I became a believer at the height of Rich Mullins’ fame. His CDs and tapes were some of the first music I listened to, and his words framed this new thing called “Christianity” that I was learning about. Fast-forward 25 years, and I’m sitting at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN with my husband, young daughter, and teenage son. We had convinced the kids that this was going to be an awesome concert merely because it was being led by “that guy” who wrote the Wingfeather books they loved so much.
The chance to be front and center, listening to the Andrew Peterson was an easy sell. They didn’t understand that this was a tribute concert to a guy that they had never heard of. Nor did they really know the effect that this music had had on my life. As I watched my son throughout the concert, I was unsure of his thoughts. I just kept praying that somehow God would soften his teenage heart and really speak into it.
My husband and I are what you might call “first generation” believers. While we didn’t grow up in homes that were void of church attendance or the mention of God, they weren’t homes where the practice of belief was a constant. We dabbled in the world of Christianity and spent much of our young lives confused about what that even meant. For me, it wasn’t until high school that I finally understood what the promise God had called me into really was. For my husband it was in college.
We are both stumbling through this thing called “parenthood,” and “raising our children up in the admonition of the Lord.” But it was easier to stumble onward when our children were small. We could snuggle on the couch and read The Jesus Storybook Bible and, when they disobeyed, we could deal with their small attitudes and choices. But then our children grew into tweens and teens, and the small attitudes grew into bigger ones and the struggles with belief and understanding sin and forgiveness became a mirror for how we still don’t understand our own sin and forgiveness.
So I looked down the bench at the Ryman and I saw my son and I wondered if these words were having any effect on him? I heard the words of Rich Mullins, those words that I sang in my dark bedroom, feeling lost and alone, and I wondered if they could even begin to undo all the Bible words I’ve flung at him in my attempts to parent him?
He came home and went straight to his room to listen to music and I flung words of doubt and frustration at myself as I continued to doubt that God can use my husband and I at all to teach our children about Him.
Later my son came out and asked to play us his new favorite song and we listened expecting another Journey song—and the beginning of “What Susan Said” (by Rich Mullins) came out of the speakers. As I listened to the words I realized that in the same way God found my husband and I exactly where we were all those years ago, He’s finding our children too.
And I remember what Susan said
And ain’t it funny what people say
And ain’t it funny what people write
And ain’t it funny how it hits you so hard
In the middle of the night
And if your home is just another place where you’re a stranger
And far away is just somewhere you’ve never been
I hope that you’ll remember, I was your friend
I hope you’ll have the strength to just remember
I’m still your friend