Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Countdown to 30: My parents, my childhood, and the closest I came to rebelling

{I'm doing a series of answering peoples' questions about me and my life as I count down to my 30th birthday. If you have something you'd like to ask me--anything!--please leave a comment or send me an email. It's not everyday I open myself up to answering any and all random questions, so ask away!}

what did you love most about your parents growing up? How did they shape who you are today with the way that they raised you? And what did you pick up along the way that did not come from them? Okay, that's 3 questions! But hey, I want the juice! Ooh, I thought of one more: did you ever go through a rebellious phase? If so, how long did it last and what brought you out of it? If not, wanna go clubbing with me and get it out of your system? HA! Just kidding!

Today's question comes from my sweet friend Candice, who I've gotten to know through church. As you can see, she asks some good ones!

Me with my parents in 2007

I am an only child (I know, right?) and grew up in the itty-bitty town of Creston, California. My dad was an elementary school teacher and my mom was an at-home mom. Our family of three was very close--we did everything together and my childhood was quite happy. Some people assume that children who grow up without siblings must be lonely, but I was not. I've always been independent and able to entertain myself, both qualities that I am glad to have been able to develop.

My best friend Rebekah and I at our high school graduation, Atascadero High School, Class of 1999

Plus, my parents were always quite supportive of my friendships and so I've always had dear, wonderful friends--many of them more like sisters. One in particular has been my BFF for 22 years. (Pictured above.)

It's hard to pinpoint what I loved/love most about my parents. They're wonderful people who provided a warm, loving home for me to grow up in. They gave me the gift of faith, a sense of humor, and an intact family life. My dad is funny, deeply caring, and ever-supportive. Always has been. My mom is a lot of fun, a great conversationalist, and makes me laugh really hard pretty much anytime we embark on some sort of adventure. They adore my children and my husband. They are two of my best friends.

As far as how they've shaped me, they taught me to love and obey Jesus, which is huge. We attended (and were very involved in) church every single Sunday, and I learned that committing to a faith community is a crucial part of the Christian life. Some of my fondest memories, in fact, are of church events--potlucks and Christmas Eve services and 4th of July campouts.

My dad was passionate about advocating for the developmentally delayed and differently-abled. My parents would regularly visit fellow church members and friends who were hospitalized or in nursing homes.

We did a lot of laughing in our house, and our family was very laid-back and relationally-based, if that makes sense. We spent a lot of time at home--not running from activity to activity. My mom and dad gave me a love for good books and for reading. We lived pretty simply and were not always buying the latest, greatest things. My parents never, ever tried to fit in or keep up with the Joneses. My mom stayed home to raise me and this was a huge value for her--what an incredible gift and legacy. They taught (and modeled for) me that marriage is for life.

As for things I've picked up along the way that did not come from them, the most obvious would be the fact that I have five, soon to be seven, children, while they had one.

As an adult I love to travel--which we never did when I was a child, except for the once every one or two years when we'd go down to Orange County to visit family and go to Disneyland. (LOVE Disneyland!)

I'm horribly un-punctual as an adult, but growing up, we were ALways on time. Usually early, actually. I hated always being the first kid someplace and was always so embarrassed, heehee! (Now as an adult I wish I was more on-time like that, but sadly, I've pretty much given up. :) )

Me being baptized on Palm Sunday, 1989, 7 years old

Finally, when I was growing up, my family attended a small, casual, non-denominational community church, but for the past few years I have been researching historic Christianity, which will surely eventually culminate in my joining the Catholic Church. So, that's different. On the other hand, both of my parents were more or less raised Catholic and I remember my mom had this ornate (and, looking back, rather beautiful) painting in a gold frame stand (with doors on it) of the Blessed Virgin Mary--so maybe I somehow actually picked some of that up from them. (As a kid that little painting terrified me though, and I would purposely close the little doors! Ha!) My mom has always had a love, I think, for high church and for the Mass, and there are things my dad misses about the Catholic faith as well. (He also has some GREAT stories about growing up in a parochial school, as many in his generation do.)

