to hell. So there’s that.
I suppose that leaves my path to salvation up to me doesn’t it. I didn’t exactly have a family unified by one religion while growing up, but I’m happy to say I have one now- it just kinda simplifies things. Which is nice because autism can complicate things 😜
I’m not going to lie, getting my kids to church is not easy- is getting kids to church easy for anyone? But when Mr. L was little, the stimulation of church was a complete nightmare. Which in turn made me as a mom wonder what was I supposed to do with him? It made me question did he need to go? Did I need to go? If we didn’t go was I leading his siblings down a path of wandering and destruction? Like always, I just wanted to do what was best for my kids- now, for next week, for their adult lives.
But like I said… autism can complicate things. Autism can complicate traditions, expectations, vacations, dentist appointments, holidays and yeah, even Jesus’ house of worship.
So this journey that I call parenting hasn’t just made me question doctors, teachers, and my parenting skills, it’s also made me question my testimony and my relationship with God. When you have a child screaming, rolling around and trying to wack their head on the ground because church is full of unprofessional singers… It makes you wonder, is this really what God wants for your child?
I know my father in heaven loves me and he has unconditional love and patience for my child. But if my child has a cognitive disability then he doesn’t need to build his relationship with God the same way I do, and he may choose to not have one with him at all, and that’s ok too. There are other ways to measure if you are a good person, and honestly just being kind to others is what matters in this life. What I believe is waiting for us in the next life will sort out all these man made levels of confusion and with love and grace all will be made right.
Mr. L is not going to hell because he doesn’t take a weekly sacrament, and he isn’t going to an outer darkness if he never chooses baptism for himself. And for the record I will never force a baptism because I believe in letting people make their own choices, and a forced baptism isn’t a personal decision.
So what does going to church look like for my family? I sometimes teach, so I always go to church on those weekends. Sometimes my husband teaches, so he always goes on those Sabbath days. As a family we get the kids to church 1-2 times a month so my children know what our religion looks like, so my kids have opportunities to learn about God, and so my offspring are exposed to teachings of being good people. And sometimes when my kids choose to fight going to church, but I was asked to say the closing prayer in sacrament meeting, I get dressed, drive to church by myself, sit in sacrament meeting by myself, say the closing prayer and then go home- skipping the rest of church. You may ask, why put in that effort? Simply because I keep my word. I said I would say the closing prayer, so I do.
But the cool thing about my religion is that it can be taught at home. I don’t need to drag my kids to a building for them to learn how to pray, or to see how a relationship with our savior is built. My children can learn how to pray for comfort by watching me pray. As a mother I show by example what it means to read scriptures, show grace, how to serve others, how to be kind, and how to trust in the Lord.
I believe our lives our filled with always changing seasons. And I believe in balance in all things. I’m in a season where church worship happens a few times a month. But in this same season Mr. L has weekends where he needs to decompress from his school week and church simply can’t happen. My husband and I look for balance by teaching our children the tradition of Sunday worship with others from their community while taking weekends to care for their mental and physical health too.
Sure, sometimes I feel guilt for not dragging my offspring to church because tradition dictates that’s what a good Christian- God fearing mother does. But then I sit back and remind myself that God doesn’t want my children kicking and screaming, he wants their best. Sometimes their best is staying home, spending time as a family, and resting together before gathering up their backpacks and trekking off into another work week.
So we don’t go to church every week like the little Rachel I was once, was taught to do. But I’m teaching my little ones to love your little ones, and sometimes that’s all I can do.
I think you’re making the exact kinds of decisions that have God’s blessing. 💕
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Thank you Jane, I hope so 💜
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Rachel, I’m so sorry you got off to a rough start – damned if you do, damned if don’t – literally!!
If the religion you’re following now is Christian (Bible-based), then no, it’s not about going through the rituals – or even being a good person! It’s about recognizing that we are all sinners (none of us perfect), but that God loves us anyway, enough to give His only Son for our salvation. We become “good people” (better than we were, anyway) not to earn salvation, but because we’ve been given it already!
Spending Sundays as a loving, stress-free day of rest and just enjoying God’s presence sounds like a great way to bring up Mr. L to know he’s loved and accepted, enabling him to trust Jesus instead of anxiously anticipating a lightning bolt from Him.
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