Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Unlikely Sunday School Teacher

I started teaching Sunday School intermittently about six years ago. This was a surprise to me. My background as a child of a secular home left me a lingering discomfort at the mention of any faith-based idea. In my mid-twenties when I experienced a prolonged bout of postpartum psychosis, my primary delusion involved my family being the reincarnated disciples of Christ. I couldn't figure out whether there had been twelve or fourteen disciples though, so I had trouble determining our "true" identities.

Twelve. There were twelve disciples.

So, teaching Sunday School was a bit of a challenge since I hadn't been going to church that long, was still working through my first ever cover-to-cover read of the Bible, and frequently felt like I wanted to run for the door during prayers, certain songs, and any moment that required me to hold someone's hand. But, yeah, I'll teach your children about faith.

It soon became apparent that K-5 Sunday School (where I started) is quite scripted. We began at creation and worked our way forward. My sporadic teaching schedule had me checking in at Joseph and his coat of many colors and lost sheep.

We crafted and I learned lessons with the kids. Sunday School for children was the foundation of my adult faith when I'd already achieved adulthood. By the time I got to Mark 10:15, "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it," I was fairly frightened that my chance at salvation was long gone.

It's hard to kick a deeply ingrained habit. I'm naturally skeptical and suspicious. To let Jesus into your heart is to let go of the countless objections that stand in the way of true belief. Little kids don't look for excuses not to believe. Their faith is relatively easy. I think this might be why it took me until after I had my daughter to come to Christ. I needed to learn from someone that really knows how to do it.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm teaching grades 6-12 every Sunday. The scripted lessons are gone, but when leading older kids I find that I only need to ask questions. We all come up with our own answers and I don't need to be a Bible scholar to get teenagers thinking about their faith.

We talk about loving our neighbors (even when they're SO annoying), what God wants from us, and whether it matters what we think. Our conversations serve as fodder for dinner table talk for the rest of the week in our house. I'm hopeful they do the same for the other kids as well.

Sunday School starts again next month. I'm a bit more prepared having read several different translations of the Bible cover-to-cover over the years. I don't have many answers for the questions that will surely be asked this fall. I will tell the kids, as I have so many times before, to put love into the world.

I hope you will do the same even if you've never been to Sunday School, even if prayer makes you uncomfortable, and even if "Jesus" is just something you exclaim when you're mad. Put love into the world and take comfort that it will eventually make a difference. I teach Sunday School. I think that's proof enough that anything is possible.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9