Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Than A Carpenter

Okay, if your spouse were, say, a chef: do you think you would eat Hamburger Helper and dine out at McDonalds? Let's say that your spouse were, for example, a law-enforcement officer. Do you think you'd feel okay about breaking the law on a regular basis? Or what if your spouse were a carpenter? Would it be fair to say that you would probably live in a structurally VERY SAFE house?

Here's my point: Usually when we or our spouses have a career, especially one that we care very deeply about, it overlaps into our personal lives. It affects the way we live our lives. It affects our decisions and the path we follow.

My husband is a Pastor. Needless to say, our religious life is so very important to us. We truly value our rich Lutheran heritage. Now, without going into a full-on rant, I will try to explain why I am struggling right now so much.

My husband and I want the very best religious LUTHERAN education for our children and church life for our family. As a pastor, he really won't settle for anything less than top-notch. And, I feel, if there's one area of life you shouldn't compromise on, it's your faith life. Right now, our church and our kids' school are, well, failing. We want to go to church and feel like it is a Lutheran church, not just some generic Christian church. We want our kids to have a Lutheran education, not just some generic Christian education. I know, many people lump all protestants together and figure we're all pretty much the same. Not at all. As a matter of fact, I would say that the LCMS (our church body) is closer to Catholicism than it is to most Protestant groups. Think of it this way: If you sent your kid to a Catholic school, wouldn't you expect them to learn the rosary? And the Holy days? And the Hail Mary prayer? So, why does my childrens' school think it's okay to skimp on the Lutheran Catechism? And, if you were to go to Catholic Mass, wouldn't you expect to see the Catholic ritual? So, why at my Lutheran church do we have personal testimonies at the pulpit and why do we have the pastor using the sermon to promote various church programs (stewardship, small group ministry, sunday school, etc) instead of explaining the Scripture readings and pointing us to Christ?

I am struggling. If you have a deep faith life, you will probably understand. If you love something very very deeply, imagine a struggle with that and you will definitely be able to relate. Maybe you love your child and fight to make sure she has the best education available for her (Yes, I'm talking about you, Heather!) Maybe you're an environmentalist and you want to make sure the earth and its natural resources are there for your children and grandchildren. Whatever your passion leads you, that is where your energy will go also.

I am at a crossroads because we live logistically too far away from any other Lutheran schools, even if they were more "Lutheran" and we don't know if they are or not. We have discussed just taking the kids out of the school they are presently in, and just joining a conservative church as near as we can find one, and putting the kids in some type of non-parochial school and taking the religious education aspect upon ourselves 100%. This isn't the worst option, especially if at their present school they are receiving religious instruction that is actually counter-Lutheran. However, we just took them away from their friends 6 months ago to move here. They've finally started to adjust and make new friends. I can't imagine taking them away from their new friends too. I don't know what their threshold of tolerance is for being forced to change schools and find new friendships.

I am stuck. I want what's best for my children but I don't want them to suffer. I believe I know what they need but I'm not sure I can deliver it. I am frustrated that one of the reasons we even decided to move here was that we believed this school and church would be a good place for our family and our kids. We were so wrong.

I feel like this is a real test of my faith. We believe we are to serve God first, and love no other above Him. If I truly love God more than any other, even more than my own children, then I feel I should try to find the best faith education for my children, whatever that means. But I'm torn because as a mother I want to protect my children from being taken away from their only friendships here in Texas, the same way they were taken away from their friends 6 months ago.

I'm so tired of going round and round in my head about this. I can't think about it anymore. By the way, the title of this post is a reference to the story about Jesus "More Than A Carpenter" by Josh McDowell. I don't mean to imply that my husband is, in some way, more than a carpenter. It's just a play on words.

11 comments:

April said...

All I can say is really pray about it and listen to what God tells you. Also, kids adapt pretty good. If you do choose to move them, they will find new friends.

Dorsey said...

I understand your struggles more than I can put into words of my own.

Heather said...

What about letting them at least finish this school year out at the school, but *still* taking their religious education into your own hands 100%? Is it too counter-Lutheran for that to work? (I'm just trying to think of a compromise that would allow the kids to get the religious ed they need and deserve but not be pulled from school after 6 months...) Or do you guys have year-round school there so that isn't even an option...?

