|This picture has nothing to do with this post except that it shows the love of a sister for her brother while he was sick.|
This has been one of the most contested of our changes, but not by us. We most certainly do not believe that people have to agree with us, but they don't have to be rude either (the criticism was from outside our church). We've had people, who were lovingly concerned with our change, and some that were trying to shake a finger at us. I just want to reiterate, if you don't agree with us, that's totally fine, but just be nice about it in the comments :-) This was not a decision that was made lightly. This took a long time of mulling over, prayer and conversation before we made our final decision.
There are certainly many reasons we chose to attend this church in the first place. It would most certainly be too long to go into here. I will say that it was a bit of a swing in the opposite direction of where we were attending. That was a difficult time, trying to find out what were really our convictions. This last church had Sunday school, something we had not been in agreement with for many years. But we decided to give it a try. They also had a youth group. That was 'tried' with Dad in tow, to see what they did, and the teaching they were getting. It was decided that it was not beneficial. So our oldest just helped out in the nursery during that hour (her choice). The preaching was wonderful, and very Biblical. So there wasn't anything wrong with that. The church was varied in their convictions on non essentials. And, being non essentials, there was nothing wrong with that. Convictions are personal, and we have a few of them, convictions that we are not willing to give up/change. It was our unwillingness to give them up that people thought was a concern. I would argue that it wouldn't be much of a conviction if you were willing to easily let it go :-)
Any homeschooling parent will know what I am talking about when I say that homeschooling isn't the easy road! As such, it is hard to go it alone, although it can be done. There was only one other family, with older children, that were homeschooling. Any other homeschooled older children were sent to public school once they got to high school age. This left our oldest child the odd 'man' out. As was stated in the past two Changes posts, our family was on shaky ground. As such it was proving difficult for Isabella to fend off the peer pressure. Whether it was homeschooling, lack of cell phone, or the fact that she hadn't seen the latest movie, she was always the oddball. I witnessed first hand the ridicule that she received. At first we thought it was Isabella that had a problem with making friends. It is now evident that it wasn't her, but that no one wanted to be her friend because she wasn't "one of them". For that, I can be VERY thankful!!!! But it was still heart breaking that she felt alone in the world. Anyone who has read Michael Pearl's article, "Jumping Ship" will know that feeling can lead to jumping ship. And we really saw that happening! Granted, the bigger problem was that our ship wasn't something she wanted to stay on, but it didn't help to have the other influences around her.
So we began to consider what should be done. Our first focus, as it should be, was to change things in our family to make our ship more pleasant and livable. But during this time it would prove one step forward, two back if we kept dangling that carrot before her eyes. And a sinful carrot at that. The deciding factor? We happened to sit behind the youth group in service. Someone was taking over as the youth leader and decided to have the youth group sit through service. We came in late, and the only place to sit was behind them. There isn't any other way to say this...I was appalled. Plain and simple. And NO, my children are not perfect in the least, but the behavior I saw was totally unwarranted. And the whole while my daughters were taking this in.
The following week we decided to try another church that friends of ours attended that we knew to be a family integrated church (though they don't call themselves that). I was not able to attend because one of the boys was sick. I was a bit nervous since the girls were very upset about leaving our then current church. They came home and Jeremiah said that they loved it, especially Isabella. Now, do understand my children are not theologically minded, they base their decisions on how many playmates they have :-) But what a relief to hear Isabella tell me all about her time there. How everyone talked to her. It was very telling, that just on that one visit, she said, "It was wonderful to not feel like an oddball!"
People there are living most of our convictions. The great thing is that there is freedom there, but that is not taken out of context. Each family is following what they see the Scriptures speaking, and they want everyone there to live that freedom as well. Our children have other homeschoolers to hang around with. Modesty is upheld, but there are no rules as to girls must wear dresses only or anything like that. They are very big into families being a close unit, and as such do not schedule a lot of church activities.
There you have it. The simple reasons. Seemingly not so simple to all though. We've been told we are being selfish. Yes, really. We have been told we should stay to be a light to those around us. That does indeed sound Godly, but at what cost? We have been willing to be honest and assess our family's strengths and weaknesses. We are not strong enough to be that light. Not yet, anyway. It makes no sense to lose our children to the world to save others. What we feel would be the right thing? For those parents of those teens to be the light to their own children. We've been accused of being isolationists. We shouldn't be a part of a group that thinks like us. I would dare say that pretty much everyone does so, without thinking of it. We were just more mindful of it when making our decisions.
No church is perfect. Our family isn't perfect. We shouldn't choose a church on the sole basis of what can it do for me. We are to be servants. But that doesn't mean you throw your family's needs to the wind either. We are glad there are other families out there that can be a light to those around them. We pray we can be such a family one day. For now, we have entered the greenhouse to tend closely to our tender and battered plants. One day, Lord willing, we will be strong and ready to venture out into God's big garden!