Yeah, they won’t understand this but it is from the bottom of my heart and the depth of my gratitude.
My Dad (our family, coming home from church, when I was a child):
“I don’t think Pastor X understood that text.....” (Taught me not to believe whatever anyone said no matter what his title.)
“The Bible never says we actually have to go to CHURCH on Sabbath.... only rest.” (Taught me to analyze what the Bible actually says compared to additions people incorporate into it.)
“Why did they read Ellen White from the pulpit, she isn’t equal to the Bible, there’s a debate as to whether she is a prophetess or not?” (Taught me that some points are debatable no matter what your seventh-grade Bible teacher says.)
In addition to teaching me, “honey, don’t be spoonfed--use your brain--think about what they say and don’t swallow anything anyone says” my father drilled us with the idea of a very merciful, loving God who judges us on faith with His Grace. But my father not only taught us that with words but with his life and actions. He was merciful, He was loving, He was faithful... so I could easily believe in a God that was too. In fact, I almost am a universalist because I cannot see my father ever, ever rejecting anyone because he is so generous and kind and merciful a person. So I have a hard time not extending that same characteristic to my heavenly father.
So when I began reading the Bible and “thinking for myself,” I found that, if I was honest about what I read and was the child my father brought me up to be, I would have to reject his denomination. It was hard to break his heart, but to turn from what he taught me, how he lovingly spent his life as my dad, would be the greater heartbreak for us both. I always attributed my grit, my stubborn, relentless standing for truth no matter what the consequences and sacrifices, to my father.
But as I get older and really think back, my mother--to her everlasting annoyance and embarrassment-- should get a lot of blame too for my never-giving-in until you get to the bottom of what is really, truly true.
My Mother coming home from church:
(six kids all roaming around in a pre-child-seat-belt-law age, fighting noisily,)
“Mother! Heidi bit me, Heidi bit me!” So James takes his fist and rams it into the side of Heidi’s head. Heidi screams until my mother calms everything down--and spanks James for hitting Heidi.
“Heidi! Why did you hit James?” And my mother’s tenacity to get to the truth of what happened would commence. She would interrogate all parties thoroughly, exhaustingly--listening intently and analyzing every word and gesture for information. When most people would throw their hand up and just tell their kids to shut up and give their poor parents some peace, my mother’s Sherlock Holmes detective work would just kick in. She was thorough, excruciatingly thorough in her quest to find out what exactly happened and why and then administer fair, impartial justice. “I’m sorries MUST be said and healing must occur within the family and no one, NO ONE was going to get away with anything while she was mom.
It would be like a tennis match in our car--James would say Heidi stepped on his toe and then took his Little Friend he got in Sabbath school. (I would sympathize with James and think Heidi needed to get it.) Then Heidi said no that James left his Little Friend on the pew, and she stepped on his toe because he threw himself in front of her to get to the car seat he wanted first. (WOW! Heidi, poor Heidi! My twelve-year-old brain would switch sides with each sentence.) Mother would listen and listen all the way home to this.....
What I learned is that both sides of all stories need to be thoroughly researched and sympathies can swing, depending on who is telling their side, so don’t make a quick judgement. What you have heard for years can completely be rejected in an “ahah!” moment when you discover another side. Propaganda is passed on in all levels of life, so research diligently.
Thanks Dad and Mother! I know you look back and are confused at how your lessons of love of truth, of then standing for truth no matter if the heaven’s fall, has turned on you when your beloved children rejected Adventism. I do well understand your grief for I have grown children too. But I sincerely thank you, bless you and know someday that you will feel God's blessing too. The failure you feel now will one day be opened up as the biggest reward for a life well lived. Your children love the Lord and for that you can be proud you taught us the essence of what was important.