I don't typically write about religion in this public realm because my relationship with the Big Man has and always will remain a very personal journey. However, I feel compelled to relay this story...
I was at my brothers house last night to watch the sickening display by the Detroit Redwings as they handed over the Stanley Cup. There were quite a few people there to watch the game, have a couple of drinks and sit around the post-game bonfire. After sitting by the fire for awhile I decided to go back into the house to find my niece (age 7) and nephew (age 9) entertaining themselves with the usual videogames, dolls, etc.
I sat down at the kitchen table and after a few minutes both my niece and nephew were sitting across from me. I do not recall what started the conversation down this path but I soon found myself inundated with questions from them about God, dying, illness, etc. It caught me completely off guard and saddened me beyond words to hear the questions that they hold inside their little minds come pouring out. Many times these two cannot sit within two feet of each other before a fight breaks loose but they sat there on either side of me, raising their hands and taking turns asking questions (haha gotta love that!) with eyes wide open. I would like to share some of the highlights of this conversation:
Niece: "Umm... what does it mean when someone faints - do they like DIE?"
Nephew: "What if you don't know if you believe in God?"
Niece: "My grandma told me that her mom died and went to heaven and I just wish that I met her. Is she really in heaven?"
Niece: "What IS heaven?"
Nephew: "My friend said that we came from monkeys. But some people think we came from God..." (to which I replied 'Where'd the monkeys come from?')
Niece: "My friend said that we don't go to heaven. She said that when we get old we get littler and the world explodes." (<---that was a fun one to sort out with her...) Niece: "What if God and Jesus die?" (****Halfway through our conversation my niece said "I think I love God - I love you God.") Nephew: "What happens if you don't know if you believe in God and you die - where do you go - do you go to the devil's place?" Niece: "Yeah my friend said that the devil wants to make the Earth bad and wants to kill God." ..... and here's the clincher... After doing my best to answer their questions - and these were BIG questions to have fired at you so rapidly - my nephew was still confused why if there is a God that his friend would think we came from monkeys. He seemed worried that there was no unanimous decision. To which I told them "You will have friends, family and lots of people who might not believe in God the way that you do. But what matters most is what YOU believe in. Sometimes its hard to believe in something that you can't see. But because God lives so far far away in heaven we can't see HIM but we can see the things he does for us and that reminds us that he loves us no matter what. Just like your parents love you. Maybe sometimes they don't say it and maybe sometimes they get mad when you don't listen, or when you fight with each other - but no matter what - they always love you. And thats the way God loves you."
Whew! That was that. It was just such a random conversation that I HAD to share. It reminded me how important it is to allow ourselves even as adults to continuously ask questions. And most importantly, to allow ourselves to dedicate our live to finding the answers. I did not answer their questions from a standpoint of total certainty myself. But I did speak with conviction and belief. I love these two so much and I can't wait to have children of my own. I only hope and pray that they and everyone I care about will find the answers they're looking for and have the strength to believe with all of their might in something that means as much to me as my faith.