Now, on to the really good stuff: did I ever go through a rebellious phase? :) I would have to say no, not really. In other words, I never rebelled by drinking too much, sleeping around or doing drugs. I did have a nasty, selfish adolescent attitude that surely made me not the easiest kid to raise. I wanted to do my own thing and be with my friends all the time and, as I'm sure is true for many teenagers, it was hard to walk the line between belonging to your family and achieving independence. I was excited to move out for college, but by the end of the year felt dreadfully homesick and somehow that time away cured me of my peer-oriented-ness and grouchy-towards-my-parents-ness.

As a high schooler I did begin, for the first time in my life, to have occasional doubts about the existence of God. The whole thing, the whole idea, just began to seem really...crazy. (Probably because it is!) Nearly impossible to believe. God seemed distant and I sometimes wondered if it was all just made-up. I wondered how my faith would look once I left for college. Still I went to church and believed, but I would often doubt.

As a college freshman I lived in the dorms at the public California university I attended. The girls living next door loved to party (and to deal drugs--but that's another story), and one Saturday shortly after we all moved in they told me they were going out that night, and invited me along. All afternoon I had this horrible, nagging feeling inside. I felt Jesus telling me in my heart that I had to choose. And that He loves me and that I can't live a divided life. That either He was real and I needed to live in light of that fact, or He wasn't real and in that case I could just walk away.

And suddenly, I just knew. I knew God was real. I have not doubted Him in that way since. (I've also since decided that doubt is incredibly normal, and can turn out to be a healthy thing in the end. More on that another time perhaps.)

Later, when one of the girls came by to say it was time to go, I told her that I wouldn't be going. I was a little embarrassed, but not particularly disappointed. (I've never been one to cave to peer pressure, thankfully.) I felt a renewed sense of love for Jesus, and I sensed more than ever His love for me.

Sweet Stacy and I, sophomore year of college

The next morning I got up early to go to church, and ran into someone else in the bathroom getting dressed up. "Are you rushing sorority?" I asked her (it was rush week.) "No, I'm going to church," she said. I felt as if God had given me such a sweet gift and--Stacy became a dear friend that I would live with, along with two other dear Christian girls, the following year. And, I realize it was just a typical college party, but it signified so much more for me.

My wonderful roommates sophomore year: Stacy, Paige, Lindsey, and me

I have to tell you that every time I walked to and from my dormroom that year and passed by the condom dispensers, everytime I got up Sunday morning only to be greeted by large amounts of vomit in the shower or toilet stalls from drunk residents (yes this happened every.single.week.), everytime I saw girls walking back to their dorm rooms in the morning laughing (or crying) about how they didn't know where their bras and underwear were after last night's party, I was reminded of God's amazing grace, faithfulness and mercy to me. He never gave up on me, even in spite of my ambivalence.

And I have always had friends living a different lifestyle from me. I love and respect them dearly. Differences in religion or ways of living never mattered to the friendships, and I'm under no misapprehensions that I'm better or smarter than anyone else. And I'm so grateful for that year in the dorms. I had a blast. But when a nervous college freshman read her pregnancy test in my room, breathing a sigh of relief when the results were negative because she had no clue which person, among many party hook-ups over the past month, would have been the father, I was inwardly grateful to God that He spared me from what I believed to be destructive decisions.

So that was the closest I got to being outright rebellious, and I'm so thankful it did not come to fruition. I have really had no desire since to go live what many would call the "good life", because I saw the other side of that life many times over that year: panicked young women and youthful mistakes, potentially bearing very grown-up and serious consequences.

Then of course I married my husband when I was but 20 years old, and some people say you shouldn't do that because you miss out on the carefree "fun" of your youth...but I knew I wasn't missing out. And that there's nothing fun about most of those things in the end.

I credit God's mercy, and the good foundation laid in both word and deed by my parents, for keeping me more or less on the straight and narrow. And now you all know that I'm a pretty boring person, but I kind of really like my boring life. :)

Oh and Candice, if you're up for going clubbing, I'm totally there. Just kidding! (Even though it would be incredibly entertaining--can you imagine?!)

Thanks for asking!


Blog Template by YummyLolly.com