“Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.“
Born and raised…
I was born and raised in the church. There are many times I may jokingly say that I was ‘born on the altar’ but in a lot of ways I may as well have been. Raised by my bible-toting, revival running, Deaconess and Evangelist Grandmother there weren’t many days that we weren’t on our way to church, in church or on our way back from church. In fact, all of my major memories take place within the framework of a church scene. Even my Sweet 16 was in the backyard of the church after a choir rehearsal.
As a Teenager, I began to interact with others outside my church family and I started to realize the life I lived wasn’t the normal practice for other teenagers. Most other teenagers didn’t come home from school to head off to prayer on Monday nights, Bible Study on Tuesdays, Business Meetings on Wednesdays, Choir Rehearsals on Thursday and Devotional on Fridays. My friend’s Saturdays weren’t spent at the church prepping for whatever special service was going to be taking place at church the next day.
My friends were allowed to sleep in on Sunday mornings and enjoy a lazy day at home while I was already up and out the door by 8am on my way to Sunday School and a day full of morning worship. We would have an early dinner with my family then return to the church for whichever Guest Speaker was lined up for that evening. I know what your thinking…too much right? Yet it was all I knew. To me this was normal. To me it was just what we did.
This was my life…
As a child, you are taught the foundations of your morality. Those things you will build your beliefs on throughout the rest of your life and into adulthood. It was during early childhood that I learned what devotion, commitment and dedication were. Watching my Grandmother, I learned to always be a person of integrity and always honor my word. If my Grandmother said she would be somewhere, do something or help someone you could guarantee it was going to happen. To her, her word was the most important thing she could ever offer to someone and she never took it lightly when she did.
Earlier I described my Grandmother as a ‘bible-toting, revival running, deaconess and Evangelist’. She was all of these and then some. She still is. Back then it wasn’t very common for a woman to hold any of the positions she held yet she did and she held them with integrity, wisdom and an anointing that was truly from God. My grandmother is now nearly 80, but she is still just as faithful and dedicated (to the same church) as she was the nearly 35 years ago when I was born. Even now, you can find her in church nearly ever day of the week, on weekends and at her Pastor’s side whenever needed.
I remember riding with her as a child to different churches where she would be running Tent Revivals and week long services. We would drive 2-3 hours and she would get there and preach until she sweat through her clothes then get in the car, drive home and return to do it all over again the next night. This was my example. She was my living breathing example of a Woman of God. I had nothing but pride in being introduced as her granddaughter but with that honor came a weight of expectancy. When people saw me and knew who my Grandmother was they expected more of me. I was a ‘preacher’s kid’ (for those of you from the church I was a PK) and with that came a set of standards that though often unspoken was always implied.
Her path or mine…?
From the time I could speak, read and memorize my Grandmother had me active within the church. I was in every children’s program and presentation possible. I said every Easter, Christmas and Holiday Poem you could think of and did all of it with that big stamp of begin Her Grandaughter. It was as if her path in life was becoming mine as well. Slowly that pressure of being more than just a kid began to weigh on me. I was still a child yet I never felt like I was allowed to fully experience it. I felt as if people were simply counting down the days me to put on her robe or do a joint sermon with her.
Mind you my Grandmother herself never made me feel that way. Don’t get me wrong, she always told be that she believed God had something for me to do. That my life was anointed and I had a destined purpose within the Kingdom but she also believed I would find and come into that purpose in God’s time. She never made me feel that I had to be a mini her. Still within my child’s mind, I saw myself in her shadow and I was beginning to wonder if I wanted to be there or anywhere for that matter.
I began to wonder if I truly need to be in the church at all. Was this path she seemed to carve out for my life something I was truly meant to follow? It was now that I started to resent my foundations. I felt like somehow I was being kept from something more. Something better. Maybe there was more to life than the many services and church functions I went to? Did I want to follow in my Grandmother’s footsteps? Did I even have a calling of my own? If I did, did I want to answer it? No, not just yet…
Read Part 2…