“Mummy!!! Come quickly! She’s using her sock as a tissue for her nose!”
“Who do we know who is dead in that graveyard?”
And what about:
“Daddy’s job is to sell money”
Just a few of the things my kids have said recently which have made me laugh. When children speak, it is such a window into their perspective of the world. I love that, as they fumble words together and practice new vocabulary, they communicate simple and, at the same time, profound views on life.
I was explaining to my eldest why some of us raise our hands in worship time. I discussed with her how it shows an agreement with the words that are being sung, or it is an outward display of our love towards God. She responded with “Oh. I thought it was so that you could hold hands with Jesus”. My heart.
Sometimes they obviously just get a bit confused with theology and end up singing songs like “Who built the ark? Moses! Moses!” and it’s clear that they haven’t made a firm decision on the interpretation of the Bible, rather just got a few wires crossed when parroting information.
But it is a joy to me when I hear how my girls are understanding spiritual life on their level and coming to their own conclusions of what is true and why it is important.
My 2 year old likes to be told who is kind or “not kind” in her picture Bible. This is such a difficult question to answer as she points to people like David or Jonah, and lengthy explanations of how these people were sometimes kind and often did things that were really NOT kind do not go down well with her, as she just repeats the question like we were dim to not understand it in the first place.
The black and white viewpoint of my little toddler is refreshing to me as it opens up a whole way of thinking for me as I answer her questions. I see the complexity of life, and the grey areas in moral dilemmas. Having the responsibility of explaining massive life topics to a child really makes you think carefully about what you say, and what you believe.
And one time recently, we sat at dinner. My eldest looks up and, out of nowhere, says “Mummy, I don’t know if I want to believe in God because it isn’t the easy choice. I just want to do what I want. But I do want to listen to Jesus. So I don’t know what to choose.” It was one of those moments where inwardly I am crying, praising God and rapidly praying that He gives me the words to respond. But outwardly I am calm and collected and ask my daughter to tell me more. She explains some more about how it seems like if you follow God, He might well ask you to make hard choices and do things that are difficult. With the Spirit’s help of course, I tried to answer as best I could. I spoke gently to my girl: “You are right my darling! God does often ask us to do things that are hard. And He does ask us to make tough decisions. But do you know what? Whenever He does that, He gives us the strength to do it! He never leaves us alone. He is always with us, and He helps us to make those decisions. And He gives us happiness to do it, and we are blessed! ” I carried on: “and I always think that if we choose not to believe in God, it might be easy to just do whatever we want, but it would also be lonely. And it would be hard to know what we should do because we weren’t close to God to hear His voice. And I always like to stay close to God and feel how much He loves me too. So it might seem easy, but I actually feel like that would be harder.” Phew. Speech over. I look at my daughter.” So what do you think you might like to choose sweetheart? It’s up to you.” She smiles at me and says” I want to follow Jesus”.
Times like this make me realise how much my children are taking the world in, spiritually as well as physically. And honestly, it terrifies me that they are thinking these things through and coming to their own conclusions. When my daughter declared that she would indeed like to follow Jesus, I have no idea how that is going to pan out. I don’t know what her life is going to look like, and it reminds me that I certainly cannot control it (thank goodness, really). But my husband consoled me when I later explained this little exchange; he said “don’t you think it’s great that our 4 year old is already realising that there’s a cost to following Jesus? How amazing that she knows that it will mean giving stuff up!” That is the foundation of real faith, after all.