Teen wore a bow tie for his Confirmation.
He chose to participate in Confirmation, a five-month process for high school students during which they met monthly with their leader and peers for teaching/study and with a one-to-one adult mentor to discuss life and faith. At the end they publicly professed their faith in Jesus Christ through a written and presented personal statement of faith, received baptism if they hadn’t previously, and became full members of the church. And then were honored with a celebratory meal and a verbal blessing from their parents while a packed Fellowship Hall watched.
We were thrilled he wanted to participate, although we didn’t push it. We even suggested he wait a year. He chose to forge ahead.
And then he chose to wear not just a shirt and tie but a three-piece suit + bow tie!
He didn’t have anything nicer than a shirt and tie so Guy took him shopping the night before. Then he showered and, wearing only his boxer shorts, he carried every piece of nice clothing from his closet to my bed. While I watched he tried different combinations before settling on the fanciest. He felt good. He looked good. He couldn’t suppress the satisfied smirk on his face as he examined himself in the full-length mirror.
Meanwhile I wavered between incredulous laughter and teary eyes. What happened to my Little Elf? Who is this Gorgeous Giant in fine clothing?
We have never made a big deal about our kids being pastor’s kids. A parent’s occupation certainly influences family life, but why should pastor’s kids in particular feel pressure to define themselves by or against parental occupation? Why has the church allowed this stigmatization of pastor’s families?
Thankfully Tween doesn’t feel that pressure, though Teen always has.
He literally crawled under pews to avoid the burn of judgmental laser beam stares his Pastor’s Kid Radar told him were aimed his direction, which of course backfired and drew even more negative attention. As he read from his faith statement during the worship service, “Every week I either impressed my Sunday school teachers with my knowledge on God or annoyed them to the point that they emailed my parents about my bad behavior. I was a wild child.” That bit of stinging truth got a hearty congregational laugh.
He was a good-hearted wild child, but yes, he was wild.
Still is, sometimes. He’s not perfect, as none of us are. He is impulsive, energetic, passionate, and sometimes takes sharp turns into the wrong lane.
But still, look at him up there on the chancel, that dressed-up good-looking young man, owning his faith as his own, no longer hiding under pews but standing up for Jesus because Jesus first stood up for him. Watch out, world, as Jesus starts to do His work through that impulsive, energetic, passionate child of His!
As each confirmant’s name was called, as they walked across the chancel to receive their new Bible with gold-trimmed pages and red letters, the pastor said, “Welcome!”
Twenty-five confirmants. Twenty-five welcomes.
Regardless of Teen’s behavior, and sometimes despite the consequential pain and conflict we managed as a family and as a church family, Teen has been welcomed.
Isn’t that the church’s job? To welcome in the name of Jesus not just those who sit quietly and behave properly in the pew but also those who don’t? Those who wiggle, or better yet dance, because they can’t sit still. Those who talk during prayer. Those who don’t feel like they’re good enough or deserve to belong. Those who act like they don’t want to be there, because maybe they truly don’t. Yes, all of them.
Jesus calls us to love, not just the one anothers we like, but the world for which He died. Every person He created and called by name. No matter how unruly or annoying they might be. No matter how inconvenient loving them might be.
I am grateful that Teen was given a fresh start each time he showed up. That for every person who wrote him off, enough others cared about him and hung in there with him so that he kept coming. So that as a high school kid, Confirmation felt like his next logical step, not one coerced by zealous parents but a choice he made willingly for his life and his faith.
Thank you, Church, for welcoming a wild child in bow tie.