This post was originally published for Mother’s Day 2014. It is as relevant now as it ever was, so I am reposting it this year in honor of my sweet Mama. To those of you who never knew her, you missed a real lady.
Recently, I was handed a red carnation as an acknowledgement of my participation in a community event. Looking at it, I was reminded of a tradition in many churches when I was growing up.
Have you thought about how you came to have (or not have) faith? Where and how your traditions and the things you believe about God were formed? What formed the basis for your personal beliefs as an adult?
Many of my friends come from faith backgrounds very different from mine and I am always fascinated to hear how they came to embrace the beliefs they now have. Sadly, some have specifically rejected the idea of “religion” altogether and have gone their own way. Theirs are interesting, if wrenching, stories, too.
For me faith took root in my family, specifically the Christian upbringing I was afforded by my parents. Generations before me believed in God and in the divinity and sacrifice of Jesus to redeem humanity from sin. Those beliefs were incorporated into our daily routine and the rhythm of life in general.
We prayed before meals. It seemed we went to church every time the doors were opened (my Dad was – and still is – a pastor, at the age of 89). Everyone in our family had their own Bible (the King James Version, naturally!) We studied and memorized Scripture passages, many of which come to mind now when I need them most.
Our family’s social life revolved around the church. Fellowships, potluck dinners (we called them “dinner on the grounds” – a very confusing concept to me as a child), Wednesday night “suppers”. We were Baptists, so we enjoyed pie and coffee at church members’ homes, never a cocktail or a game of cards.
Of course, we always got new clothes to wear on Easter – maybe even a “bonnet” – usually from the Sears catalog!
We acknowledged God in the beauty of creation. Growing up in Key West meant we were constantly reminded of His presence all around us. I specifically remember my mother looking at a breathtaking sunset one evening as we sat on lawn chairs in the front yard after dinner, and saying, “How can anyone say there is no God?” I was about 8 at the time but to this day, when I look at a sunset I remember the awe and sincerity in her voice and I am grateful to the One responsible.
When we visited relatives in North Florida and South Carolina, we practiced the same traditions and shared an understanding and acceptance of the same truths. Faith in God, faith in Christ, these were indisputable and foundational.
When my mother succumbed to cancer in 1997, the assurance of her eternal destiny and the certainty that I would be reunited with her in Heaven were what got me through – and continue to comfort me now.
Faith. I personally don’t believe it can be inherited from your parents nor can you “vaccinate” your own children with it. But it certainly can be modeled – with consistency and depth. How fortunate and thankful I am for my parents, for those who came before them, and for our church community, all of whom brought their faith to me in tangible and memorable ways and helped me make it my own.
Did your family traditions help you form your personal faith? What values were modeled to you through the rhythms and routines of your young life? What are some of your most significant memories?