Saturday, April 24, 2010
Warning: This Post is Rambling and Somewhat Philosophical
One thing I appreciate about little children is the levity they bring to our lives. Nothing is more rewarding than being allowed a window into the joyous and sincere thought processes of a little one. Mundane things sparkle when viewed through the lens of a preschooler, and I have to remind myself of that during the more trying moments.
I took a long car trip with Small One yesterday. It was far longer than it should have been, actually, because my dear Small, who normally seems to have the bladder of a camel, needed to stop every ten minutes. I'm not sure what was up with that, but she was serious about it. At one point I told her she'd need to hold it a little while longer, as I'd stopped 10 minutes earlier, and a minute or two later I heard her voice pipe up in the back seat.
"Please God, help me hold my pee pee just a LITTLE bit longer."
Sigh. Obviously, I stopped.
We are a Christian household, and I have a strong faith. I've always read scripture to my children, taken them to church, encouraged them to develop a strong spiritual life, but lately I've been discouraged. It seems like there's so much that gets in the way of simple faith! For the teenagers, it's peer pressure, and societal pressure to always question... not that I have a problem with questioning, I've turned my own faith inside out at times, searching for truth, and believe I'm stronger for it. With the preschoolers, though, it's something different. It should be easy- Jesus himself spoke of the beauty of childlike faith. But it's not easy, because today's children are bombarded with images and information, and even though I take Small to Sunday school and she's enrolled in a church preschool, I feel like there's a fear, even among Christian people, of telling children anything real that goes along with our religion.
At Easter, for instance, we were told in Sunday school not to teach the little ones anything about the true meaning of Easter, because death and resurrection are far too heavy for little children to comprehend. Ok, well, maybe, but by three and a half they've been exposed to Snow White and Batman and who knows what all else? Their pets die. Their loved ones die. Show me an almost four year old who doesn't know what the word "die" means, and I'll show you a very sheltered four year old. So why, when the death and resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith, are we not allowed to teach it in simple terms they understand. One of our banned lessons had the following (deeply controversial) theme: "Jesus's friends were happy that he was alive again!" In my opinion, it would take a pretty unintelligent three and a half to be unable to grasp that one! I think we're seriously underestimating our children these days, in many ways, feeding them crap physically, mentally, and spiritually, and fooling ourselves into believing that's all they can handle. Is it the children that have a problem, or are the adults around them uncomfortable with the idea that a person so small could actually have an idea or insight? Or is it that we're trying so hard to be politically correct that we strip the world of meaning, lest someone be offended?
All that to say, I've been discouraged. I've questioned whether it makes any difference whatsoever to take your children to church, if the church isn't going to teach them anything. But yesterday, with roughly 65000 hours in the car together, I got to hear some of Small's theology.
First, she asked me how God gets out of her heart when he has things to do. I stumbled over this one, because "God in your heart" is sort of an ethereal concept for someone as literal as my Small. And really, it's a good point. God's a busy guy, you know, making the rain fall, and the grass grow, and all that sort of whatnot. How's he supposed to do that from the rather confined space inside the chest of a three year old girl?
She followed it up with this, though:
Small- "You know, Pinocchio asked Jesus to come into his heart. Pinocchio is a puppet, sort of like the muppets."
Me- (not sure where she was going with this) "Hmm... and what did Jesus say?"
Small- "Oh, he said yes! That's how Jesus is! If you ask him into your heart, he always says yes! God is like that too, if you ask him for help he helps you!"
I thought that was pretty good, actually. I can go with that.
She later told me that her skinned knee was getting better. We talked about how our bodies are able to heal themselves. She asked me how they know how to do that all by themselves, and I told her that God made our bodies that way. She seemed content with that answer.
A few minutes later, I heard her in the back seat again.
"Thank you, God, for making my knee better. Thank you for my healthy body that knows how to heal all by itself. Thank you for making my wonderful body!" Then she interrupted herself to say, "Mommy! You thank God for your wonderful body, too!"
And so, I did.