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Better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart…

Call me old-fashioned. I still say good-night prayers with the girls every night before they go to bed. Actually, I just hold their hands and listen to what they have to offer up.   BethyGirl1 has had the same prayer since she learned to talk, basically, always ending with, “and thank you for the food. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” 

About 2 weeks ago, BethyGirl1 balked a little when I came to say prayers, and informed me that she would rather say it to herself.  I assumed that part of it was growing up stuff, and part of it was that she didn’t want her sister to hear her.  Last night, she slept downstairs, (the a/c is out, and it’s cooler) so I thought perhaps she’d want to say them together. Sister was out of earshot, and we had had a particularly snuggly happy day.  I asked, and instantly noticed a funny look on her face.

me: “You want to say prayers tonight?”

BethyGirl1:  *scrunched up, worried face*

me:  “hmm what’s up? is there a reason you don’t want to say them?”

BethyGirl1:  “well, it’s just hard because  you and dad believe different things…”

And there you have it. If you know me at all, you know how that cuts to the quick. 

I did the right thing, and told her that I knew it was confusing for her, etc etc.  I’ve had enough classes to know what to say and what not to say.  I did make sure that she knew that God could hear my prayers too, and she acknowledged that, yes, she did believe that. I didn’t want to pressure her, because I knew she felt funny about it. I asked her to think about her reasons, if she didn’t mind, and let me know if she came up with any concrete feelings on why she didn’t feel comfortable anymore.  She said she would, and we left it at that. She knows it concerns me, but I’m glad that she told me how she felt.

 The problem is, what do I do?  It breaks my heart. 

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5 thoughts on “Better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart…

  1. It sounds like BG1 is working on sorting out her own beliefs, yet she doesn’t want to be disappointing to either you or her dad. Coming to one’s own faith (rather than the faith of your parents or other loved ones) is something that takes a long time and often is the result of some serious life-stuff. As her mom, you have to be prepared for her to make decisions that are different than your beliefs / practices because you know what she has been taught / exposed to for her entire life. She is a smart girl and I believe that she will develop her own faith based on not only what she’s been taught / is being taught, but also from her own experiences and study. It’s not easy to let our children make their own decisions because we’ve been entrusted with their care, but you know as well as anyone that faith and belief is a very personal matter and it has to come from within yourself. You don’t want her to buy into one way or another just to be pleasing to you or her dad — you want her to develop her faith and beliefs to be pleasing to God. {{{hugs}}}

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  2. She has gotten the impression somewhere that it is not ok to pray with her mother. I’m not going to act like that’s ok.
    I’m taking the high ground on this. As strong as my feelings are about her dad’s church, I have not gone point by point explaining them to her. She’s a child.
    She knows that I love her no matter what building she worships God in.

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  3. I agree with you — she should feel it is ok to pray with her mom or with anyone. I’d try to find out why she feels it’s not ok… is it something someone else is telling her, or is it something she has come to think on her own? That would make a difference in how I would approach discussion about it.

    And you know that worshiping God is more than just on Sundays… it’s in every part of our lives. It’s about the heart and the attitude and is often shown through following the Bible’s teachings about the acts of worship. You can be worshiping in what some people consider to be the “right building” yet with the wrong attitude and your worship will not be pleasing to God just as it won’t be pleasing to Him if you worship Him in ways that contradict His instructions. Congregations form through a common idea / belief about how to worship; differences in views and interpretations is what led to various denominations over the ages. I think that the common desire among varying Christian denominations is the same – to be pleasing to God, to serve Him. I don’t think anyone would deny that. The differences are in how to worship and how to serve… and that’s what becomes confusing especially to a child when they are seeing and hearing different things from people that they love, admire and adore. {{{{hugs}}}}

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  4. Here’s the key issue, Bethy.

    One of the most important factors when raising a child is to make sure that a child grows up the proper values. It’s important they have developed an intelligent sense of morals, ethics, a proper respect for others, and respect for themselves. Though it can be difficult, there are times like this when the job of a parent is to step in and reinforce these values if it appears the child is having trouble developing them on their own – or perhaps developing ideas which aren’t what is best for them, either today nor in the long run.

    There are many things we don’t allow our children to decide for themselves. At a very early age, we teach them that stealing candy from the grocery store is wrong. We hope that by the time they grow up, they’ll not be prone to shoplifting… but if along the way we notice they tend to steal candy, we dont leave it to them to “work it out on their own”.

    We do our best to make sure our children don’t grow up to be bigots. When we hear them use slurs against other people, we immediately correct them. There are some values we hold that we “force” upon our children, and this is sometimes a good thing. A nine-year old child has no conception of the big picture, nor a lifetime of experience to draw from. As parents, we know what is right and what isn’t – and unless we teach our children these things, we run an unacceptable risk of a child “deciding on their own” that stealing and racism is ok. IE, it’s ok with the parent, because the parent didn’t complain. It’s ok with their peers, because their peers were also racists and thieves.

    Except that it isn’t ok. Sometimes their peers are wrong.

    When we see children having difficulty deciding who is right – we have to take a step forward and say, “I know what is right, and you must learn this now.”

    Such as it is with religion.

    Beth, you have a good understanding of the good things that religion can offer, and some of the damaging lessons that can be found as well.

    If your children are having difficulty finding the truths about faith and religion, it’s absolutely your right and prerogative as their mother to teach them what is right, and what isnt – based upon your own experiences with faith, religion, and church. Teach your daughters about the good things, and teach them about the things that aren’t so good.

    If you don’t – who will?

    These days are difficult, I know…. but just as you’ve been able to work through difficult moments with religion in the past and stepped into a place of more peace with God and yourself – you’ll be able to do it again, with your daughters.

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