I hear you about the struggle to find an appropriate church; we're going through the same thing ourselves. We switched churches about 7 years ago and found what we thought would be our longterm church home. Then two years after that, the pastor (who was the main reason for us switching) retired, and we're now on our third new pastor in as many years. We are not getting any of what we need from this church anymore, and have made the decision to find something better. Of course with the Advent season coming up, it isn't necessarily the best time to see a new church in its "normal" life; everything is getting gussied up for the holidays....... *sigh*

Hmmm, this is turning into a rambly, rambly comment. I guess I should stop commenting. I just want to say hang in there, I hear you, and keep the faith!!

Toots said...

I was raised in a prodimently Jewish area, I've gone to at least 20 Bar/Bat Mitzvah's and probably two Baptism's in my life. I am now married to a wonderful Catholic man. I myself am "undeclared" as a religion. In my life I nearly converted to Judaism and now I'm looking into becoming Catholic. So I have seen things from a lot of different sides. And in my mind, if you believe in God and you believe that he made you special and different from anyone else in the world and you believe that God hears your prayers and helps you along in life, maybe some of the details aren't as important. I'm not trying to take away from your faith at all. I just try to think of things from a different prospective. In all major religions there are conflicting views . . . but that's they way the world works. Your children are getting an education (good) in a christian school (great) and learning about what makes us all different (priceless). In my opinion, it's you and your husband's duty to teach your kids what you believe in and teach them to be tolerant and accepting of different views. I certainly don't pretend to have the answers for you. But I encourage you to look at things from a different point of view . . . that always helps me when I'm stuck about something. Also, I really hope I didn't offend you in any way. Good luck with your decision, listen to your heart!

Veggie Mom said...

We're "in transition" as far as our church goes. We've been members of this congregation for years, but we feel as if we need to take another path now. Hey there! I'm visiting from SITS. Gotta Great Giveaway Goin' over at My Place. Please stop by when ya can!

Heather said...

You've been tagged! Come on over to my blog and check it out!

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

All I could think of when I read the first part was how the 'shoemaker has no shoes'--when my husband was IT we had crappy computers at home, now he sells real estate and our home is way too small ;)

I'm sorry the school is not teaching the Catechism--maybe they do this later? I would be upset withe the church too--it sounds nothing like LCMS. Is there anyway you can talk to the elders and office about this. Maybe they could offer an early morning traditional service? If your husband is a pastor there, he should have some pull. Who knows maybe he was brought to the church to bring the conservative values back?

On school--I'd keep them there for now and do religion at home. Is it a good education or are there issues here too--if the education is also sub par, I would start looking now--private schools (the good ones) can be very competitive and the good ones are full by January.

Carrie Thompson said...

okay, I am praying for you because I know how the whole unhappy with church situation feels and what a struggle it is no matter the relegious affiliation! on the school matter, well you know where I stand...move them one more time farther down from the heart of Texas to a little city known as Houston and home school them! yeah!

serisouly praying for you, I understand your struggle.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

What a tremendously difficult position to be in; I will also keep you in my prayers.

(P.S. I tagged you to give us some Real Mom words of wisdom :))

E said...

I think we love God best when we love our children well. This is what God intends... that we devote our child raising years to child raising. When you do what's best for them you do what's best for God is my deepest belief....I don't think the two are ever out of sync. Good luck. I know this is hard for you....

Bridgett said...

Ok, this helped explain my confusion...is your husband not the only pastor at your church? Is the school not directly connected to where he's located? I know just from my Catholic school experience (going to and teaching at), that the pastor can really set the tone if he chooses to...

That said,I don't send my kids to our parish school...it just didn't have the right feel for me. Statues of Mary in the hallway but sort of a disconnect on values that I think are very Catholic but take a back seat to things like the rosary...so we lucked out and found a charter school that was founded by a number of Catholic Workers (as in Dorothy Day) here in town. It's the most Catholic, and catholic, school I've ever been in (much more like a Catholic university, frankly--no catechism (it's public) but the charism is there). And we supplement with Good Shepherd Catechesis at the parish....

Our other choice was homeschool. Which is always in my back pocket, just in case...