Sunday, April 5, 2015

42099:: In which I mull over telling the truth

Not so many years ago, I would have been spending this day like many others: wedging myself into an already over-crowded church, wearing a new outfit and shoes that turned out to be a bad choice, wondering who all these "new" people are in church today, to be followed by a rousing hunt in the garden with dyed eggs and too much candy, followed by photos of children in their frilly dresses and over-flowing baskets of booty.

Instead, I am sitting in my robe with my cup of tea at the kitchen table listening to the dishwasher work its magic on yesterday's dishes, watching the cat freak out and run inside at the bursts of wind and blowing leaves, and laying out my paperwork to get the taxes finished.

So what happened to me to turn me into an anti-Easter, church-ditching Scrooge? I guess you could say, "Truth."

Looking back, I think my search began long before I became aware of it. I recall a discussion with my then brand new sister-in-law about my discomfort with lying to children about things like Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. My reasoning was, how can we expect children to believe us when we tell them that God and Jesus are not made up stories when we mix the truth of "important holidays" such as Christmas and Easter with Santa and bunnies and eggs. Her reply was, "Just wait until you have kids of your own." Meaning, I suppose, that the pressure to conform to what other families and churches and children are doing during these seasons is enough to make you lay down your questions and convictions. And she was right.

I did not have the strength to be "that mother" who spoiled the fun for her children by denying them the innocent fun of wearing K-Mart costumes while dragging pillowcases around the neighborhood to stock up on candy that I did not want them to eat, followed by sitting on a stranger's lap in the mall to get a piece of candy after drilling them about never taking candy from strangers, followed by pasting heart-shaped doilies and stickers onto cards made of red construction paper to give to others in exchange for cupcakes with so much red dye that it came out looking like they'd eaten beets the day before, followed by wearing green clothing to placate imaginary arm-pinching leprechauns and eating cupcakes with so much green dye that it came out looking like they'd eaten... well, green dye the day before. And on the heels of all this mindless, sugar-filled frivolity was the capper: dying eggs no one will eat, filling plastic eggs with candy no one will eat, and arguing about "who ate the ears off my chocolate bunny" until Mom or Dad takes them all away and puts them in the freezer - while all the while pretending that these activities are harmless because we have turned them into opportunities to teach our children about "Jesus."

Until I wondered why my children walked away from church and its hypocrisy.

How do we get ourselves into that place where we sacrifice truth and our convictions for fitting into whatever is currently perceived as "the norm"? I have even heard it preached from pulpits that "even though this holiday started out to mean that, it now means this." I suppose the idea is that we can redeem practices that originated as worship of false deities by slapping a Jesus sticker on them. That's what it meant to them, but this is what it means to us now, so now it's O.K.

Then I read this: Deuteronomy 12:29-32 - When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.

It saddens me that I did not have the confidence to live out the truth I believe in and lost many opportunities to impart that truth to my children. It does not escape my notice that we might all be in a different place spiritually had I not knuckled-under to the pressure of being normal and accepted by people whose opinions do not really matter in the scope of eternity.