Monday, July 26, 2010
Heart Breaking Question
We have a wonderful toddler bible. I really love it. We read Claire one story each night from this bible. I think we have made it through the entire thing at least 5 times and are still going strong. It has planted many of the better known bible stories in her mind and that has offered us countless opportunities to teach her about God throughout the day. Like when she is scared at night after having a bad dream, we remind her what Daniel did in the lion's den when he was scared. He prayed to God.
So the other night we were at the hardest story of the bible for a 3-year-old. The death of Jesus. She has always handled this story with no problem. Fortunately, this bible is truly geared toward the toddler so it is a "just the facts" version that avoids getting too detailed. But Claire was in a "why" mode that night. We got lots of "why" questions that night and did our best to answer them.
Bible: The soldiers arrested Jesus and marched him to Jerusalem.
Claire: Mommy, why are they marching him to Jerusalem?
Me: Well honey, Jesus told everyone that He was God and they didn't like that.
Bible: The soldiers put a crown of thorns on Jesus' head. They whipped him. The soldiers put Jesus on a cross to die.
Claire: Mommy, am I going to die?
Now, what I wanted to say was, "No, sweetie. You aren't going to die. Don't worry!" That would have been easy. But we decided a long time ago that we were not going to lie to our kids to avoid uncomfortable situations. But it is so hard to stick to that resolve when you really want to protect their little hearts from fear and preserve their innocence. Obviously we know that we need to choose our words wisely when tough questions crop up. The trick is to figure out how much of the truth they can handle and only dish out that much. Give them enough information to answer the question honestly. If they want more information, they'll ask more questions. So with a quick glance over at Michael that begged him to, PRAY, I looked back at Claire and said, "Well, yes baby. One day you will die. But not today."
Claire: (tears now welling up in her little eyes) Mommy, will you hold me when I die?
Me: (wanting to cry at that question) Yes, baby. I will. But remember that you are not going to die right now. You are okay.
Unfortunately, Claire still looked a little uncertain and scared. UGH!!! This is just what we need right before bedtime.
Claire: Mommy, are the doors locked?
Me: The doors? You mean the doors to our house?
Claire: (nodding fearfully)
Me: Yes, honey. The doors are locked. Are you scared?
Claire: (another nod)
Me: Why? What is scaring you?
Claire: I don't want the soldiers to come.
Now I get it. I now know what has her so upset. She thinks that to "die" means you get whipped by soldiers and put on a cross. So when I told her that one day she would die, just not today, she took that to mean that one day she would be taken away by soldiers, whipped and put on a cross. Talk about a punch in the gut. MY POOR BABY!
Me: Oh honey. There are no soldiers coming for you. Jesus did that so that we would never have to. Jesus didn't want the soldiers to come get us and hurt us, so He let them do it to Him instead. Isn't that so nice of Him?
Claire: (still a little uneasy) Yes.
Me: He loves you that much!
Claire: (another nod)
We decided that we didn't want to end the night on such a dark note, so we read further in her bible. We read the story where Jesus comes out of the tomb and also the one where Jesus gathers with his disciples again after he rose from the grave. These two stories seemed to calm Claire's nerves and she was back to her giggly, happy self.
SIGH. I prayed and prayed that night that my fumblings to find the best answer wouldn't leave her feeling anxious or fearful. I also prayed that if she had any lingering fears about that conversation, that she would ask more questions. But so far none have surfaced. She seems happy and content with the answers given.
I do love God moments. Moments when I can seize opportunities in our day to talk about God and share with Claire all the wonderful things He does for us. But I must admit this one was a little tough. Up until this night, the God moments were all about happy, joyful things which aren't hard to discuss. This was my first taste of what I know will be a lifetime of tough questions. Because they will only get harder as my girls get older.
Lord, help me to always be filled with Your Spirit that I will have YOUR answer ready when the tough questions arise.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. --James 1:5