Just so you know

All right. I have ideas. I think about stuff. So here is the spot for stuff I'm thinking about and want to be able to share more broadly and possibly promote. Like I have time for this.

Everything is provisional at this point and subject to change in the future - as far as the blog is concerned. In real life some things will remain unchanged.

Also, our children are not really named Lenny and Linus. We are not that cool.

Feel free to share, rant, disagree, but please remember that I'm an actual person who tries to be respectful. I'd love it if you are and do to.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Bunny Problems: Teaching My Children About My Faith When I'm Struggling with Doubt

photo credit: tinkernoonoo via photopin cc 

I took Lenny to the library yesterday after school for a program they call "Paws for Reading."  The idea is that the library staff reads some stories and then the kids read out loud to volunteers and/or a therapy dog.  The dog didn't make it this time, but that's beside the point.

The first story read this week was about a boy who went to his grandma's house for Easter and was afraid the Easter Bunny wouldn't be able to find him.  It was a "chapter book" and each chapter outlined a new strategy the boy and his friend used to try to let the Easter bunny know where he's be.  In the end, even though the door to the building had been painted and was not the color the boy had claimed it would be in his letter, the bunny found him and left a letter saying he was magic and would always be able to find him.

The librarian who read the story asked lots of questions as she read and Lenny and the two other kids listening participated pretty enthusiastically.  I got nervous.  I realized that we had completely forgotten to have the "some kids really believe in the Easter bunny and we don't want to burst their bubble" discussion.  I kept waiting for him to enlighten the rest of the group.  But he was into the story and willing, as long as the pages were turning, to suspend disbelief.  I thought we were safe.

When the story was over, however, he piped up, "We know who the Easter Bunny really is.  Our moms and dads."

Librarian: "No, the Easter bunny's magic and if you believe something different you should talk about it at home."

Story time moved on.  The other kids didn't seem to have paid much attention.

Later, as we were making our way through the grocery store (backwards because Lenny forgot to mention while we were in the library that he needed to use the potty) I decided to have the "don't burst their bubble" conversation.  Lenny was more intent on convincing me that he should get an Easter basket, but I finally got the message across.

Before I go any further I want to say that although the following conversation is not verbatim Lenny really does talk this way.  He's five, but he did use the word "deeply" in this conversation.  In the frozen food aisle.

So Lenny says, "I'll just say that the Easter Bunny doesn't come to our house."

This seems kind of problematic for true believers, so I say, "You could say that we are happy at Easter because Jesus is alive."

He says, "Kids don't really believe in Jesus."

"Really, why not?"

"They just don't.  I don't believe deeply in Jesus."

"You don't?  Why not?"

"Well I don't really understand most of the things the pastor says."

By now I'm looking for the frozen fruit or something and I don't pursue it any farther.  And I ignore the part of my heart that is breaking while I pick out zucchini get organic milk but forget the yogurt.

I've mentioned before that I struggle with my faith.  When I was a teenager I knew the "right" answers but wished that I could feel with my heart what I knew with my brain.  In college I found churches that specialized in experiencing God and in involving emotions as well as intellect in the Christian walk.  In my late twenties I was hit by a mysterious illness that robbed me of the career I had just finished preparing for and shook my faith.  Desperate prayers went unanswered.  I was alone - isolated - and God did not meet me in my loneliest times.

Now, as I approach the end of my thirties, I am healthier and my life is fuller than it was for many years.  I actually crave solitude.  But I'm also able to enjoy times with family and friends.  And we got to church very regularly.  It's one of Lenny's favorite times of the week.  He has meltdowns when we have to leave.

You could say that in His time and His way God has answered my prayers.  You could tell me that He has given me what I really needed and it's much better than what I could have imagined for myself.  You might be thinking that I am a better person because of what I've been through.  That I can now help and encourage others who are struggling.

Please don't say those things to me.  It hurts me to even type them.  I know Christianese better than most.  If thinking and saying the "right" things could fix this for me I wouldn't be in this spot in the first place.

What spot am I in? Questioning.  Reading blogs of agnostics and atheists and "progressive" Christians and finding their questions, their possibilities, their answers which are different from the "right" ones I grew up with to be a balm to a deep ache in my heart.  I am in a place of not knowing where my faith is going next.  I don't know how to talk to God.  I don't know how to teach my children about Him.  I am afraid that I am depriving them of something wonderful.  I am afraid that I am missing an opportunity.

I know that Lenny and Linus could be learning so much about God from me.  So many times in every day I could be saying, "This is how we know that God loves us... Let's pray about this... God will help us... Jesus loves you so much.... Isn't it amazing what God has done for us?"

But mostly I don't say those things.  Mostly I let his dad pray with Lenny at night.  We read to him from an illustrated children's Bible.  Around the supper tale his dad and I talk about how people can understand science and still have faith.  We talk about how it's important to take care of the earth.  Every day we tell him we love him.

And it hurts.  I thought I would be a different kind of mother.  I thought that I would pass my faith on to my children as easily as I pass on information about healthy eating.  Well, maybe I am.  But it's not the kind of faith I thought I would have.

I tell myself... that people come to faith from all kinds of angles.  That learning that it's OK to ask questions will be a gift to my children.  That God, if Hes really there, can work through my imperfections.

I know that not everyone believes.  Not everyone who had parents who were sure and taught them every day.  Not everyone who had parents who doubted or who weren't interested in spiritual things believes.  Or doesn't believe.  But people do tend to stick with what they were taught as children. 

So it hurts.  Still.  Again.  I don't know how to set it aside.  I don't know how to turn down the intensity.  Rest would help.  Sleep would be good.  But that isn't happening.  So.... that's all I've got right now.

No comments:

Post a Comment