by: Dineen Miller
Sundays have never been easy. Getting two small children to church was not a simple feat. Yet there was more to this predicament. Not only was my husband an atheist, but also I would realize later on that this was a major target for enemy attack. The difficulties would start Saturday evening and would often escalate by Sunday morning. I can’t tell you how many Sundays I went to church near tears or didn’t go at all.
Time taught me to prepare, to pray in advance, to recognize the attacks for what they were, and to don the full armor of God. I wanted my children to grow up knowing God, but I worried. I knew full well the weight of influence I had over my daughters’ lives, and I knew that was true of my husband, as well. What would they think of their father’s decision to not attend church? How would it influence them? Would they one day make the same decision?
My only recourse was to pray and continue on. While we lived in Europe, both my daughters prayed for Christ to come into their lives at different times. My youngest while with me, and my oldest on her own. She was the one I worried about most. She seemed unsure with her decision, but I continued to pray that she truly had made that step. I had to leave it in God’s hands.
As they grew and got older, my oldest daughter began to balk more and more about going to church. The struggles grew and at times were overwhelming. Sometimes I would share this with church friends, but I don’t think they truly understood. They had husbands who were the spiritual leaders of the family and their children fell in line with that. Mine didn’t. Advice usually came in the form of, “Who’s the parent?” or, whether real or perceived, I felt judged as inadequate.
Finally, at the time my daughter reached fourteen, I quit fighting. She didn’t want to go to church anymore. Her attendance had already been dwindling, so I let her to make this decision. My husband had been clear in the past about them being allowed to make their own choice. Plus, I saw absolutely no benefit to forcing her to go. I knew my daughter and pushing her one way usually resulted in her running in the opposite direction.
People at church finally quit asking me where my oldest daughter was. I don’t know if they understood or if they agreed. I felt like a failure, yet I didn’t see any other choice. I had to have faith that she was in God’s hands and that I had made the right decision.
For the next two years I prayed everyday as she left for school. I would bless her as I kissed her goodbye and pray for her protection as she walked out the door. I prayed for God to fan the flame in her heart, that she would come to claim her own faith in Him, and maybe one day choose to return to church.
One week I was away at a writers’ conference. After I returned home and I was alone with my daughter, she told me she went to a youth service with some friends. I stayed quiet as she told me about how the youth pastor had made a call during the service for people to come up and commit or recommit their lives to Christ. I began to cry when she told me she had gone up, alone, and recommitted her life. She said she cried, but she knew she had to do it.
She’s never been comfortable with my fussing over her. I kept that in mind and told her how happy I was and how excited I was for her. I tried not to make a big deal out of it, because I knew she wouldn’t like that. Later, when I had a chance to be alone, I praised God for his amazing faithfulness. He’d heard my prayers, and He’d answered them.
My daughter still struggles at times to go to her own church, but it’s different this time. Now her struggle lies within herself and not with me. I don’t worry anymore. I see God’s hand in her life, I see her desire to follow Him, and I see she has now claimed her faith as her own.
And I rejoice.