That’s what people usually say when you ask a question they’ve either never thought of, don’t want to answer or when they feel the need to patronize.
In this case, I’ll take door number 4, Betty!
I have already thought of this question and I even want to answer. I’m just not sure I can.
The Question, from the thought-provoking and talented BoysMom:
How do you teach your children to be faithful Christians when you’re struggling yourself?
Well, first off I have no intention of pretending my walk with G-d is anything but what it actually is. Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of effectively living as an example of true faith? I’m not afraid to apologize to my kids, laugh at dumb stuff, y’know, live normal? And part of that normal is for them to see me walk through the hard things too. Like asking where G-d is and does He give a rip about me when I see how hard life can be. I haven’t always had this mindset but it’s the place I live in now. It’s how I roll.
I think, perhaps, and this thought is still gestating so while not fully formed I like to believe it somewhat sentient, we think being faithful means never having to say “huh?” That’s kind of like “love is never having to say you’re sorry.” Crap. Even G-d “repented” of something He had predetermined to do. But we think we’ve got better odds? Good luck with that.
In my life faith is often the vehicle that carries me through when I don’t understand. I must choose to believe that which I don’t see and often I end up somewhere I never imagined. Sometimes it “feels” great and sometimes it completely sucks. Totally.
How I respond when it both “feels great” and “totally sucks” will show more of the example of a faithful Christian than the Hopscotch Vanilla Christianity patterned so often to me in the past.
I want my kids to understand that sometimes they pray and there is silence. I want to show them I don’t believe that silence negates G-d’s intervention or intention in their life. I want them to understand that sometimes you can pray and pray for something and end up fifty miles down the wrong road, reading the map upside down and insisting it’s someone else’s fault. But that, ultimately, we aren’t in this alone. This thing called life.
Every once in awhile I wonder if I should have led earlier bits of my life from more of an intentional viewpoint. Perhaps I should have more calculatingly considered the repercussions of who I have chosen to entangle my life with.
But you know? The truth is that I can’t control every aspect of my own life much less predict the behavioral probabilities of others. I can only do the next thing. The thing right in front of me.
And for me? This next thing is working out how angry I’ve been with G-d for not being who I thought He was. Why? Because I need to understand who He is.
I have a loving G-d. Infinite, powerful, glorious. Itty-bitty living space. He has chosen to dwell within me. A temple not made with hands.
Well, just damn. Wow.
And I know all that. Really I do. But He allowed a little man with an inferiority complex to feed on my soul while I sincerely tried to serve Him. He allowed bad people to victimize me when, as a child, I couldn’t defend myself because I couldn’t even understand what was happening. He allows… Why?
He could part my red sea and bring me through with dancing and prophetic songs. He could. If He wanted to. So why doesn’t He? Why does He seem to take me from one place to the next by sacrificing dreams and hopes and then wreaking havoc on any sense of safety and security to which I hold on? So help me if you tell me it’s because He’s my only “safety and security” and I have idolized these things I will come through the screen and give you a slimey wet willy. Don’t test me. I will.
G-d’s bigger than I am. He’s beyond my comprehension. He’s not a tame lion, is He? He’s not really safe but I don’t think we’re promised safe. Or secure. At least I can’t find those kind of promises in the Book I read. Perhaps it’s because my Book’s got a pink cover. I’m sure that’s it. Yeah.
This life, this faithful Christian life, isn’t about the absence of pain or the elimination of struggle. In my experience, it’s about being able to take the next step when we don’t believe we can. When we shouldn’t be able. It’s walking on water when everyone else sinks and all you can do is keep your eyes looking up when all you want to do is sink into despair. That’s what Peter would do.
Ha. I think I’m a lot more comfy with WWPD than WWJD. Peter will falter, say all the wrong things, lash out in anger and humiliate himself. Peter will repent and beg forgiveness and then get mad when restitution doesn’t look like he expected. Peter will be a hypocrite and then apologize. Peter is the “rock on which” Jesus “built His church”. A church not built on the perfect, lovely and always delightful John the Beloved, my least favorite disciple, nor on the always right, “best answer, please” and perfect lineage Saul/Paul. The Body of Messiah built on the flawed and very undeserving shoulders of a despised Galilean, uncultured, uneducated fisherman with impulse control and anger management issues.
Peter is real life. And somehow, to this flawed follower, the very picture of a “faithful believer”.
I believe if I can’t present something at least as real to my children?
They won’t stand a chance in this rotting cess pool we call “the world”.
At least that’s what I intend to do.
Until I get a better plan.