Around the age of 12 our children start thinking for themselves saying things like “I don’t want to go to church”, and “Why do we have to go to church?” When around 1910, Pope Pius 10 did not do us a favour by making weekly church attendance compulsory. Children and adults need to form a love for God and a desire to engage with God’s community freely. But at a young adult, they may not have the emotional or spiritual maturity to do so. Mixed into this we, have a western culture which prioritises the individual. Where all pain seems bad. Where do things against the flow of our culture seems not right.
We need to learn to form our own consciences. Through our choices and actions. As parents, uncles, and adults we must share with them our wisdom. Our lived experience. But, not just once, but through an ongoing dialogue which encourages questions and does not shut down the conversations with fixed answers. Parents should not say “Just Because!” Rather a create safe environments for mutual conversation which inspires more questions from our children.
When our children say “I don’t want to go to church!” this is an opportunity to lead them through the desert of what looks bad or from an individual perspective may seem difficult. Not from afar. But together walking with them. Recently, our son has begun a medication which requires him to take injections each day. He cries a lot. He screams a lot. He resists a lot. “Please mummy” “Please daddy…..I don’t want to do this”. It is hard. We must sit with him. We must be with him. If it takes 1 hour of resisting each day. As loving parents, aunty’s or loved one’s we most especially need to sit with our children where things seems seem difficult. They may not have the emotional maturity to take the medication. They need guidance to get them through.
Together we can get through this. We can get through the deserts of our lives. For the Jewish people it took 40 years to walk through the desert. For the Jewish people they learnt how to survive in the desert. The desert became a pathway to a deeper reality. The desert became the way of who they were becoming.
So then next time, you hear “I don’t want to”….Will you take the “Road Less Travelled”? Will you go into the desert of your lives?