My childhood - Growing up (Part 2)

On Tuesday I wrote a blog about being married to an unbelieving husband - this is the story that got me to that point.   A few weeks ago I started to tell you a story of a young girl growing up in a small rural community in Australia, a girl with quite a different life to those around her — yes, this is my story.
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Then she became a grew up . . . and begun to wonder . . .

What was life like for all those other girls who didn’t have to wear a hat to Sundays, who could go to the movies, have boyfriends, wear the latest fashions.  As this little girl entered her teens it became quite apparent that her life and those around hers were very different.  She didn’t want to be different any more.  She didn’t want to stand out at school as the only one who wasn’t allow to attend the school ball or wear trendy clothes.  She didn’t want to have to tell her friends that she couldn't go out on Sundays. This was when the struggle really began.

For girls who grow up in strict conservative Christian home, shielded from all the evils of the world, it comes as a big shock to discover that they are ill-equipped to cope with the temptations of the world as they have never needed to face them.  This can start with simple choices — novels.  As a young girl, only nice Christian books were about, however access to school libraries allowed this teenager to suddenly discover the world of literature – good and bad. She consumed raunchy romance novels, one after the other — anything that had been forbidden was read, she would read late into the night, long after her parents were asleep so they never had a clue.  She became good at hiding the evidence.  Of course she knew this was wrong, she had been taught the Word of God her entire life, but the temptation was there and for once she was going to be like her friends.

Freedom wasn’t that far away.  Near the end of her schooling (and after watching her cousins go off and do their own thing) she finally could break free — she still attended Sunday meeting, wore her hat and did everything that a good daughter would do, but behind the scene things were changing.  Independences. She started to buy make-up, jazz up her wardrobe, go to a hairdresser for the first time (nothing too radical or noticeable) and even went out late at night with her friends.  Believe me, this was nothing wild, but it did ‘break the rules”, the ones that this young lady had been living for so long and no longer wanted to be bound by.

She got a job, loved her job — now she had an income and could make choices, her choices, not those of her parents, her grandparents.  She could have a boyfriend, she could watch TV, go to the movies and she did.  Did she make wise choices, no because she wasn’t thinking about anything wise or Godly, just being able to fly free. Not every child brought up like her goes a little wild, but some of us do — perhaps we are more rebellious, not willing to just accept, I am not sure why.  She fell in love with a non-Christian, completely unlike her family.  And, yes, she ran away and married.  Still married and no, he is still un-believing.  Life has its ups and downs, but as an adult with children of her own, the teaching of the scriptures never really disappeared – they came back strong and determined.  Her journey has taught her about faith, trust and love.

All I can say to any parent who was brought up in a secular environment but wanting to create a conservative strict Christian environment, wanting to shield their girls from the evils of the world  — please remember to find balance.  Do not ban everything, but teach your girls to make wise choices.  They may not at first make choices that you agree with but they will in time.  If they do pick up a book that is not Christian, remember they need to find out why it isn’t suitable.  When I read of mothers creating reading lists for their young adults I get very worried it can have quite the opposite effect - you may think you have a "good daughter" but in fact you may have one that is very restless but good at hiding her true feelings.  Bring them up with the scriptures but if they do want to “fly” for a bit, help them to cope with the world and not to completely isolate them from it — and most importantly how to become independent but remain a Christian.

I’ve been there and made some mistakes and I don’t want to see other young Christian girls to go through what I have.    If young girls have had a sound Christian up-bringing, they will return to it later in life, so do not despair if things do not go to plan. You cannot control your daughters (or sons) and their lives — what you can do is leave their lives in God’s hands (remember the story of the lost sheep) — he will be with them no matter what errors they make, they do need to make errors otherwise how else do they learn to TRUST in the Lord.  If life goes too smoothly then we often forget to have faith and trust in the Lord. Life's journey should have a few bumps along the way — perhaps mine had slightly too many — but they are my bumps and I will learn from them!
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  1. Thank you for sharing your story, I feel like I know you a little bit better now. (o:

    Many Blessings!

  2. Jo, thank you so much for sharing more of your life with us!
    It's natural to want to shield our kids isn't it? I am trying to find the balance here with my daughter.... It is really good for some one like me who grew up in a non-christian home to hear stories like yours. I really appreciated hearing your experience!

