BY BETH MONTGOMERY, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING FOR CHILDREN'S MINISTRIES
I sat in my Rooted Group on the first week and admitted, I had never been baptized as an adult. Naturally, the next question was why. What is stopping me? Well, that’s a quite a long story…
Growing up, my Grandma would drag me to this small church close to our home. I would beg to go to the adult service with her. I’d sit in the pew and color, while listening to the Pastor.
Through the ears of a child, I heard many things I wasn’t supposed to do. It seemed their expectations were too high for me to ever reach. When I was a little older, I specifically remember sitting through a sermon on how what we listen to and watch said a lot about who we were inside. My mom and I always loved rock music and I was pretty sure I was going to hell for it.
My Grandma was all about her family. She made sure we were all together often, especially on holidays. When I was 16, my Grandma died in the worst way for her. She forgot us all. It was at that point that I was done. God couldn’t be our father if He could watch one of His dedicated children die slowly and painfully. A father could never do that. After that, I didn’t go back to that church.
When I was 21, I was told I could never have children. When I graduated college, I went into Pharmaceutical Market Research. I was climbing the corporate ladder and getting paid well for it. It was around this time that I also met my husband.
Scott married a workaholic atheist who could never have kids. That is the life he signed up for. Then we found out I was pregnant and everything changed.
I had always wanted to be a mom more than anything, so Scott moved heaven and earth for me to be a stay-at-home mom. By the time our second child was a few months old, I started to worry. If there was a God, I was failing Him, but I didn’t want to force my kids into the same fate. I wanted them to have more faith than me.
A friend of mine suggested Grace. I walked into that huge building and turned around to leave. I wanted a church my kids would love. Somewhere I’d never have to drag them. I wanted to have community. But, we’d be lost in this crowd. This was not what I wanted. It was that moment when a woman stopped me. She walked me to the Welcome Center, then walked me to drop the kids off in their classrooms, and then walked me into the auditorium. I guess she saw in my eyes that I’d run if she left me. She was right. I don’t know who she was, but I owe her so much.
I stood in that large auditorium as the Worship Team was on stage and they were playing rock music! This I understood. This I could do. The woman asked if I was okay now, then left me there.
I’m not someone who does things halfway. When I decide to do something, I throw myself into it completely, which is why I quickly started serving in Grace Kids, then joined the Event Childcare Team. But I still felt like a fake. I was there, doing what I was supposed to do, but I was doing it for my kids, not for God and I worried if I messed up, someone would know I was a fake.
I never did feel lost in the crowd at Grace. Through serving, it became small, and my kids loved going. They’d come home singing the worship songs, talking about the puppets or drama, and telling me everything they did. They still love it so much, they are there every Sunday morning with me at 7 AM helping set up, serve in multiple areas, and get pretty upset if they miss their small group.
My daughter was in Kindergarten when she hit me with one of those questions that as parents, we dread. The very question that I struggled with myself. The question that broke my faith – Why does God let bad things happen to good people? I put her on the bus, promising I’d talk with her about it when she got home, then I freaked. I couldn’t let this break her the way it broke me. I had to have the answer for her when she got home.
I sat at our kitchen table with my laptop and Bible all day. I read, and read, and read, but I couldn’t find anything. I was frantic. Then a verse on the very first page of my bible caught my eye and I just started writing. I wrote my daughter a letter. After I got done, I sat there, staring in shock. I didn’t just write that letter. I believed it. I’m not saying it was the correct answer, but it was an answer I could accept to a question I needed answered.
I got my daughter off the bus, I sat her down and started reading to her, when she interrupted, “Mom, what are you talking about? Can I have a snack?” She had completely forgotten. Her faith wasn’t broken. Then I realized, this wasn’t about her. It was about me.
At that moment something in me changed. I started following those pulls I so often felt, believing now they were God. Which is why I found myself raising my hand to volunteer to lead a student worship team without any musical talent or knowledge at all. It was the best decision I ever made.
This is when I should have been baptized, but I wasn’t. Why? Let’s rewind…
My husband married a workaholic atheist who could never have kids. That was the life he signed up for… but instead he got me, a stay-at-home mom who went church three days a week with our now three children.
While I bulldoze into things, Scott is often slowly moseying behind at his own pace. While he agreed he wanted our kids to go to church, that didn’t mean he was going to church. It was years before he started attending just to be with us. He didn’t believe, which is why it shocked me when he signed up to be my co-leader to lead that student worship team. It was another thing he did, not because he believed, but because he wanted to be with his family.
Every time he took a new step, like volunteering at Kids’ Camp, he’d stay on that step for years, before taking another. Each one shocked me because it wasn’t the man I married, but I loved this man so much more. I stood in shock in the audience at Kids’ Camp as he proudly danced and sang on stage. Then when I joined the Grace staff and could no longer lead our team, I was shocked when he announced that he’d lead it. And he does still to this day.
This is how our lives have been. I bulldoze into something and he slowly follows. You can even see me running around Grace with my kids, while he walks slowly behind. But, there have been times in our lives when I would look behind me and he wouldn’t be there. After searching, I’d finally find him sitting somewhere and he’d say, “Well, you guys took off without me.”
When it comes to something so important – our faith – I don’t want to leave my husband so far behind, he doesn’t feel like he can catch up. I work at a church. I love God. That was already way more than he signed up for already, so for some reason, I drew an arbitrary line at baptism. It was a public step. This is where I had to stop and wait for him to catch up. I couldn’t cross this line or he may be left so far behind, he may stop trying to catch up. So I sat at that line and waited, even while our two oldest were baptized.
Our third week of Rooted was focused on Prayer. It involved praying and listening to God for hours. When I pray, it is usually to the point and I usually don’t hear God at this time. Maybe that’s because I have never really slowed down. That week, I did. I sat and listened. It was an amazing feeling. I left with a list of things I had to do. One of them was talking with my husband. I told him this story. That’s when he said, “I didn’t marry who you were when we met. I married you, no matter who you become. I will follow you anywhere.”
I know it’s true. I know he’ll follow me at his own pace, in his own time, but he will always be right there behind me. So, here I go…
Also...my son decided to get baptized as well. What a day!