The following is the fourteenth installment of the “Out of the Closet and Into the Pews” series. The series features members of The Reformation Project’s Inaugural Conference – a leadership conference for 50 straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians who are committed to reform.
Raise Them Left
by Amy Tincher (BEA guest writer)
I was a Speech Language Pathologist with a bright future. I was a sales woman with the earning potential of a millionaire. I was a Catholic daughter with a working relationship with a Diocesan Bishop. I saw success in every corner of my life. In my late 20’s, I must have blinked and there were two of the most gorgeous children before me. God gave them to ME? Yes, I realized THEY were my millions. They were my new clients. They were to become my focus for many years. I was called by God to a take this left turn in my life.
I don’t take lightly the responsibility that God has given me to raise two children. In fact, I take my responsibility so seriously that I continually leave my life open to God’s unique plan for us. Many times, my expectations have not matched the outcomes. I left my careers at His suggestion. Oh, I had it all figured out…read to them in utero. Take music classes as infants. Toddlers need gymnastics. Before you know it, they are on a bus to Kindergarten!
WAIT. WHAT, GOD? I am NOT one of “those” kinds of parents! Yes, God absolutely told me to homeschool my children. I already feel like I don’t fit in the culture around me. Now add this to my list of oddities? For those of you who can identify with this song, you know exactly how I feel.
Forgive me for what I am about to do…I abhor stereotyping, but the reality of my life (HERE, where I live) is this: The majority of homeschooling families in my circle homeschool with conservative theology. I am surrounded by users of religious curriculum. In my humble opinion, these parents are not theologians qualified to teach what they teach. It’s not necessarily truth. It’s whatever the curriculum developers want you to push onto your children. It’s a form of brainwashing. So, my initial reaction to God’s plan wasn’t pretty. I spent way too much time trying to prove that He was wrong about our future.
In my research, I came to the understanding that I COULD homeschool my children and, in an effort to avoid the Jonah-syndrome, I WOULD homeschool them. I consider our family a “secular homeschooling” family and I am reticent to use that term without qualifying that we are Believers. We do incorporate spirituality into our studies, but I deliberately seek curriculum that encourages thinkers and questioners and doesn’t serve my children a cafeteria tray filled with pre-made theology. I recognize, as a mother and teacher, that I am still evolving in my beliefs and learning along with my children.
Our Great Commission as Christians is to go forth and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20) and I believe in the tenets of missions, ministry, evangelism and baptism. However, I believe that most of us aren’t given the commission of changing large nations. Most of us are given lives we are meant to change right before our eyes. Are we missing the most important opportunities on a daily basis? My principle belief is that I focus on being Christ to one. And I am blessed that God brings them to me daily. If we are open to being His servants, he will use us, creatively and beautifully, every day.
As my children grow, I am affirmed that God is using me to mold and shape their lives. I have one chance to raise truth-seekers. If God never brought me another life to touch, I am honored to have the two I am given. I don’t keep them home from a brick-and-mortar school to shelter them. I don’t keep them home to force my religion on them. I don’t keep them home to enslave them to me. I keep them home to teach them in ways that make sense to their learning styles. I keep them home to teach them how to find information and to love learning. I keep them home to teach them relationships and communication skills. I keep them home to explore their own spirituality and to learn how to be Christ here on earth for anyone they meet. Because I know them best and I am submissive to God, I truly believe no one can teach them as well as I can.
So, about those careers and my former identity. Yes, I went through a period of darkness where I had no idea who I was anymore. Yes, I questioned God’s plan and purpose for me and I wondered if I had really heard Him. Heck, I still have days where I question, wonder, and doubt. On those days, I am quick to remind myself that my children are receiving the most loving and freeing education of them all. A mother’s love cannot be matched and an education that questions text books and seeks truth cannot be outdone. Our information-rich society will provide any academic knowledge that I lack.
One of the ways I am able to educate my children is by example. If nothing else, I want to show them what equality looks like. As a family, we shepherd the lost. We nurture the broken. This summer, God has taken my ability to lead by example a step further. I have been chosen to be a reformer with The Reformation Project. I am called as an ally to stand with my LGBT brothers and sisters to rid the Church of mistruths and homophobia. My children are witness to their mom studying the Bible, reading comparative works of theology and dialoguing with 49 other reformers. They are witness to the people who have appeared in my life because of this work and the opportunities God has provided for me to spread His love and truth. As they age, my kids will be able to recognize how activism in our culture is simply a way to live out His plan and carry out the Great Commission right here in our own backyards.
I am truly blessed and humbled in the life and responsibilities I am given. Oh sure, I fail. I sin. I say things I shouldn’t. And some days I wonder if I am screwing them up. But in the end, as I reach the pearly gates of Heaven, my only hope is that He will say “My child, you did exactly as I asked.”
Raise them right? No, thanks. I’ll raise them Left.
Amy Tincher, of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a homeschooling mother of two, photographer, assistant worship leader, and swim coach. She is a non-denominational Christ-follower currently attending and leading at New Vienna United Methodist Church. Amy has passion for people, love for life, and desire to win souls for Him. She believes in mentoring young people and she speaks against bullying and violence. She strives to give children the structure and vocabulary they need to use positive and affirming words while learning about diversity and inclusion. Amy is excited to be called by the Lord as a reformer for The Reformation Project and believes that change is possible when we heal the broken and shepherd the lost one life at time. 1 John 3 says, “Let’s not merely say we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” Amy’s deepest desire is to be the love of Christ for those in her firstname.lastname@example.org https://twitter.com/photomama0825 https://www.facebook.com/AmyTrpReformer