Church Life as Youth

We didn’t go to church very often when I was a child. My idea of God was vague. However, I was taught to kneel at bedtime and say “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul will keep. If I should die before I awake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

My father was a divorced Southern Baptist. How well he knew the Lord or the church never was discussed. My mother’s family was Catholic and she had attended college in Missouri at a Catholic convent school. Mother of course was denied the sacraments of her church because she had married a divorced man. I realize now that must have hurt her deeply. There was not a Catholic Church in the little town of Supply and she was too much Catholic to attend any other church and my father loved her too much to make an issue of it. So he didn’t go either, thus I did not have much of a church life as a young girl.

There was one true Catholic family in this little town of Supply, the Messells. They drove every Sunday (weather permitting) to the larger nearby town of Woodward to go to church. We would drive there too occasionally. I loved to go. It was a small wooden church, rather sparse looking except for the pictures down each side. Most of all that drew my attention were the little beautiful sculptures of Jesus as a baby with his mother. They looked so beautiful and happy. I wondered if he ever got into trouble and got spanked.

Nothing of the service was ever explained to me, but I felt it was special and beautiful when certain parts of the service called for standing, sitting, or kneeling. I wanted so much to do what my mother and the others were doing, but mother would whisper “just sit still and watch.” But even then I wanted to understand what they were doing and why. I would look around at the beautiful little statues and lovely stained glass windows and wonder where God was. I wanted so much to see God. I thought that maybe He is busy answering my prayers. My mother never had time to explain chapel procedures. But I liked it and it was special to go whenever we did.

So growing up in the church was not really a part of my life. Even later when we moved to Woodward, church service was only an occasional thing. I don’t remember ever going to the Catholic Church together again with them until Sam and I were grown and we were living in Oklahoma City.

I was so locked into this loyalty problem that I rarely attended church unless specifically invited, even in college. Occasionally I would go with my mother to the little Catholic Church in Stillwater. This is ridiculous, but in college whenever it was necessary to fill in a questionnaire that asked for church preference, I wrote “Catholic or Baptist” which would have been a good laugh! Although I cannot remember any specific religious training as a child, I undoubtedly had some instruction. I always knew there was God and Jesus and wasn’t sure about the Holy Spirit. I did not belong to a church until I was married and had two small sons.

As Don and Sam became independent church was not a part of their lives, although they had been confirmed in the church. As Sam and I shared after Ellen’s death, he so wanted to have his relationship with God and open his heart and mind to Him, but Sam soon died. But I know the Lord was with him. And Sam was His.

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