Each generation has endured a unique set of challenges. Without fail, each generation thinks theirs is the hardest in which to thrive. Since becoming a parent, I only now realize their plight.
Only 20 short years ago, I began high school in a time with no social media and no real knowledge of life outside my hometown. Now, I live in a world where my 7-year-old doesn’t understand why I won’t buy her a cell phone for her birthday.
How did we get here?!
I have the fondest memories of my childhood, growing up in southwest Ohio. A small town where I still reside with my own husband and children. You can’t walk into Kroger without seeing an old friend’s mama and getting the latest scoop on their life. The neighboring towns hold some of my closest friends and the church where I was raised. Community Harvest Church is where my faith was founded. It is where my children are forming their own relationships with Christ. At 6 years old, I didn’t realize the greatest gift my mama would ever give me sat at the top of the hill on Conservancy Road.
I wasn’t always so grateful to be raised in church. With every denied request to attend a party, I resented it. Sitting at home while my friends enjoyed Spring Break in Florida caused me to loathe my seemingly strict upbringing. I had no idea that the situations from which my parents were protecting me could’ve altered my future. I don’t know why I wanted to go so badly. Whenever I found a way to subvert their wishes, I ended up miserable and petrified at the thought of getting caught. But this nagging feeling in my gut always kept me from straying too far. I know now that it was the Holy Spirit convicting me.
The moment I asked Jesus into my heart in Sunday school class at the age of 8, the Holy Spirit covered me. Ezekiel 36 speaks of Jesus cleansing Israel of all impurities and giving them a new spirit. Verse 27 says, “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Even when I wanted to stray, the Holy Spirit gently guided me back to where I belonged.
Being exposed to and extensively taught the Word of God consistently in my formative years had an immeasurable impact on my life. Contrary to what today’s culture would have you believe, raising your child to trust and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is not brainwashing. Christianity isn’t founded on forceful, punitive doctrine. It is a personal choice to have a personal relationship with a perfect savior that results in eternal life.
Instilling Biblical principles in your child is a kindness that will serve them when they reach the age in which they can make their own choices. Proverbs 22:6 implores us, “Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Simply put, if we don’t teach our children who Jesus is based on the truth of His Word, the world will teach them who He isn’t based on the lies of the enemy. Society portrays Christians in one of two ways: boring, spineless pushovers or self-righteous, judgmental haters. Neither of these are true. There is confidence, freedom, and immeasurable joy to be found in following Christ.
No matter how much I tried to go my own way, my roots ran so deep, I couldn’t deny the truth. Over the past couple of years, as the world dismantled before our eyes, my foundation held me together. I’ve only gotten stronger, by the grace of God. Gripping the only shred of truth left in this world, the veil over my eyes was lifted and I discovered Jesus in a whole new way.
Instead of viewing Him as an obligatory weekly commitment, He became the center of everything. The rock on which I stand. Matthew 7:24-25 says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
To those who were raised in the church but simply going through the motions, as I was, I urge you to surrender fully to Him. His way is the only path to authentic joy and peace. To those who have left the straight and narrow, there’s still time to come home. Like the man and his prodigal son of Luke 15, Jesus will welcome you home with arms open wide.
Finally, to the parents who’ve done their best to raise their children in the ways of the Lord, don’t lose hope. Every morsel of truth ever heard is planted and will not return void. Keep praying. Keep showing them Jesus in every interaction. They know the right way and one day, when they realize it’s the only way, they’ll thank you.
Erica Caudill is a lifelong Christian who runs a blog. She is a married mother of two children. She can be reached at email@example.com.