Oh, my. Last night the questions started rolling. Not the birds and the bees type of questions, but questions about the Trinity. I almost had Alex asleep while singing “Amazing Grace”. Out popped, “who found you??”
“Who found me?!”
And then I realized something. He was actually LISTENING (imagine that?!?) to the words I was singing….”I once was lost, but now am found.”
After I tried to explain that God found me, I got a little nervous, waiting for his sure to come questions about WHERE I had been lost and did I have surgery to be able to see now.
I bungled through those questions and moved into “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” while pushing the binky into Drew’s mouth and ready to get Alex off to Never Never Land. But then the next trap came….”from the Earth to the Cross, my debt to pay.”
“WAIT, Mommy! Jesus died on the cross! Did God die on it too? Who is God?”
The questions kept coming and left me speechless. He was truly hitting on the mystery of the Trinity. How, in this season of Christmas and Advent where we’re talking so much about Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, how in this framework do we explain clearly that Jesus is God’s son. But also Mary and Joseph’s son. And additionally, that He lives in our hearts. And that Jesus IS God, but not JUST like Him. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Seriously. It’s confusing stuff. Even for adults. Even for “Masters of the Divine” as I like to jokingly call Matt due to his degree.
On Saturday night, Alex finally amended the need to say that God is in his tummy (something he’s randomly been claiming for about the last year, maybe due to my pregnancy?!?). He said that God and Jesus are in his heartbeat. And mine. And then he pressed his ear up to my chest and said he could hear God.
These discussions have brought me back to countless moments I had while on summer staff at Westminster Woods, or while working with Young Life in Bellingham and Breckenridge, or advising a phenomenal group of ladies at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. Moments where questions were asked that didn’t make me question my faith, but rather, try and find words to explain it. And frankly, some things seem pretty impossible to explain with words. Guess why it’s called faith.
I know that scripture says to have faith like a child….but what do you say when that 3 ½ year old is trying to figure it all out? I still remain clueless about how to really approach and answer all of these questions and musings Alex has been having lately, but with nervousness, I’ll do my best to at least enter into the discussion. And my biggest prayer? That our kids will still be willing to ask the hard questions and wrestle with this stuff when they’re older. No doubt, they’ll be explaining it to me.
Some Resources if You’re Interested…
I have been so grateful to walk this road of parenting with many good friends. A group of us with kids around the same age started dialoging over email about this time last year, wanting to create some rituals around Christmas with our children. Traditions that would be more meaningful that Santa insanity and consumerism. One of our dear friends and mentors, Gail Hatch, sent an email that I still have in my inbox with tons of great reflections, ideas and suggestions. The most invaluable one for me has been the four volume series of Read Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall. The second volume is the one I pulled out tonight and Alex and I re-read “A Sad and A Happy Day” to try and answer some of his questions about Jesus’ death and “coming back to life” (seriously, God, the resurrection?!?! How is that supposed to be explained to a 3 ½ year old?!?). But I digress. Back to the books. As Gail said in her email last year , “the artwork is big and bold, the texts are s-i-m-p-l-e, and a great place to start. I even read them to my First Graders because the pictures draw the child in…and are so bold that they can draw a group of kids in! They are direct and no nonsense, but delightful! They also come with a few questions for the reader at the end, making the time a natural devotional.” I can’t agree with Gail more. They have become Alex’s favorite and most requested books, after Richard Scarry, and have really helped him internalize tons of stories from creation through the gospel.
As for the Trinity, I remember my mom reading me a wonderful, simple book called, A Picture of God: 3 in 1 by Joanne Marxhausen. Her approach is that just as the apple consists of three parts: the skin, the flesh and the seeds…it is still one apple. Similarly, God had three persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit…but He is one God. I haven’t read this with Alex yet, but it is still a vivid memory for me from my childhood. I seriously still remember how the pages of this book felt and how it smelled. I know, I’m a freak. Just saying, it’s worth a try.