At first I thought it was because we had always attended church. Then I thought it was because we had home schooled our children. And then we had found the perfect church, where the real meat of the Word was taught, and fathers were required to lead their wives and children in daily family worship.
But then things started to fall apart. The pastor and elders all had children who not only took a wrong path in life, but actually turned their backs on the Lord. They were soon followed in their unwise ways by other youth in the church.
The question burned in the back of my mind. My oldest daughter and I were on our way home from a baby shower when I turned to her and asked...
"So what do you think is the reason why none of you kids have ever given your dad and me any real grief when you were going through your teens? Why have you all stayed the course, and continued to walk with the Lord? Why do all of you, even now that you're grown, like to spend time with Mom and Dad and your brothers and sisters?"
She was silent for a moment, then said, "I think it's because we never had the money to buy all the things the other kids were clamoring for. We knew we couldn't have certain things, and didn't even think of asking. We entertained ourselves with the books, videos and games we had at home, and found all the company we wanted within our own family. Perhaps most important, for me at least, is that I knew you and Dad had a solid relationship that could never be broken because you were totally committed to one another."
Her answer surprised me. I thought of the years when our children were small, and how difficult it was to keep all seven in decent clothes and shoes. Snowsuits and warm winter boots were always a challenge. We had subsisted on oatmeal, milk, bread, potatoes and hamburger. When our fourth baby arrived she had to wear thin, worn diapers for four months, before I could scrape together twelve dollars to buy a dozen plain flannelette diapers.
I recalled scenes from my own childhood.
Ridicule at the town swimming pool because my bathing suit sagged halfway to my knees and almost didn't cover my chest properly. Couldn't we just once buy one from the clothing store downtown?
Mom insisting that I wear a purple plaid skirt with the new matching blue plaid turtleneck and tights my aunt had given me for Christmas. I longed for the dainty white blouses and neat grey skirts or maple leaf tartan kilts worn by the other girls at school.
I knew my parents were doing their best, but I never quite came to terms with the kids at school mocking me for looking shabby. I hated the fact that my husband and I could not do a lot better for our own children.
And now my grown daughter was telling me the lack of money was the very reason my children had stayed on the straight and narrow path while so many of their friends at church had not. Was it possible that my greatest bane had been my greatest blessing?
My heart was humbled and I thanked the Lord for all He had given me.
"Don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' ... Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." ~ Matthew 6:31, 33 NLT
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