My husband and I had two very different experiences growing up. He was a from-the-cradle church kid. Church twice on Sunday; prayer meeting on Wednesday; youth club on another night. Vacation Bible School, church camp, going to Christian concerts; he was saturated in Christian culture. Not so for me.
I love my parents, and they were the exact parents God wanted me to have to be who I am today, but Jesus Christ was mostly a curse word in my home. There was absolutely no spiritual influence. No prayer before meals; no church on Christmas or Easter; no Bible stories. The only evidence of Christianity in our home was an unread Bible and a crude little manger scene taken out at Christmas. The first time I heard the creation story was in my Kindergarten classroom, and after that, over the years, I longed to know who God was. I had my times of going to Sunday school with a friend, being taken to Pioneer Girls with a friend, and being given a Bible by the Gideons in 5th grade. By the time I was 14, I felt frustration that I knew so little. There was no one to help, and I was left to my own devices and a public library. If you think reading a systematic theology is hard when you're a Christian, try reading a Catholic one (I was baptized as a Catholic, so that's the route I took) when you're 14 years old and you have no idea what you're reading. Fourteen was not a good year for me, but God meant it for good.
One of the struggles I have often had on the occasions when I have taught young people is relating to kids who grew up in the church. And sometimes, that goes for my own kids. I just cannot wrap my head around why someone would not want to take the heritage of faith being offered to them. I have confronted many apathetic teens for whom the gospel has become a drag, and I can't relate. And it's not just teens who are like that. Many adults who grew up in the church are similarly lukewarm. Maybe it's because I'm an all or nothing kind of person, but I can't understand why when we're given this amazing grace, this unity through Christ with the God of the Universe, why some don't seek it eagerly.
As I continue in seminary, I am learning so much, and seeing so much more to learn. Not everyone needs or should go to seminary. But the drive to know God better doesn't cost a thing, and it's easily satisfied these days: cheap books, free resources, and freedom to worship without fear. Yes, there are changes in negative ways with regard to toleration for Christians, but we're nowhere near the persecution for our faith stage in North America. There is disinterest in the things of God even among Christians. I've heard Christians talk more about politics than they ever do about God.
When we are denied something, it becomes more precious. I don't look back on my life in an unchurched home as something that set me back or crippled me in anyway. It made me appreciate teaching when it was given to me. I continue to appreciate it. My school is not famous. It's no Westminster Theological Seminary or Southern Baptist Seminary. My prof isn't famous, but he's a great teacher, and a godly man. I'm so thankful for him showing up every week to teach. And I'm thankful for the other profs and for the president of our school who care that the school continues to do what it does.
It is a wonderful thing to have been raised in a godly home. But that on its own is no guarantee for a godly life. Who would have thought that I would someday end up as a 52 year old seminary student? I'm thankful for those years when I had to look hard. I'm thankful it was not all handed to me. It made me appreciate the opportunities I was given.