I want my kids to know that they can have faith without having all the answers.
This sounds obvious, what believer doesn’t want that? But it seems what many Christians actually really want is to appear to have all the answers. All of them. So their faith will seem absolutely sure-footed and concrete, unquestionable and safe, to themselves and all the others. It would be easier that way. I understand.
Last time I was here I told stories about my grandparents; how different and the same their faith was from mine. My grandfather was the one who, when I asked if he’d ever doubted, said NO with no hesitation and a bit of a gasp.
I realized after writing that post that I’ve never doubted either. Not in the way I was referring to, anyway. What I realized is that I have certainly doubted Christianity–The Church and The Religion–but God? Christ? No, I really haven’t. I was kind of surprised to realize that, but it’s true.
Doubting and questioning, those are two different things.
I have questioned the existence of God, but when it comes to the end of the day, for me, He just is. I can’t shake Something/Someone who just Is. So I let the questions come and let the answers follow. They always do, if I’m open to them. There were times I was closed up in shame but even then, looking back, there He was quietly walking around my heart waiting for me to open.
I hope my kids feel that, too. And I hope their questions make their faith unique and authentic, but quiet.
The louder Christianity that comes to mind for most people is the one that wears out the path from the one’s front door to the church building, back and forth, back and forth, looking sideways at people outside the bubble, confused as to how the others could be walking through life with out knowing Jesus. It is a frustrated Christianity, loudly judging or quietly but obviously rolling its eyes.
Know Jesus. Know Peace. No Jesus. No Peace. It’s obvious, to them. How could you not want Jesus? HOW do you not see that you need him? They seem to grow quickly impatient and frustrated.
At a young age, I understood why many people didn’t Know Jesus, and I was confused as to how we could really know who knew Him and who did not. As an insecure preteen and adolescent I was mostly aware that somehow, the Evangelical Christian community I grew up in, and everyone else–the non-believers and wrong believers and the in-betweeners–existed in two different bubbles, bouncing off one another, the Christians in one bubble and the rest of the world in another bubble. That’s how it had always felt to me.
I was a kid that felt this distinct bubble effect because I sensed in my faith community this wrong versus right mentality was winning. Like maybe we talked about that more than anything else.
I guess that’s why I was embarrassed, some of the time. By the Contemporary Christian music playing in my mom’s car, setting me apart while my non-Christian friends rode along. Or, I would feel a surge of humiliated adrenaline at the Christianese spoken at the dinner table, a friend sitting as a guest, looking a little confused and uncomfortable.
I felt it during sermons and at concerts, at camp and at my small Christian college. Many messages spoken to young Christians have to do with not being ashamed of the gospel, so this was a problem for me. I thought that feeling awkward around Contemporary Christian music and Christianese meant that I was obviously ashamed of the gospel. Of course I now know that maybe I was just a normal kid, wanting to not only to fit in with everyone else, but also worrying that my friends would feel not-Christian-enough to be liked around me, which happened a lot. I think that’s a feeling born of the bubble effect, not because of me or a lot of other Christians that wish the bubbles were less….I don’t know, there.
Maybe it’s because I felt this awkward embarrassed reaction a lot, and I felt it strongly, that I came to feel that these were the ways we Christians were set apart. Our music, our language and not drinking or smoking or having sex–because every time I heard “set apart”, I heard about that sort of thing. About taking a moral high road so people will notice you’re different.
I get that and to some degree it may be true, but I want my kids to think set apart means that they will love so radically and freely that whatever moral choices their making, through all their years of figuring it out, won’t be what people are even able to focus on. Does that make sense?
You know, like Jesus. I know he didn’t screw up morally, but what I mean is that He loved so fiercely it was the most noticeable thing about Him. The people who were open to that love certainly felt it, and the Pharisees felt it too but it was threatening to them. Either way, it was undeniable, however it was defined in the end.
I hope my kids keep loving ridiculously even when people doubt their faith could be real.
It’s so hard to stand up and keep going when you live your faith differently than in the bubble. The opinions of most people in the bubble will be that you’ve “fallen away.”
I was very young when I learned to be quiet within the bubble, but I thought that maybe it was okay to figure out what you think and feel and believe, authentically. It seems so often people do all kinds of exploring and come to find that the faith within the bubble, the Thing it is if the bubble were not there, is still the most appealing option for them. It may not come packaged just so–being set apart in a non-bubble way–but maybe it bursts the bubble and lands them in the other bubble, just as sure-footed and grounded and maybe even totally okay.
It’s really hard to say, since we can actually, when the day is done, speak for no one other than ourselves.
When it comes to “Religion” I hope my kids learn to speak for no one other than themselves, in a language that most often has no words. I hope they ask the questions and stay open for the answers that always come, especially from the most unexpected, seemingly “wrong” places. The answers are found in the midst of wherever we’ve landed.
I hope they land outside the bubble. There, I said it. My kids, please, will be Christians with no other label attached. I hope.
God Is. So He will be there and I can hope a lot of things for the faith of my children and even if I ask them, Do you ever doubt and they answer Yes, quickly and with a little gasp, it’s okay. He is. Everywhere.