I would really like to have Ariel ask me questions about autism, our body, the inner workings of our intestines, or questions about our galaxy. We have covered a lot of those topics, and she seems fairly satisfied with the answers, if she is not she digs through and reads the many books that we have on the topics, or we look for things on Discovery or the History Channel online, or YouTube can have some very resourceful things. We learned several words in Arabic and Italian today. However, that is not what she is asking about.
Nope, she is asking me “Why can’t I hear God’s voice?”
Why did Peter stop looking at Jesus and fall into the water? What does covet mean? Why can’t I walk on water, I have faith as small as a seed. Along with saying things like “I don’t know if God exists, I can’t see him.” She has been reading Bible graphic novels for a couple of weeks now, Genesis to Revelation. She has also read several of their Children’s Bibles. She knows every story in great detail and is asking about each one. She says that she knows what special power God gave her it’s “Science” she said: “I know and understand science, but I wish God would give me the powers to speak animal.” She told me that she knows that God lives in the clouds, but he also lives in us, so she doesn’t understand why he doesn’t talk.
Yesterday (still today) she was completely fixated on a dragon fortress that she wants for Christmas.
She started praying for it, Ariel does not like to pray. She says that she is too shy, so it is a big deal that she started praying. Many Christian parents I have been around would feel proud, and excited about some of what she was saying and asking, but to me it is hard. Well they may freak out because she wants a dragon fortress. I cannot legitimately look my little girl in the eyes on Christmas morning and say that Jesus brought her a dragon fortress.
God is not a Santa Claus figure.
He is not a simple pray and get what you want kind of character. I am fairly certain that is the wrong message to be taught about him. He is hard to understand, I cannot with a clear cautious say that I hear Him at all. Why? Because I have mixed my own personal feelings, fears, and agenda’s into my prayers and managed to convince myself of things so I could feel like I had the answers. I am not denying God or that he answers prayers, I am challenging my own perceptions and acknowledging my ability to fool myself. He has answered many prayers for me, but the fact that I was able to convince myself that my voice sounds a lot like His is something that needs to be dealt with. I am.
I do not want to pass that on to my little girl.
She is reading every word quite literally, and I know how damaging that is because I have done it. The Bible and things of God need to be taught differently to my children. Example, Ariel and Joshua spent the other evening and yesterday afternoon discussing Bible stories, and the gospels, I let them have their conversation and would challenge them when they were taking things a bit too literally. They are 5 and 7 discussing these things.
It is important that I help them not get stuck in literal thinking.
A good reason for this is because later in the day I walked into the living room, and Joshua was on his knees with his hand clasped. He stopped when I asked him if he was praying and he giggled and said:”Yes”. I asked him if he wanted to tell me what he was praying for he said: “Oh, I was praying that I would make good decisions.” The churches we have been in, and certain family members would jump on this saying how wonderful he was, or how he had a gift from God. I do not have a problem with him praying, I think it is great if they want to pray, or seeking spiritual things.
The concern I have is that they all tend to fall into black-and-white thinking.
Making good decisions implies that something that could turn into a deeper issue, the feeling that there is only right and wrong. For many people that is not an issue, for me and my kids it is. There is the constant challenge of not falling into guilt, or feeling like being wrong is the worst thing in the world. When it comes to God I have suffered a very long time with feeling like God thought badly of me or I had to do things to be good. I will not allow that to happen to my kids. Maybe I am a bit sensitive, but the other night when Ariel and I sat her room hanging out talking, she looked at me and said out of no where: “I wonder why I can’t hear God’s voice.” I asked: “What do you mean baby?” She started to tear up and with a shaky voice said:”I don’t know why I can’t hear God’s voice. I try to hear him and I can’t”. She is only 7 years old darn it! (I later discovered that she had read 1 Samuel 3 when God speaks to Samuel as a boy.)
I fought back my own tears, I was not going to allow my baby to go through that.
I scooped her in my arms and just held her as she cried in my lap. I was more angry with God than I had ever been in that moment. Even with many of the things that I have struggled with dealing with churches, other Christians, or my own personal issues, none of those had a hint of meaning as I stroked her hair. Nothing else compared to what she was feeling. I knew that feeling, I have been feeling it for months, years to be honest. And just because I say that doesn’t mean I lack faith, I have so much faith it makes me angry! I can’t get rid of it, even if I want to, believe me I have tried. I mean no disrespect to God or people who have faith, know that this is my own rantings. I cupped her face in my hands and I told her: “I don’t hear God either.”
She busted me!
She looked straight at me and said: “But you said that God gave you our names before we were born.” D’oh! She was right. I told her the truth. The truth is, I felt like their names did come from God, but I did not hear some audible voice from heaven or in my head. I saw their three names flash in my head and heard them in a voice, it’s the same voice that is talking now as I type. The same voice when I read, the same voice that writes poetry and everything else. Maybe I just hear God in my voice. So I asked her if she heard a voice that possibly told her right and wrong. Or other things. She said: “Yes, I hear a voice and I think that it is Jesus, but He always says yes.” We laughed together when she said that because we both know that Jesus does not always say yes. After I explained that I do not hear a voice, and shared the ways that I see God or feel like He is talking through nature, friends, songs, books, or the many other things that can reach us, she was all smiles. The pressure of hearing Him was lifted, and she was fine with my response.
It is hard to discuss spiritual matters with kids.
I shared with her that I may not hear God all the time. However, I do feel like when I see rainbows in the sky, or things like a pair of Converse that I have wanted for so long, and carry a huge significance to me suddenly appear in my size at a very cheap price, seems like God is there. She has witnessed many things like that happen for me, they have happened for her too and I reminded her of them. These things tend to happen during my lowest of times. For me it seems like God is saying “Hey, I see you and your are going to be alright. Here is a little something that will bring you a smile.”
Is it Jesus?
Is it the Universe, my Dragon friend I left in Germany, or an invisible friend? I do not have a clue. I feel like it is God, and I will stick with Jesus. Although, I am not going to carry all the baggage and confusion that has been looming my life for almost 13 years, about who or what it is. I got really messed up when I walked into the strange world of churchdom. I mean no disrespect, but our brains are not wired well for church in this household. It causes more confusion than answers, at least right now.
My kids bring up some hard topics.
They ask us about what we believe and why. They ask about divorce, why people lie, why people don’t like people because of their race, or religion. They want to know why, a lot of these questions come from Ariel she is always thinking and observing these things. I want her to feel safe when she says I don’t know if God exists. I have seen kids get yelled at or have seen parents respond in fear when their child said that. For me it was a moment that made me feel good, she is thinking about it. She is reading the bibles around here and pondering the stories and questioning. When she gets older I will introduce her to church history and more details about other faiths. I am not afraid of her not believing what I believe.
I am afraid of her not having her own faith.
Or finding her own beliefs and becoming shaky because she was not able to discover herself. I have more trust in God’s ability to reach down and convince her of Him, than forcing her myself or worse yet using fear to make her believe something. I feel that way for all of the kids. The boys are not really pondering about spiritual matters yet, but they have asked their own hard questions. Not like Ariel, not yet, but I know that it is coming. These kids think, they ponder, they reason, and they do not stay quiet about it. They do not settle for simple answers. I don’t want them to believe what we have told them without thought, or feel like our authority as parents trumps their valid questions. I want them to learn and grow with us, I want them to feel comfortable challenging and questioning. I want Ariel to develop her God given superpowers of Science!
I want them to feel safe talking about things, and never feel like they are wrong if they don’t agree with us.