You know Holiday Christians: they show up at Christmas, Easter, a few weddings and all the funerals.
Well, Holiday and a Half Christians show up at all the holidays, weddings and funerals, but they also go to church for at least half the year. They might sign up for a Bible Study (but only do half the lessons). They sign their Christmas cards with "blessings" and aren't afraid to tell people they'll pray for them. And they can quote a thing or two from the Bible: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" [Philippians 4:13] and the Lord's Prayer (which is also called the Our Father in Catholic lingo, which is kind of smart because that's the first words of the prayer so the title doubles as a prompt).
Anyway, I've always been a Holiday and a Half Christian. I still get confused whether we have debts or trespasses. While I've gone to the same church for the entire 39 years of my life, I have never taken communion because I don't know if it's against the law. (The law of the church. Are they laws? Rules? Policies? I don't know.) Since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease I can get by with saying gluten allergy, but really, I've never made Profession of Faith, which is what I think has to happen before you're allowed to take communion. In the Catholic Church you turn seven and wear a wedding dress. If you're Lutheran you wait until 8th grade Confirmation. In our church there is no set age. It's when you feel it... when you know.
Another thing that might surprise you is that none of my children are baptized. Nope, not even Avery, my God Girl.
Want to know why? Because I didn't really know about it. I mean, I did. I knew it existed. But I saw it as this thing parents did to get more presents for their kids. All the baptisms I was ever invited to were by people I was, quite frankly, shocked that they even knew what a church was. They bought fancy clothes, took pictures, and then we went and ate an expensive catered meal and handed over obligatory stuffed lambs and cash. From my point of view I had already handed over a Baby Shower Gift, then a The Baby Was Born Gift, and I'll be required to contribute to the Baby Is One Year Old Gift... and now they were trying to get another gift?
Simply put, I didn't fully understand what baptism meant or why it was important other than to symbolically wash away sins (which is strange to me because I don't view most babies as being covered in sin. I do, however, have a list of really mean adults that could use a good cleansing.)
But - and this might anger a lot of religious zealots - I don't think it really mattered.
See, Avery LOVED HER GOD!! Loved God, understood God, lived God and respected God. She spoke God's Word, committed her life to Him, and wanted nothing less than for everyone on the planet to know who God was. She would tell me that if people just knew God they would know how much He loved them and they would never feel alone or afraid. She wanted everyone to be kind and respectful with each other because that's just how it's supposed to be. God said so. And she wanted everyone to learn about God in school (specifically, her school).
She did all this never realizing she hadn't been baptized. Do I think God reached His hand out to her on the night of October 24, 2012, and then quickly snatched it back saying, "sorry, can't take you; you weren't baptised." No. Not at all.
I think God loved that little girl with all His heart. And I believe that God specifically and perfectly picked her soul to be loaned to my mothering arms, into our family and into our community, to remind us what it's like to live for God. See, God knew every hair on that little girl's head. He knew her fears and her strengths. He knew how she would spend her days and what her trials would be. And he knew that she would be placed in a family that wouldn't have thought to have her baptized. He knew that she would embrace His love and loudly proclaim His blessings to the world. He knew that His earthly plan for her would only take eleven years, and He knew the when and how and WHY she would be brought Home to Heaven on October 24, 2012.
Not being baptized, that was my decision (or lack thereof, since I really only remembered she wasn't baptised just today) - not Avery's. And God knows my heart, too, and actually understands better than I the things I do.
I know that Avery's heart was right with the Lord. Without a doubt, without question. I keep thinking how much comfort that has brought me... immeasurable amounts. So many people have looked at me and have asked, "how can you be so strong?" I guess it's because I know without a question where she is. I know she is safe and in the best hands possible. Much like when parents are way more relaxed on vacation knowing kids at Grandma's house rather than with the lady that was recommended by the butcher at the local grocery.
I have thought about what would have happened if Jadrian hadn't survived the accident. (Morbid, I know, but trust me when I say I've never had much control over my thoughts, and right now it's a free for all.) I honestly don't think I'd be handling it as well. Jadrian is a Holiday Christian. I'd be on my hands and knees begging God to please, please just show me she was with Him.
That got me thinking about my siblings. I know how my sister feels about God. Her heart is right. But my brothers? Do they believe? I'm pretty sure the one does. But the other? And to what extent? My Mom is faithful.... and my Dad believes in God, but struggles with man-run religion.
And Matt? Matt never thought about God much. He grew up Catholic but couldn't tell me a thing he learned. He hadn't been to church since high school. With Avery in our home, religion has come up a lot in our relationship. I wanted someone who supported our family's religion. He figured not getting in our way while we were getting ready for church was being supportive enough. When Avery would get upset that Matt wasn't participating, he would explain that he was "covered" because he had baptised and confirmed. But was he really?
And then, what about me? Is my heart considered right with the Lord?
Here's what I do know: if I'm asking, then I have some work to do.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.