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I don't discuss God constantly with my children. We do pray together, they go to church, but they aren't inundated with religion or spirituality throughout their day. That's why it always touches me when, at spontaneous moments unprovoked, they will bring up questions or their perceived observations about God.
Here are some of the questions my three year old son asked:
Where is God?
God is in heaven, right Mommy?
Is God in rain too?
Is God like a statue or is He in sunlight?
Is God a guy or is He a girl?
Now some of these questions I don't think have necessarily simple answers. Then again I have the tendancy to sometimes overthink things! I always try to give simple responses to my children, considering their ages, yet, I don't want to water down the truth or misrepresent it for the sake of convenience or simplicity. With these particular questions, and since my son is just three years old, I was able to pass through his line of questioning with relative ease.
My daughter who is seven has become more challenging with her questions particularly when it comes to some events in the Old Testament. We were reading the story of Noah the other day and she stopped me abruptly and asked:
"Mommy, if Noah only took two of every animal then that would mean the rest drowned. That's awful! Why would God do that? He was mean!"
I found myself in a bit of quandary there. I'm still considering what parts of the Bible are literal and which are figurative and since I'm still figuring things out I don't want to give my children false impressions until I am convicted with an answer. I believe it's important to be honest with our children when we aren't certain or don't know an answer. I told her I'd get back to her on that but I agree, that is awful. At the same time people during that time were doing some awful things themselves and God was looking for a way He could restore peace and end violence, suffering and evil. This was a very uncomfortable question for me to try to answer! What would have been your answer?
This question was uncomfortable not only because I didn't have an immediate reaction that seemed like it clearly answered her but also because it was so unexpected. I've taught Sunday school for years in the past. I've also been a vacation Bible school teacher and camp counselor. Not once did a child question the morality of an Old Testament story. All the children I have taught seemed to have just accepted what they were taught without questioning much of it.
Many adults have questioned though, myself included. My wrestle with God's morality and character in the Old Testament created a huge struggle in my faith about a year ago. I had never discussed this with my child, of course, but when my daughter came out with that question I felt my heart wince a bit. Faith might prove to be a not so easy road for her. But then again, is a genuine spiritual journey ever easy? And I couldn't help but feel a bit impressed at her ability to not just take information and beliefs verbatim but to think for herself and question.
When my children ask me questions about God my philosophy is to be open and receptive to their thoughts and questions. To answer honestly and when I don't know the answer, not to make up one, but to simply say that I don't know and suggest that we find out together. Us "finding out together" helps them learn in their lifelong journey of faith the process of seeking and finding the answers they need to help build the foundation of their faiths.
I think it's so important not to get angry or dissapointed by some of the things our children will come out with in their questions and opinions about God and the Bible, even if they are doubts or criticisms and make us feel uncomfortable. Much more effective is to approach these questions and doubts with an open dialogue and see them as opportunities to have both our children and ourselves learn and grow more in the process.
What are some of the questions you once asked about God when you were a child? Or some of the questions your children have asked you about God? Please leave in the comments section!