Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Confessions of a PK: Part 1

From Wikipedia: Preacher's kid (abbreviated as PK) is a term to refer to a child of a preacher, pastor, deacon, vicar, lay leader, minister or other similar church leader. Although the phrase can be used in a purely descriptive way, it may also used be as a stereotype.

My grandfather officiating a wedding
Technically speaking, my MOM is actually the Pastor's kid... her dad (my grandfather) has been in ministry as a pentecostal preacher/pastor (say THAT 5 times fast!)  since he was only 17 years old. Although my mom was raised in the church, when the time came for her to move out on her own she also went her own way for a while in terms of faith. My mom moved 3000 miles away to California to raise her family and while she taught us about the importance of God in our lives, I can't say that I ever felt or understood the magnitude this faith had in our family. My grandparents would come visit every summer and we'd have family worship services every Sunday while they were in town. I loved it! We would sing songs and my Grandpa would preach a sermon and I just loved my grandparents and everything about them. I thought my Grandfather was like.. one of God's favorite people or some kind of VIP or something. I remember thinking that if I just asked him to pray for something, it would come true. He was like magic! When the summer was over, they would get on a plane back to New York and life would continue... we'd go to church on special occasions, I'd say my prayers every night.. but nothing outside of that. Until the divorce...

When my parents called it quits on their marriage, my mom needed a way to support my brother and me on her own. I've written about my father before so needless to say, he was not very involved. I was 10 years old at the time and we moved to New York to live with my Grandparents. Immediately, we started going to church with them every Sunday (anyone under that roof, goes to church) and Mondays, and Tuesdays, and Fridays.... it was a full time gig. As a child, I loved being a part of the church. I began to really grow and realize certain talents that I had by being able to express them at church. I found a new sense of belonging and made so many lifelong friends. But my "church life" did not remain in that building... I was the Pastor's kid... it was in my everyday life, in my home, and eventually ingrained in me as a person.

My hubby and I at a Pastor appreciation service for my Grandpa

My Grandfather was the real deal. He was so passionate about his work for God and he really, truly, lived out everything that he preached. I'm not saying he didn't make mistakes but he was genuine and full of love for God and the people that he led. He kept a yellow notepad by the phone in the kitchen with the name and number of every single member of his congregation. He Pastored over 300 people (for a church in the south Bronx, that is a lot!) and every Sunday evening would grab that notepad and make phone calls to everyone who had missed service that day. He made all his calls from the kitchen and I'd hear him saying - "I missed you, can I pray for you, I hope to see you next week". He would pray every single morning in the living room of our house at 5am. I would sometimes sit down in the hallway when I couldn't sleep and listen to him pray... it was inspiring and heart warming the way he mentioned every single man, woman, and child by name.

I can't say that the Pentecostal religion was the path for my life, but I can say that a path of faith in Christ was and I know that it was my Grandfather who started me on this path. My experience being in a Pastoral family with a fundamentalist belief system was not always great. Many times I was made to feel judged, inadequate,  constantly watched and observed by others. Those pressures and negative experiences are something I know I need to work through, but today I will just tell you that my Grandfather represented NONE of those things. He was loving, he was inclusive, he was the first one to admit that he was flawed and imperfect and he truly LOVED people. He truly loved me and it is a love I feel even now that he has dementia and can no longer verbally express.

Hanging out Poolside at a family reunion. THIS is the side of him I will always hold close... the jokester, the storyteller, the Father I was missing and he so boldly stepped in to be for me :)

 I'm interested in hearing from any other PK's out there. As I work through this and write about it, I'd love to know what you think. That's all for now.