Toughest Questions for Growing Up PKs
July 28, 2014 Amen Quizon
What is the difference between a polygon and a right triangle? When the moon passes in front of the sun, what kind of eclipse happens? What was the church hymn sang by the four-stringed quartet while the Titanic was sinking?
While these questions may really be tricky for most of us, these don’t even come at the tail of a Pastor’s Kid’s (PKs) list of toughest questions. Ironically, many questions that other people deem too easy are probably among the most difficult ones a PK encounters day in and out. I have listed some of these questions myself. I hope that after reading them, you will never ask these questions to PKs again (haha!), and you will learn of PKs’ seemingly simple but unique and interesting plight.
1. Taga-saan kayo? (Where is your homeplace?
While this question might be a no-brainer for many, this is probably one of the most difficult, and unfortunately, one of the most frequent questions a PK faces while growing up. A pastor’s work requires him to move places every now and then as he was being assigned to one church after another. And with the pastor comes his family. It’s already considered lucky (or blessed, rather) that a pastor’s family will not have to move place in two years. Filling out a form that requires a “home address” is a real head-scratch for a PK. Technically, a pastor’s family always has a house to stay in, but essentially they are nomads. Here in the Philippines they are known as NPA (no permanent address). So, when you ask someone, probably a friend, about where his or her homeplace is and you get a winding enumeration of several places with a matching explanation for each, then probably your friend is a PK, and you ARE giving him a tough time.
2. Saan ka nag-aral? (What school did you attend?)
Since a pastor’s family moves a lot, it follows that his children also transfer schools—a lot. Forms, especially those requiring the most detailed information like in college entrance and work records, normally has a note at the top of “schools attended” telling a person to use another sheet if needed. For us PKs, using another sheet to complete the list of schools we attended is not an option but necessary, otherwise we will hand in an incomplete information. So when you ask a PK which school he or she went to, you will probably get an answer like “What grade?” or “Do you mean where I graduated from?” When a PK answers a question for a question, there are only three reasons: he refuses to answer, he’s not sure of the answer, or he’s not sure of the question
3. Ano’ng trabaho ng tatay mo? (What is your father’s profession?)
Learning that your father’s occupation is a Preacher or Minister will give that background investigator from the university and human resource officer at the company with an automatic wrinkled forehead and a confused look. Not because they consider a pastor’s job a lowly one (I hope), but because of the realization that there’s actually a job like that. A fulltime service in the ministry is a divine calling, that’s why there are not as much pastors as there are lawyers or teachers or doctors around. And to top it all, many are surprised (or shocked, should I say) that a pastor can marry, and more shockingly, have kids.
4. Anak ka ng pari?? (You are a child of a priest??)
In connection to number 3, the probable reasons why many are surprised learning that a PK is a child of a religious worker is because of our predominantly catholic society. Priests is to the catholic church as pastors is to the protestant church, and many people just do not see any difference between the two. And many still are not even familiar with the term ‘pastor.’ Except for certain catholic denominations where priests and nuns are allowed to marry, the big difference between priests and pastors aside from their religious institution is that the former is bounded by vow of physical chastity and the latter is allowed to enter into marriage. Just to make my point clear, a PK is not a priest’s kid.
5. Bakit sa simbahan kayo nakatira? (Why do you live in the church?)
Churches usually provide houses or quarters, called parsonage, for the use of their workers. A parsonage can be inside the church compound, and it can well be outside (a house is called a parsonage whether inside or outside the church perimeters as long as it is provided by the church for their clergyman), but normally, it’s inside. When a PK heads home on the first day of school with new found friends, they are amazed, if not bewildered, that their new classmate actually lives in a church. But then again, the PK will be quick to say that they don’t actually live inside the church. They live in a house inside the church compound.
This brought me back to an experience a few years ago. Applying for student financial assistance in college, I had to describe (and even draw!) in detail how our house looked like. I thought for a moment to draw the church steeple hoping in that way the scholarship committee will be filled with mercy and give the grant. (Besides, I’m not sure what to draw. We live in this house for free, but we don’t own it, or any house we lived in.) Today I still wish I had done it.
6. Bakit hindi kayo nagsa-sign of the cross? (Why aren’t you making the sign of the cross?)
Most of PKs went or are going to public schools, which more often than not hold religion classes (by the way, it’s called ‘religion class’ but only Christianity from the catholic orientation is the one being taught). I still remember Sister Regina in my 5th and 6th grades who came to my school everyday to lead the class in reciting the rosary and then discuss a certain sacrament for about one hour. She tells the class that those who aren’t catholic may not participate. I was the only non-catholic, so instead of not participating, I’d stay and listen (and, well, participate).
I stand up when everybody’s being asked to stand up, and I read when everybody’s being asked to read. Everything they do and say and believed in seemed to be close to what I was taught at home and in church. It’s just that in the church and at home, I was taught how to pray in terms of content and not so much of the manner by which I should pray. Catholics have to make the sign of the cross before and after their prayer, while I was taught to pray away—simply, directly, genuinely. To my classmates, teachers, and Sister Regina who persistently asked before but never got an answer because I didn’t know where to start.
7. Ligtas ka na ba? (Are you saved?)
PKs get this question not from their preacher-parent, nor friends, nor church, but from someone whom God used to let the PK realize that salvation does not come from having preacher dad or mom. Yes, PKs were born and raised in the church and learned to pray even before they learned to utter complete sentences. Some may even be as good in the Bible as their parents are, and memorize more Bible verses and stories than any of his or her friends. A PK is practically a church body. But when the question hits, it hits hard, rock-bottom.
Realizing the truth that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6)—not the ministry involvement nor knowledge of the Bible nor upright living nor being a preacher’s child, all of which a PK is convicted of—the PK recognizes both his ordinariness and sinfulness. He receives Christ’s love and forgiveness and justice, and allows the Holy Spirit to use his present circumstances and abilities for God’s honor and glory.
Amen Quizon is 6th among seven children of a pastor and a deaconess. She is a researcher in the corporate world, and a seeker in the heavenly world. She embraces her not-yet-married status, but sets her heart to having a family and raising kids who love Jesus.