On Sundays when I was growing up, it didn’t matter if we were facing imminent danger or in the throes of a natural disaster, we were going to church.
Literally, I can’t remember not hearing my mom’s alarm clock go off every Sunday morning at 8:00am—because, of course, church was always preceded by a solid hour of Sunday School (bless those volunteers).
My parents could have had World War III with each other on Saturday night. I could have had the measles. My brother could have gotten kidnapped. There was never any question . . .
IT WAS SUNDAY AND WE WERE GOING TO CHURCH.
I remember some Sundays thinking, If we could just stay home this ONE Sunday and watch cartoons and relax . . . But, nope. Sunday rules—it’s church-day.
My parents went through a pretty trying super awful divorce when I was in middle school. Dealing with their own grief and disappointment, they stopped going to church.
But we didn’t.
My three siblings and I continued in the robotic fashion of our youth, waking up and going to church every single Sunday. But… it was different then. We had huge, shame-shaped holes in our hearts. We needed church now—now, more than ever.
Guess what. We’re all still attending church. (So are my parents, but that’s a dramatic blog for another day.)
I don’t tell you this because I think church is the cure-all. Or because I think all people in church make perfect decisions. Or because I think going to church makes you a better Christian. But when I look back on my church-going years, there were always one or two people I was connected with that kept me (and my siblings) on-track.
Ms. Leigh Ann. Amy. Jeff. Robin. Elizabeth. My student ministry. My college group.
Where would I be without these relationships? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that having these voices speak truth to me during some of the darkest years of my life brought light and hope and the chance to be vulnerable. I needed them. I needed someone other than my parents. I needed to widen my circle of influence. And by attending services, youth group, and church outings, my starving soul got the nourishment it needed to avoid massive regret and heartache.
Fast forward some more.
I have two daughters. For most of their lives, I got up before the sun rose on Sunday mornings to help run a children’s ministry. A few years ago, I stepped down from my position to pursue full-time writing.
On Sundays, when that alarm starts blaring, I am 100 percent tempted to sleep in. To let my kids watch cartoons. To sit around the breakfast table and not rush out the door with half the family missing shoes and bows and Bibles.
But then I remember the 12-year-old Holly who needed to be buoyed by multiple relationships—relationships that ultimately kept her from drowning. I hope my kids never need mentorship nearly as much as that middle school version of me did. But I would be selfish to rob them of the richness found in being surrounded by wise and caring adults.
Whether it be a church group, a club leader, a teacher, or a hand-chosen mentor, our kids need other voices in their lives.
How are you widening the circle of influence in your child’s life? No, really. I’m curious. And beyond that, are you that voice for someone else?