The first Sunday after Easter is a special one in our church. It is the Sunday in which the 5th grade students are baptised (if they so choose). It just so happens that we have a 5th grader in our household so this was our year to partake in the dunking ceremony. The students don’t enter into this ritual lightly. They have spent the past semester in weekly bible study with our minister and another caring adult who have lead them through the meaning of baptism in our church, church history, and most importantly, answering their questions about what it means to be baptised, God and Christianity. Both parents and minister make it clear that this is the choice of the child and that there is never any pressure to do anything they don’t want to or are uncomfortable with. Dear Husband and I did our best to leave the decision up to Addison but I’m sure there was an unspoken expectation on our part of what we wanted for him.
In the months leading up to this day Addison has had a lot of questions about God and spirituality. Lots of questions about heaven and what happens after we die. Questions about the nature of God and God’s role in our life. Big, deep questions. Some things that I still ask myself. Never have I wanted to give Addison a fluff answer or dismiss his ponderings. At the same time, I never wanted to give an answer that made it sound like it was the be-all and end-all answer, I never wanted him to feel that he shouldn’t question what he has learned over the years. I have tried my best to give a foundation of belief all the while encouraging him to search for the answers he yearns for. Some concepts are not easily explained and this mom may not be able to answer something that theologians have been debating for centuries. I must admit that some of his questions I just don’t know the answer to and may never fully understand in this lifetime. But I do know about grace and compassion. I do know that living the life that Jesus taught can be hard. That believing in things unseen takes faith and life will be full of inspiration and doubt.
Many questions I just don’t feel qualified to answer. Yes, I have my life experiences to help frame an answer to why bad things happen or where God fits into the smallest of circumstances yet is still bigger than the universe, but I don’t have the confidence of years of training and study to give answers of authority. That is where a church family comes in. I can’t begin to explain how comforting it is to know we have ministers to turn to for the really tough stuff. Knowing that Addison and Harry will be counseled by someone who would never judge, condemn or dismiss their questions. Every single question Addison came up with was carefully considered and taken seriously by our minister. Never was the answer “because I say so” or “that’s just what you have to believe so stop asking” or “because the bible says so”. Never did Dear Husband and I have to worry that our family would be looked down upon or judged. Never have we felt the scorn of whispers about our parenting methods. Never have we received the passive-aggressive “well, we’ll be praying for you” when we wrestle with faith or Addison questions religious authority.
So it was with a heart and mind full of questions that he stepped into the water and began his quest. A quest not to conquer but rather to discover. You see, faith is a lifelong journey down a river that twists and turns, flowing peacefully through quiet valleys or swiftly crashing over rocks. How appropriate that these children take a step toward adulthood through the calm waters of baptism. Dear Husband and I sat on the front row and watched Addison make a firm and loud affirmation of a life of love and service. I wiped away tears as the loving minister who has been there to patiently listen to his questions and thoughtfully answer them, carried out the ritual of dipping him into a new life with Christ.
Parenting is dang hard and holding these little souls in our care is daunting. We try to give them the tools they need to make a successful journey but ultimately it’s up to him to ride that river. Parenting is a lot like the faith journey Addison has embarked on. We have a lot of questions but not a lot of concrete answers. Right now the ride is smooth and sweet but we know there are rapids up ahead so we tighten our life vest and get ready hang on for dear life. We do the best with what we have, lean on those with more experience than us and cling to the faith that there is something bigger than us looking out for him.
We don’t know where this quest will take him or what path his river will flow but we know that this church family will support us along the way.