It’s funny. Being a parent to small children, you just never know when you are going to have one of ‘those’ conversations.
I have noticed that this year, Livie’s sixth year, she is starting to ask some difficult questions.
When children hit 3 it seems like they have a question for EVERYTHING. You want to answer their questions because you know that their minds are sponges and they are learning at every turn. But sometimes their questions are so incessant, and well, you just have to lie – “I DON’T KNOW!!!” you finally scream, exacerbated! And they look at you wide-eyed and ask, “Why?” It really is a never ending cycle. And you wonder if you will actually go crazy.
But it does end.
And their questions change…
“Mommy, what is divorce?”
“Mama, what is cancer?”
“Mom, what is war?”
“What are drugs?”
These are some of the questions Livie is asking me now. It makes me tear up, even as I type. Because there comes a time in a child’s life when they begin to lose their innocence. And that makes me sad. They begin to realize that there is pain in the world. That people make bad choices. That people have to suffer. That people die. And that life is so very hard. I am thankful that my child is learning these things now by asking questions and listening to my answers and not having to experience the effects of these things first hand. Because there are so many children in this world that have to learn these sad truths the very hard way.
So the other night Olivia and I were riding in the car just the two of us. I was glad it was just the two of us, because that doesn’t happen unplanned very often. I love being with my children one-on-one. I see a different side of them, a very sweet, introspective side.
We were leaving down town Beaufort and a police car sped by us, missing us by a couple of feet. She stopped right in front us, so we waited a minute to see what was going on. She flew out of the car and ran up to a group of remaining kids (most of them split when they saw the cop car) and immediately began questioning them and looking through their stuff with her very large mag-lite. I rolled down my window so I could hear what was being said. It sounded like she was either looking for a weapon or drugs.
Livie and I were both enthralled with what was going on. But then the mother side of me kicked in and I drove away, not wanting to be caught in the middle of a shoot out or something!
That’s when the questions came. “What were they doing?” “Why was the police-girl chasing them?” “What was she looking for?”
I want to be honest with my kids – age appropriately honest – so I told her what I heard her saying to them. I said, “I think she was looking for drugs.” Then I had to tell her what drugs were. Then she asked me, “Why do people take drugs?” And this is where it got good…
I went on to explain to her that it’s almost like everyone has a hole in their heart that God puts there. A God shaped hole that only God can fill. But sometimes people try to fill it in with things other than letting God fill it. Like drugs and alcohol, boyfriends and girldfriends. And it makes them more and more sad every time, because the hole doesn’t get filled and the pain doesn’t go away, it’s just covered up for a while. Then we talked about pain and what that might mean for someone. We had had a conversation about divorce previously and she had just listened to an Odyssey about kids and divorce. So I used divorce as an example. When a child’s parents get divorced it makes them very sad. There is pain in their heart. Even if a person knows Jesus and has let Him fill in that hole in their heart, there will still be pain.
I want to be aware of these opportunities when they present themselves. It’s difficult talking about abstract thoughts and ideas to a child who is so concrete in their thinking. So when an abstract concept is presented in a real life example I want to jump on it! But I felt like I was complicating things for her. I’m really good at doing that.
But she was getting it. In fact she helped clarify things.
She said something like, “It’s like God draws a heart and colors it in. Then He erases part of it so He can fill it in again. And then sometimes we erase part of it and He comes back and colors that back in too.”
I was dumb founded.
That is the gospel. Right there. And it came out of my 6 yr. old’s mouth. So we then talked about how God is our Redeemer. He is the One that comes in and colors in the blank parts of our heart. And how without those blank parts, we wouldn’t need Him. And we wouldn’t know what it’s like seeing God do work in our lives and on our hearts. So that makes it ok to have the blank parts or the pain, because otherwise we wouldn’t know God as our Redeemer.
This all took place in about 5 minutes. But that’s all it took. That’s all that was needed. Olivia still has a God-shaped hole in her heart. God has not yet chosen to come in and fill it. But she is starting to get it and see her need for a Redeemer, Someone to come in and color in the blank part of her heart. I pray that day comes very soon for her. But in the mean time (and forever really) I hope to take every question and opportunity to point her back to the One who drew her heart to begin with and not be afraid to mess it up. Because God can use it, even when I over complicate things!