Has your mother ever forced you or drag you to church? How persuasive or persistent was your Mom on church attendance and membership?
My mother’s strong faith was very notable for as far back as when I was a little girl. I grew up noticing her love for God. Initially, it was not a problem, but as time went by, it became a bit of a burden to me. She would pray in the morning, evening, and sometimes in the afternoon when breaking her fast. Everyone staying with us had to attend her early morning and evening prayers regardless. We had to kneel beside her in a row during prayers. As a little child, I wanted my early morning sleep desperately, but with mother, early morning prayer time was not a choice. The fact that my mother was praying did not stop her from checking on every one of us as she would intermittently open one eye to monitor us. During the prayers, if anyone dared to dose off while she was praying or leading prayers, the person would be awarded a deep pinch from her. Due to this, I started avoiding kneeling anywhere close to her. I had received so many of that pinches in the past and was always sure I would get one before every prayer session finished. As we grew up, my mother wanted us the children to join different activity groups in the church and be serving God. She would prepare us for early morning ‘Mass’ and lead us to church services.
Surprisingly, I kept running into different people who shared the same story with me. A good number of them with much more intense stories. Many of them, mainly women, described how their mothers forced them into attending church by all means. Some, it was not really their mother but the actions and reactions of their pastors, clergymen, priests, preachers, etc. Some even shared how their Sunday school teachers or youth pastors were being judgmental or threatening in their teaching. Unfortunately, many were offended, and many turned their back on God because of these issues.
Come to think of it, why are some mothers so strict about church stuff? What is their intention? Honestly, in most cases, these mothers mean good. In normal circumstances, every good mother wants what is best for her child and would do anything possible to make it work. They have tasted the goodness of God and know He is worth the sharing. All their efforts, strictness, forcefulness is just out of a pure heart most of the time. No responsible mother would be unconcerned about the fate of their Godless children. It is the joy of all God-fearing parents to see their children walk in truth, just like John expressed:
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth”.3 John 1:4
These mothers must have wanted their children to be given to the things of God and be deeply involved in church activities. I can still remember my mother’s words of prayers. I can still feel her desires and longings.
If you have ever been in my shoe, I would humbly like to appeal to you to take a second look with an open mind. Many mothers did what they did because that was the best way they knew how to do it. They did all they did because of love and not hatred. They meant good and not evil. They wanted the way of peace and salvation for their children and did not commit a crime in doing so. They still deserve our love, appreciation, and respect. The best gift that any mother could ever give her child is CHRIST. As the world continues to promote (probably unintentionally) rebellion amongst youth, mothers see beyond. They are the personal manager of their children as opposed to the generic management style of the world’s system.
Even if we have witnessed the excesses of our mother and felt we were being pushed unnecessarily, we should realize that they are still our mother who cares about our eternal value. The mistakes of our mother do not change the reality of God and the Christian faith. Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life. Modernization can never change this fact. Everybody knows that sins, waywardness, drunkenness, lies, theft, jealousy, hatred, adultery, pride, fornication, etc. are real. No system of the world has succeeded in eradicating these shameful acts of men. Only Jesus can save from sins. Wickedness will continue to plague the world, but those that come to Christ will be kept safe under the shadow of His wings. We should be wise in not letting the offense in our parents’ mentoring style determine our eternal destiny.
Some people also have their story on how they were misrepresented, judged without trial, deceived, persecuted, or mistreated by their pastor, church leadership, or family at one point or the other. We must understand that we are all human beings. We sometimes see things in different ways. Our mode of approach, which in most cases is influenced by our background, culture, exposure, education, carnality etc., differs. People make mistakes, and the devil can use anyone against anybody. That is the reason we must ensure our relationship with God is personal and focus on Him mainly.
A friend once shared with me how a youth pastor led her daughter away from God as he introduced her into drugs and alcoholism. Another friend shared how her mother’s health kept deteriorating because her pastor would not support her mother’s medical treatment. The children were left to deal with the mess. There is no doubt there are a handful of unfortunate situations and bad influences in some churches. However, the fact that these things happen in some places does not speak for the generality of the church. Therefore, it is not wise to pick up quarrels against God because of the behaviors of some people. When you seek God sincerely, He will guide you to the right church where your soul could enrich itself in the truth of the gospel.
One of the people I spoke to who detested the religion of her mother, said to me that she found faith in the spirit of an insect, which is what she has been worshiping. If we refuse the right path, there would always be an alternative; something to fall for. The enemy is out there waiting for potential captives. He would supply all the pleasures you could ever imagine at the expense of your soul.
Your life is significant and precious before God, and I would like you to know that being a child of God does not stigmatize you. It brings meaning into your life and makes your life count. Walking with Christ saves you from all kinds of troubles, afflictions, sicknesses, and headaches. It helps you handle so many challenges in this world that ordinarily would drag people onto their knees. Even when situations come, you will receive strength and grace to go through them and come out successfully. We should never allow the offenses of the past to define our presence or endanger our future.
Regardless of any situation, Christ remains the Lord over everything. He is loving, understanding, caring, patient, and merciful. If God were to mark iniquity, none of us would be able to stand. But when mercy finds us, the story of life is rewritten in redemption. Hope replaces despair freedom replaces servitude. Please, give Christ a chance to shine His light into your heart. His love for you is unquantifiable. Believe me friend, Christ loves you still.
Akinloye, O. Margaret