To The Christian Mom Who Grew Up Without Jesus

Hey, Mama. Did you grow up without Jesus? Were you raised outside the church? Did you have a non-believing mom or an unchurched dad? We have a lot in common, sister.

I was raised “Catholic.” We went to church most Sundays for a couple years, I think. I colored on the offering envelopes and played on the floor of our pew.

Not to say that Catholics don’t know Jesus, I just didn’t.

I didn’t know Him until after High School. I sat in an Evangelical Christian church listening to a man teach life application out of God’s Word, and I heard for the first time in my 18 years of the wonderful news of Jesus Christ. The incredible sacrifice He made for me. His mercy, forgiveness, and grace. I asked Him to be Lord of my life just a couple months later.

I’ve been following Him for 18 years now. It does not escape me that this is the year where I turn the corner to living WITH Jesus longer than I lived life without Him. Yet, after 18 years of loving, serving, and doing my best to obey Him, I feel at a loss for how the next 18 are gonna go.

Did you grow up without Jesus? Were you raised outside the church? Did you have a non-believing mom or an unchurched dad? We have a lot in common, sister.

I’m a Christian mom not raised in a Christian home, and I’m at a loss.

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I have so many questions and concerns about the next 18 years. I love my Jesus, and I know His Word is as true today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. But… it would really help a sister out if it were more specific.

Should we do devotions or not? Alone or as a family? Is a Christian preschool or elementary school a big deal or no? What about VBS? How do I help a child navigate a non-Christian world and all its lies and temptations? Lies and temptations that I believed and still battle.

I’m afraid of raising them “not Christian enough,” and I’m afraid of raising them “Hyper-Cuckoo-Christian,” too. I’m afraid of being too laid back, waiting for them to take the lead and find Jesus on their own, that I’m not doing my job. But I’m also afraid I’ll take my job too seriously, too militantly, and turn them off of church and Christians and Jesus altogether.

The later isn’t my personality quite as much as the former.

I’m far more likely to be too chill about Jesus. To not know how to have the conversations or how to read the signs of interest. To forget to encourage their own relationship with God because that’s not how I remember growing up.

I have no memories of VBS or Bible crafts. I never listened to Psalty or G.T and the Halo Express. I never tuned into Adventures in Odyssey or went to Winter Camp. I never read Bible passages around the kitchen table to celebrate the birth of the Christ child or discussed the beautiful, sacrifice Good Friday and healing, miracle of Easter Sunday.

So how do I do all that with my own kids? Should I?

Does my life reflect Jesus enough for them to know Him? Or do they need to talk it out, here me say it, explain my faith? When and how and at what age?

I can’t talk to my mom or dad about any of it or look back to my childhood for direction. It just wasn’t there. That wasn’t what they did.

I have wonderful friends and in-laws and mentors in my life. I worked in Children’s Ministry for almost a decade. My husband knows and loves Jesus and had a wonderful Christian upbringing. But I still feel at a loss.

I still wish I was raised in the church, to know Jesus at a young age. I wish I experienced it so I would know better how to walk my children down that path.

I still wish I had Christian childhood memories to guide me, personal youth ministry experiences to inform me, Vacation Bible School lessons to prepare me. I feel ill-prepared and late to the game.

But then again, I guess it could be a blessing. I have no formula to follow, no blueprint to feel bound by, no lines to color inside. I also have the opportunity to take part in a great miracle. If someone like me, with no spiritual legacy to speak of and all kinds of junk of my own, can be used by Jesus to raise these tiny, sinful children into Jesus-loving adults, well, HALLELUJAH AND GLORY BE. THAT’S a miracle! One I can’t take credit for or feel that I have a right to based on my family and the generations of Jesus-lovers before me. There weren’t any.

I’m have these 3 little people, and if they come to know Jesus it won’t be because I followed my mama’s recipe for raising Jesus followers (even though I still wish I had one of those recipes). It’ll be because Jesus did a miracle. It’s always because Jesus did a miracle. Whether there are generations of Jesus followers or not. It’s always His miracle. I just know me, and I know I would make it all about me following my mama’s recipe. So I thank God I don’t have that option.

The only option I’m left with is trust in my Lord, careful listening to His Spirit, dutiful prayer and obedience, then patiently waiting to watch His miracle. His great gift and miracle of salvation.

I can’t raise my children “in the church like I was” because I wasn’t. Instead, they get the blessing of a mama fully relying on Jesus to help her do something she has never seen before: have children who grow up WITH Jesus.

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