It was a beautiful late summer day today. The sun was shining, 78 degrees. So I overcame the inertia of sitting on the couch watching football and went for a walk.
I almost can’t help but think of my children when I go for a walk. My preferred path is around the lake near the elementary school they both attended (called, appropriately enough, Lakeview). It is a beautiful setting, with lots of trees, swans, geese and ducks, but it also is next to the playground where I would take them to play when they were small. A little further around the bend are the tennis courts where my son and I would often play together. So as I walked, basking in the sunshine and wearing the Utah State tshirt I bought when I dropped my son off at Logan two years ago, my thoughts turned to my children.
There were six children in my own family; of those, only two are active (myself and my oldest sister). I always kind of wondered what my parents thought about having children that were not interested in the Church. Now I have a little bit of insight into that, because neither of my two children (a daughter about to turn 26 and a son about to turn 21) is active in the Church.
This was hard for me at first. When I saw it starting to happen with my daughter, while she was still in high school and living at home, my first instinct was to fight it. My first instinct was to force her to go to seminary and church. But then I reflected on my sister just older than I am. She didn’t want to be involved in Church, my parents compelled her activity, and as soon as she went away to college she dropped out completely. I didn’t want my daughter to have hard feelings about the Church, even if she ceased to be engaged in it, so I took my foot off the gas and gave her some space.
When it was clear the Church wasn’t cutting it for them, I actually took them (in separate years) to Sunstone in the hope that this might kindle at least some continued nontraditional engagement with the faith. My daughter still gets a subscription to the magazine I gave her. Although it didn’t make a difference, they did appreciate the experience and honor and respect my own involvement.
You never know what the future holds, and with possible marriage (substantially) down the line or children, it is possible that one or both could re-engage. But as of right now there is no sign of that happening.
The main thing I wish to express is that I am actually ok with their being inactive. It doesn’t bother me anymore, and hasn’t for some time. They are great kids; intelligent, kind, funny, just great human beings, the kind of people you would want to have as a friend. I am immensely proud of both of them. And as I’ve gotten older (I just turned 49), those are the things that matter most to me. Sure, it would be nice if they were involved in the Church, but that would just be the gravy. I find that I care much, much more about what kind of people they are. And they have turned out great. I could not possibly love them more.