As a mom, I'm constantly having conversations with my kids about their behavior and actions and how it all stems from their heart. When I pray for my kids, it usually has something to do with God changing or softening their hearts that have become hardened in some way or the other.
With my oldest soon graduating and heading to college, we've been having lots of discussions about wearing a "Christian Mask" and the dangers that come with that. Unfortunately I have lots of personal experience with wearing the "Christian Mask".
I grew up in a loving Christian home. I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I even went to a Christian school. I obeyed my parents, for the most part. I respected my elders and I never got into any real trouble. I knew how to follow the checklist of being a Christian but I didn't have a solid faith that was my own. I did what pleased those around me.
Being a good Christian girl made my parents happy and my teachers happy and so that made me happy. Now of course I wasn't a fan of my parents strict rules but I followed them because I didn't want them to be unhappy with me.
Many of the churches that we attended growing up were very legalistic. Christianity was a list of rules to follow. Don't wear pants. Only listen to hymns. No drums or bass guitar in church. No dancing. No movies. No leaving church during a sermon to go to the bathroom. No leaving during a sermon to go take care of your screaming baby brother in the nursery. (Those last two actually happened to me when I was about 9 years old and I remember the details like it was yesterday) Be sure to read your Bible for 10 minutes every morning. Pray before every meal. I could go on and on.
I didn't see it as a wonderful, joyful, passionate relationship with a Savior. I saw it as a way to make people like me. So when I went on to a Christian college, I met lots of others who were wearing their own masks. Here we were...a couple thousand teenagers away from home living with our new best friends. We had a curfew but beyond that we had the freedom to spend our days however we chose!! We could go to class or not. We could eat breakfast for dinner or dessert for lunch. There were very few rules and for me, following those few rules was quite easy.
I coasted through my freshman year. Went to church on campus on Sunday mornings, went to class, hung out with my friends, worked and went to some amazing Christian concerts. My mask was well intact and it stayed that way until my junior year of college. That year I questioned all the rules and then threw them out the window. I was determined to take advantage of my freedom to do my own thing and find my own way. I only wore my mask when I was around a few specific people like my parents and some college friends who truly loved God and desired to serve him.
Over the next 3 years, I partied a lot. I drank a lot. Went to clubs. I was involved in several physical relationships that led to me giving away my virginity and ultimately getting pregnant. How did the good Christian girl make so many wrong choices? I mean she was in a Christian bubble her whole life and she was even at a Christian college.
I'll tell you why....I never made my faith my own. I just piggybacked off of my parent's faith. I didn't passionately surrender my life to Christ. I didn't immerse myself in the study of God's Word. I played the "Christian" game. I made sure that all of my outward actions looked Christian enough. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I left for college and I could be on my own. I figured I could get serious about my faith while I was in college. But what I found was that there were so many teenagers just like me. So many that had spent years just going through the motions of the Christian life.
We were like houses built on the sand or like trees with no roots. We were easily swayed and knocked down. We did not have the tools to withstand the temptations. We had no clue why we believed what we said we believed.
My reason for sharing this is that I want every Christian teenager to take a real hard look at their heart. What does it look like? Is it fully surrendered to God? Or do you just have a little Jesus in it to get by until you leave home?
Do you love the Word of God? Do you love reading and studying the Word of God? If you don't thirst for the Word of God then you need to find out why. If you don't have an aching desire to draw closer to God then you're going to be easily pulled away from Him.
What about your boyfriend/girlfriend relationships? Do you both put God first before the relationship? Do you obey the Christian rule of "No Sex" but think that anything else is okay? That's a dangerous place to be. You're playing with fire and you will get burned.
As parents, we have no guarantees that our children will stand strong in their faith when they leave our homes. But I can guarantee you that it will be much more difficult for them if they don't know what they believe and why they believe it before they leave your home. This world is twisted and cruel and dangerous. It is ruled by the devil and he will devour them if they're not ready and prepared to withstand temptations.
I am a not perfect mom and I've made my share of mistakes. But the one thing that I am determined to do is to impress upon my children the importance of having a strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship that impacts every part of their lives. Not just where they spend their Sundays and Wednesdays.
Make today the day that you take off the mask and get real about your relationship with Jesus.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.