A relative of mine once accused me of raising my children in a narrow-minded environnment, referring to their Christian upbringing and surroundings. Initially, I struggled with how to react. Clearly, intended as an insult, my first inclination was to refute the claim and defend my parenting skills as anything but sub-standard. Yet, I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit telling me to hold back and NOT to react at all. I politely ended the conversation, confused and yet somehow unashamed.
Here’s the thing. We have been very intentional raising our children so that God is part of our everyday lives, conversations, decisions and solutions. God doesn’t simply show up on Sundays and holidays, fading into the background the rest of the time. However, an awareness of God isn’t what makes us a Christian family. At church and school and home they learn Bible stories and concepts, but it is through the development of their personal prayer life and individual encounters with holiness that they have discovered the significance of Christian living.
The idea of living without God was so foreign to my children that it never occurred to them that people could. When this relative professed being an atheist, they were genuinely distraught. Out of love for this person and for Jesus, they questioned the reasoning, and expressed sadness over the notion of living an empty spiritual existence. Their concern was construed as “badgering” and interpreted as unfortunate that my poor children had been “brainwashed.”
I have decided that this conclusion and later accusation were both correct. Yet instead of feeling inferior, I am filled with joy. First of all, if my children’s brains are to be “washed” it is my prayer that it could be done by the Lord with scriptural teachings. (See 1 Cor. 6:11) Secondly, if being “narrow-minded” means keeping eyes on Jesus and things eternal, then we have been “training them in the right way.” (Proverbs 22:6) Christ said, “Enter through the narrow gate…” (see Matthew 7:13-14) After prayerful contemplation I realized that there is no reason to defend our lifestyle. While nothing is gained in debating Christianity with a hard-hearted person, I will–with my children–continue to pray for the salvation and joy that could be there instead.