A Spiritual B+


Image Credit: Rogue Cheerios

The third blog post feels a little like the third date: time to drop the diplomacy and reveal some neuroses.

So here’s the thing. There are tons of bloggers out there already sharing fabulous ideas on faith formation. I cruise their beautifully photographed projects on Pinterest. I read their heartfelt prose. And I admire their conviction, even as I wonder… how do they approach religious family life with such creativity, patience, and certitude?

My emotions in this particular area tend more towards guilt, anxiety, and confusion. Part of that has to deal with my goals, which I plan to blog about extensively later (lucky you). But part of that also has to do with my fundamental makeup, and our collective human tendency to imagine God in terms we can personally understand.

Anne Lamott¬†first introduced me to this idea in Bird by Bird.¬†She wrote of her priest friend Tom advising, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

Well, hate’s not really my thing. I’ve clearly got other issues. Namely, I imagine God as Cosmic AP Teacher: He has very high expectations and a lot of material to cover, so woe betide those of us skipping and/or half-assing an assignment here or there. We may just earn a spiritual B+… and yes, that’s tantamount to failure in my personal grade book of life.

A bit of background: the creeping crud hit us hard this week while I was trying to finish up holiday prep. (Note to my children: this may be the season of giving, but nobody wants pink eye or a viral cough. Stop sharing.) And at church, we’ve been prepping for the Christmas pageant.

Now, a sane person would reflect on these events with gratitude that her family’s health is on the mend, and joy that her kids have such a wonderful opportunity to experience and share the story of Jesus’ birth.

Unfortunately, I am not that person. The family-wide flu, apparently, doesn’t bring enough suffering. I also have to berate myself that I’m not doing more to make this a magical, meaningful Christmas season.

I’m a little bit better about the church pageant. At the very least, I can laugh as Big Sister dithers over her costume choices and Little Bro drags the baby Jesus doll throughout the entire sanctuary.

But there’s another small (okay, medium) part of me that protests this deviation from the norm. I long for our lectionary-based Sunday School curriculum. I want to shriek, “There are assigned readings and handouts to be done, people!”

You may be wondering what this has to do with my kids’ faith formation. Nothing, really… except that they have a martinet mother who tends towards prioritizing process over product. It definitely impacts their lives. Also, I think I may be writing this blog for fellow neurotic perfectionists, so I might as well “out” myself now.

What aspects of your personality deeply affect your parenting style and/or spiritual practice?