“How can I write about something I’m confused about?”
She sat with her chin in her hand and a pout on her face. Big tears threatened to spill out onto her chubby cheeks.
“I’m confused as to why you’re confused.”
Her mother sat in much the same way, mirroring her daughter’s pose. Chin in her hand, a small frown etched between her brows.
“Okay,” Alice glanced up at her mother. “So how do you know God cares about us when awful things happen? I asked teacher and she says ‘you just know’. I’m confused.”
This had been Alice’s first day of Summer Bible School, a traumatizing event in and of itself for her. Because she had just had her sixth birthday, Alice was placed in a class for six-year-olds while her chums, Pearl and Chelsey, were placed with the five-year-olds. Her morning got progressively worse.
For one thing, Alice had convinced her mother to let her wear the new sundress she’d received for her birthday. The rest of the girls in the class had on shorts and pretty little tee shirts. She felt like a sore thumb. Alice had been so absorbed by the fact that she’d “worn the wrong thing” that she failed to hear the teacher call her name. By the time she realized she was being called upon, the class was tittering.
And now she had to write a dumb story about how God cares about all his children.
June clasped Alice’s small fingers in hers. “Let’s start at the beginning, okay? What was the morning like? Did you make any new friends?”
The tears testing the rim of Alice’s chocolate brown eyes at last tumbled over the edge as she poured out her story. Finally June was able to grasp most of Alice’s take on her first day at Bible School.
“Oh, Sweetie!” June crooned softly. “Your morning sounds awful. Let’s make some decaf tea in Mommy’s special tea pot and talk about this. What do you say?”
“So why Mom?” Alice asked as she tried to hold her tea cup with her baby finger held out to the side. “Why does God let bad things happen if he loves us so much?”
June considered her daughter’s heartfelt question. How to explain faith? How to go about explaining to her child that the knowing is precisely at the root of it all? Keeping things simple was probably the best way to go.
“Alice, you know how Mommy and Daddy give you choices? Which program on television is more important to you or what you’d like to wear to Bible School? Stuff like that?” Alice was solemn as June pushed on. “And you know how sometimes even if you are alone, you feel safe because you know Mommy and Daddy love you?”
Alice nodded thoughtfully.
“Well God’s love is like that. He promises us that He will always be with us, even when things seem awful, like your first day at Bible School. God also gave us a special gift. It’s called ‘free will’. That means we get to make our own choices about things that are important.
Still Alice seemed dubious. Reaching for another cookie, Alice hesitantly spoke. “But Mom. If God sees us deciding the wrong way, why doesn’t He stop us? Sometimes little kids choose wrong.”
June’s mouth curved into a soft smile. If nothing else, her daughter was right about that. Diving in again, June nodded. “You’re right Alice. Sometimes little kids choose wrong. But you know what? Sometimes big people choose wrong, too. Like Mommies and Daddies. Like your Bible school teacher or Mrs. Dean at the post office. Sometimes choosing wrong helps us to choose right the next time.”
Chuckling, June sipped her tea. “We all choose wrong at times. That’s why it’s so important to think things through before deciding. But, we still get to choose. If God stopped us from choosing for ourselves we’d never learn anything. Knowing that He will be with us whether we made a good choice or a bad one feels good. God’s love is warm and safe and always there. Does that make sense?”
June watched as Alice mulled. Then, slowly, Alice’s face lit up with a smile.
“I get it Mommy! Even though you can’t see the love, it’s always there. Like knowing that no matter what, He won’t ever leave us. He’s there when I cross the street or drink tea with you ‘cause He cares.”
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