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The Rapture & How To Scare Your Kid to Death

jude-and-archer-8-months-old

(Editor’s note: tongue in cheek a bit on this post.)I don’t really write about my faith much, but I was kind of laughing with some childhood friends the other day about  our collective church experience growing up and how it scarred us. And also scared us. I mean wait  – it SHAPED us! UGH. See how complicated it is? And now that I’m a parent, I’m wondering how our current church experience will affect Jude and Archer one day.

JUDE’S REQUEST

A few weeks ago we were sitting in church when Jude leaned over and told me he wanted to be baptized. This came as a little bit of a surprise as we haven’t really pushed for this. I treaded carefully as we discussed it. I mean, it wasn’t  entirely out of the blue — after all, we do attend church regularly and talk about our faith on a regular basis. But despite all that, we didn’t want him to ever feel pressured into that decision – I wanted it to be organic and natural, something that he chose to do. I wanted him to avoid the anxiety I felt as a kid. So I maybe overshot it a little bit as I was all “Are you sure?” with a skeptical eye and trying too hard to play it cool.

Let me back it up a little bit. Growing up, I was raised in the great tradition of the Southern Baptist church.  Which is shorthand for the fact that there was a LOT of anxiety centered on Sundays. Big church! Big hair! Revivals! Hellfire! Brimstone! Altar calls! Highly emotional summer camps! I mean, good grief, I was baptized THREE TIMES because I was so anxious i hadn’t done it right! Did Jesus understand that I really meant it for sure? (um, yes – He did).

THE END IS NEAR

It was also about this point in early 90s church culture that there was a huge focus on the Rapture and the End Times (remember Kirk Cameron in Left Behind?). We had books entitled “1994?” on a shelf and a lifetime subscription to end times-related magazines. My mom in particular was fascinated with this whole topic, and so it was probably about 1993 when Mom was driving me to school on a given Tuesday, and she casually says, “So. Jesus is coming soon. Will you be ready when he comes? Because you don’t want to be left behind.”

And right then and there, with my braces and permed hair and a pair of Doc Martens, my seventh grade heart plummeted to the floor of our red Cadillac sedan which was playing Sandi Patty cassette tapes. WHAT. It scared the absolute living daylights out of me, Internet. In fact, I was pretty sure that I was never going to live to see the eighth grade. Or get married. Or have sex (ahem – hormones). And that The Fugitive with Harrison Ford was going to be the last movie I ever saw in the theatre. Every movie since then? Just a bonus! Because THE END IS NEAR.

Mom and I laugh about it now. I told her a few years ago how scarred I was and she said penitently, “I really scared you, huh.” And I was all “THIS IS PUTTING IT MILDLY” after popping some more anxiety meds.

LOOKING FORWARD

Despite all that anxiety, my church and faith experience has expanded quite a bit since. I love where we’re at now as a family and I’m thankful for the journey that my faith has been. Because it’s just that – it’s a journey. A growing, flourishing relationship with God. It’s not just “fire insurance” or winning an argument with someone on Facebook about who’s right about whatever. And my hope is that Jude and Archer will both be able to grow in their own individual relationships.

I can’t want to see Jude baptized at some point soon. I want him to feel ownership of his faith journey and that we will be there with him, hand in hand, every step of the way. And as long as nobody’s living in fear of not seeing the eighth grade, I think we’ll be ok.

Now excuse me while I go watch the Fugitive again on Netflix. Because that was a GREAT movie.

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