Identity Crisis

As most of you know, our kids attended Lutheran school for the 2 years prior to this one. When they were there, they always felt a little on the outside because most of the students were Lutheran. Of course, the school was run by Lutherans, too. So they always felt their “differentness.”

This year, our children are attending a more broadly evangelical school. I was told by the principal that 25 denominations are represented in the student body, including Roman Catholic. So I felt that there would be enough overall “differentness” that our kids would not feel, well, different.

Well, let’s just say that they still don’t feel like they “fit in.” My oldest son has been peppered with questions about his eschatalogical views because he didn’t agree with everything everyone in his Bible class was saying. My daughter had a lesson about giving her testimony in her Bible class, and she told her teacher she became a Christian when she was baptized. Needless to say, they have drawn some attention to their differentness without meaning to. I have been answering lots of questions about what do Baptists believe? How are we different from Lutherans? I’ll be the first to tell you that answering these questions at a level understandable to elementary school children is not easy.

Through all this, I have tried to impress upon my children the need to focus on the things we share in common with these other Christians. But I certainly understand the uneasiness the kids feel because they seem so different.

The ideas from this blog post from Mark express where my heart is. I would love to come up with a way to share this concept with our children’s teachers without offending them or causing them to think we aren’t believers.

Just thinking out loud . . .

5 thoughts on “Identity Crisis”

  1. You know, Jenn, I think so many of us grew up only among our “own kind” and didn’t fellowship outside our own, safe, tight circles. This whole “catholicity” thing is new and hard to figure out…especially when much of the evangelical world share common beliefs which makes US (or our children) the odd-men-out.

    Our school is quite diverse as well, but even though the student body is broadly evangelical, our teaching staff is largely Reformed in doctrine. This means we do less “un-teaching” or re-explaining than the other parents in the school!

    Of course, what we all desire is unity in the body…but without sacrificing what we believe. By the grace of God experiences like this will place our children, as adults, ahead of where we are in living as a unified body of Christ. What a great opportunity for us and them…tiring as it may be.

  2. Lori,

    Yeah. I agree with you. Each generation experiences different challenges as the Church changes and grows. Generally, we’re very happy with the school, and we hope the children can remain there long enough to feel settled. The mom in me just wants to protect them from feeling left out or different.

    Your point about “unteaching” is good. Yes. That is what we are doing much of the time when it comes to theology issues brought up at school. But the more I think of it, I guess I have to see those conversations as opportunities to reconfirm what we have been teaching them all along.

    Thanks for your thoughts. They helped me get further down the line in my own processing of this.

  3. Remember when we thought the newborn stage was so hard? It was truly exhausting, but I find that the wisdom I’m called on now to daily dispense is just mind-boggling! We talk a lot about worldviews around here and how what you believe influences what you do and everything else in your life. We’ve had a few talks about denominational distinctions and why we believe what we do, while at the same time being gracious to brothers and sisters in the Lord – those who believe in the essentials of the Christian faith. I want them to know it’s okay to have convictions; I also want them to know we can love and fellowship (even debate, when appropriate) those whose convictions differ. Tough stuff.

    As for feeling left out… it’s hard to protect them from that – just remind them that they are “big shots” in their own family and friends of Jesus. I felt left out most of my childhood – but I always felt safe and important at home. The result: my overall memories of childhood are very good and I developed a sensitivity to those who might feel left out, too.

  4. Jennifer,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I really appreciate your comment about how you always felt safe and important at home. My prayer for my kids is that regardless of how people treat them, they will always get their identity and confidence from Christ and will know that they are loved and valued at home.

  5. Wow. I have felt the same way, but our situation is a tad different than yours, b/c our kids go to the local public school. My 2nd grader has just become friends with a Mormon. Which is not bad, but having to explain the differences there…well, you can imagine. The nice thing is that both my daughter and her friend have been able to openly discuss their religious differences and they remain good friends (Susanna sharing the gospel at 7 years old–personally, I love it). Now, that’s different from your situation, but I’m commiserating with you a little.

    I’m enjoying the previous comments, too. And I really like your last response. “…They will always get their identity and confidence from Christ…” Such a gospel centered truth. Thanks for sharing this!

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