In May FDW is hosting a new series on stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. Click here for more on the series and a list of the contributors. This post was written by Brenna D’Ambrosio.
When you have kids later than your friends, it is possible to lull yourself into a false sense that you will know what you are doing. You will have the ability to quietly, and let me assure you oh so graciously, armchair quarterback their parenting, believing you will be able to avoid all their pitfalls and lead your own children down the primrose path of enlightenment. You will also keep a tally of all the amazing things they do and list them on a mental to do list for when you have your own. Ask me how I know.
Honestly, I knew parenting would be hard. I knew it would both bring me great joy and regularly rip my heart out. I knew I would be challenged daily. But as a former children’s minister, I was confident knowing the one area I would be strong in was raising my children to love God. The idea of dealing with scraped knees, broken bones, and broken hearts might have left me holding my breath, but telling my children about the Bible and the love of their Heavenly Father was a piece of cake.
And when they were little, it was.
I would hold their small bodies, wrapped snuggly in pieces of soft, well-worn flannel cloth and rock them singing softly all about how much they are loved by Jesus. At night I’d play quiet worship music in hopes of encouraging peaceful dreams. Shelves of oft read books about Jesus and the heroes of the Bible helped give them even as babies a foundation. Deuteronomy 6 was my guide and I would help shape their hearts and prepare a space for them to make their own choices.
But then they get bigger. Older. And they start asking questions nonstop. Singing “Jesus Loves Me” wasn’t enough. All the parenting books I had read meant nothing and I started scanning Amazon hoping there was a book called “Trinitarian Theology for Toddlers,” because man, these kids were getting pretty specific in all of their questioning and my years of theological training were buckling under the pressure of five year olds. Omnipresence. Good and Evil. Suffering. All I want is for them to be so secure in God’s love so they will never feel empty, and they want to know why and what and how.
We drove down our city street. Stop and go was more stop than go as the streets became slick with the afternoon rain that was falling. “Mom?” She asked, interrupting the sound of the windshield wipers. “Is God making it rain?”
Cue the panic.
If God is making the rain, then God makes the thunderstorms. If God makes thunderstorms, God makes hurricanes and tornadoes and monsoons and earthquakes. If God makes the natural disasters and God is in control then God designed the natural disasters. And why did God choose for an earthquake to hit Nepal? Did He will it or just allow it? If God causes all of this and chooses it, why them and not us? Is it because of sin? Are we next? If I tell my girls God made it rain am I unintentionally raising them to be fatalistic and lacking in grace? Will they still see God as loving, kind, and compassionate, or will they spend their lives trying to be good so they won’t fall out of favor? If I say God made it rain have I now completely shifted their theology? Why is this so complicated?!
“Well, girls,” after the longest pause in parenting history, “when God made the world He designed it in such an amazing way that we have weather patterns. It means the air is saturated with water. Today, because of all the great things going on in the atmosphere, we have rain.”
“So…..God DID make it rain?”
“Yes, loves. God made it rain.” As those words escaped my lips I realized God’s love was still just as thick in the car as it was five minutes earlier. And suddenly, it is not as complicated as I thought.
Brenna D’Ambrosio is a former children’s minister and preschool teacher and is now a homeschooling momma to three feisty girls who spend their days balanced between ballet and Star Wars. She spends her time volunteering at her church, writing, teaching her girls, baking bread, drinking Coke Zero, and watching Sherlock. You can find her at brennadambrosio.com where she blogs on the subjects of faith, brokenness and redemption, city-living, and Christian feminism, on Twitter @BrennaJD and on Facebook here.