Volume 5 Number 3
Parenting One Step at a Time
by Deadra Johns
“But Mom, I really like these plastic beads with the little man on the cross. Why can’t we give a rosary to everyone in Sunday school?” (Nate at age 7)
What was I supposed to say?
Even with a seminary education, ten years in parish ministry, and more than four decades of life experience, there are some things for which I have felt woefully unprepared. Among them are my children’s theological questions. Becoming a single parent is another.
Being a single parent is hard. And I would be lying if I said that being a member of a community of faith makes it easier. The truth is that sometimes it makes it harder...especially if you’re a minister. When my marriage fell apart reactions of church members ranged from unwavering support to withdrawal of financial support. My family, once a symbol of success, was suddenly an incarnation of failure. The church and I found ourselves challenging each other in ways we had never dreamed.
Still, I can’t imagine raising children apart from the church. Even if being a member of a community of faith doesn’t always make life easier, it unquestionably makes life richer. The church has directed us down paths and led us to places we wouldn’t have found on our own, from packing groceries with Crisis Ministry to teaching Bible School classes in Jamaica to performing a premier work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
One spring my friend and colleague, David Wall, whose daughter, Elizabeth, is a friend of my daughter’s, encouraged our family to participate in Princeton Seminary’s annual Hunger Run. The mile-long “Fun Run/Walk” was just right for Aryn and Elizabeth. I managed to struggle through the 3.1 mile race. Nate was a member of his middle school track team and, though he had never run a race longer than a mile, made this his first-ever 5K race. By the end of the day we were all glad we had
participated in the event. Best of all, doing well in the Hunger Run gave Nate the confidence and the inclination to join the high school cross country team the following fall. Two years, twelve pairs of running shoes, and five varsity letters later, he’s still running. As a result, Nate has found a place with a great group of kids in an over-crowded high school where he might just as easily have become lost.
For me, Nate’s races symbolize our family’s faith journey. One step at a time, up the hill, through the woods, back out to the road. Some days triumphant, some days not. Run some, rest some, try again tomorrow.
Deadra Johns is the coordinator of donor research and institutional planning in the Seminary Relations Department. She is mom to Nate and Aryn.
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