  3. Thank you for sharing more of your story with us Jo.

    I shielded my children alot, but not to the extreme of your upbringing. My daughter could read non-christian books, so long as they were wholesome. Because she was homeschooled, we were able to search out good reading lists via the Christian distance ed that we were registered with etc etc.

    Same with movies and dvd's, we were very fussy but movies, dvd's etc were not banned. I can imagine how making so many things 'taboo' creates a high level of curiosity in children when they are older.

    In saying that, my children have still gone astray, for reasons I have blogged about.

    To be honest, I don't think there are formulas in our parenting techniques, standards etc, that will guarantee our children will never leave the narrow path, even if for a season or two of their lives. It could be some are rebellious, or it could be that they never really had a intimate relationship with the Lord, or they simply just had to find out for themselves and decide which side of the fence is truly greener. Who knows why we do what we do, but He does and He forgives which is the most comforting thing of all.

    Being brought up with scriptures and a strict christian lifestyle will not save anyone... only the saving grace of God and His wooing, calling us, giving us His gift of repentence, does. At least the seeds of His word are planted during childhood. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit. We must have both Spirit and Truth.

    I am so glad you made your way back to Jesus. I believe all that you have gone through, will not be wasted. It keeps you depending on Him, and humble. I believe it also have created in you, a soft heart. Not rigid and self-righteous. It is good for the Kingdom to have citizens who have been through the trials and failings, and real-life experiences and heartbreaks. If it didn't those who have only ever lived broken and worldly lives wouldn't find us very understanding people at all.

    Bless you Jo...

  4. Your story is truly an inspiration. Your candid sharing of the ups and downs, choices you made, etc., has blessed me so much, as I have been recently wrestling with past choices I have made which had dire consequences and which haunt me still. How very true about our mistakes driving us into the arms of God. I so believe that God works through them for good (Rom. 8:28). You are clearly a strong, intelligent woman who reflects and learns from life, which is inspiring for your readers.

  5. You know how much I relate to you and your past/choices Jo... I think you are very brave to write about it on your blog! I'm not sure how much our upbringing accounts for the way we turn out and how much of it we would have done regardless - I often wonder about this myself. I don't think there is any one way we should say children are to be raised apart from the guidelines set out in God's Word. Every set of parents is so different (and accountable to God for the way they raise their children) and every child is different (and accountable to God for the paths and choices they make!) I guess the thing to keep in mind as we raise our children is that moderation is important, foundations truths are important, and most of all, making God a part of our lives - both as something we teach our children and something we LIVE in our daily lives - and not in a pious fashion. :) The Lord bless you.

  6. Thanks for your open sharing, Jo.

  7. ps. I meant to say in the my first comment, that I really liked this that you said:

    "Bring them up with the scriptures but if they do want to “fly” for a bit, help them to cope with the world and not to completely isolate them from it — and most importantly how to become independent but remain a Christian."

    I believe that is a major key. When a child grows up and enters the work force (or steps out of their front door), they need to know how to cope with the unsaved they will be surrounded by.

  8. Jo - You are so kind to share this story and to request understanding from others in that as parents they should remember to "strike" a balance". I have friends who have been where you were - and their stories are similar. Bless you for baring your soul and sharing this with us all.


  9. Hello Jo, what a wonderful blog you have and the pictures a divine. I have been having a wonderful journey through your post, thank you.

    It was lovely to read your story about the path you have walked and the encouragement to bring a balance to life, this is so very important. Thank you for opening up some of the pages in your life's journey.

  10. Though I'm not a parent, so I don't have the experience from that end, I must say that I think you are right on. My parents were very strict compared to many, but I'm also glad that they chose to raise me in the real world, and not the tempting Christian bubble, which would have been much easier. Going to public schools, and a very liberal public university actually brought me much closer to God. It taught me how to be in the world, but not of it. I am glad that I was ridiculed by my fellow students and some teachers, because it taught me to stand up for my faith. On the other hand, though, I can certainly understand why parents would choose not to do those things - but each of us must do what we believe is best, and what we believe to be God's way for us.

    I thank God that He gives us second chances, and never abandons us!


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