"Yes Mommy, There is a God."
- Thursday, January 16, 2003
I love being a parent. Having children is something I have wanted since I was a child. My mother tells me that when I was as young as 5, I talked about "my babies," their names, features, etc.
These three daughters of mine are by far the best thing I have ever done and raising them to be decent, compassionate, loving, caring, socially conscious human beings is by far the greatest task I shall ever face and accomplishment I can ever hope to achieve. I am doing a good job. I know this because I am regularly faced with the part of parenting that I hate, that of not having adequate answers.
A prime example: When Turkey was rocked by a devastating earthquake several years ago, I watched the news with my oldest daughter, explaining in child-ese what the reporters were relating from the scene.
Having survived a hurricane as a baby, she is always fascinated by natural disasters and even at the tender age of 7 had a deep respect for Mother Nature. She asked if the buildings looked the same after the hurricane as they did on CNN in Turkey. I told her that they did. She wondered out loud if the Red Cross was going to help them the way they had arrived to help us. I assured her they were on their way.
She then turned her huge blue eyes to me and asked how God could let so many people be hurt and killed. My silence frightened us both and she then asked if there really is a God.
There is no manual, textbook or class to prepare you for the questions that the open, innocent, answer-needing child can ask. This is especially true when you find yourself pondering questions about philosophy and theology.
I was gifted with a strong foundation and belief system as a child. But I also grew up thinking about Him mainly on Sunday mornings when my parents would drag my siblings and I to church. Like many, I have also been guilty of turning to God in times of need and strife, starting too many prayers with, "Please God... ."
With my children, I have attempted to correct this. To the extent they can understand, we talk about Him, they thank Him for beautiful sunsets and wonder out loud how He makes such amazing colors. He is not someone who is just there when you are down, He is the first one there when you are up. The girls recognize Him as a constant presence, not just the prelude to the Sunday trip to Krispy Kreme for donuts.
So how did I answer her question? Well, I did my best to explain that God is indeed there. That it is not a matter of Him allowing something terrible to happen. Yes, babies and children and mommies and daddies died, but He was there to guide them to Heaven. He was there with the warmest safest hug a person will ever receive. He is still there watching over the survivors, just as He was watching over her after her hurricane.
I could tell by her expression and silence that she just was not sure and like all of us from time to time, she needed something more tangible. Something she could see. I found myself starting yet another prayer with, "Please God... ," however this one was not for a good test score or healthy baby, this was for help in reassuring my daughter.
My prayer was answered as we watched a CNN update; my eyes filled with tears as they showed a 4-year-old boy being pulled from the devastation. Emaciated, yes. Dehydrated, yes. But six days after that tragedy, alive.
As a parent, my tears were for this poor child, his suffering and his loss. However, my tears were also because it was far too easy to see my own young children in his frightened, innocent eyes, even half way around the world.
The reporter then used the word miracle. My daughter looked at me and asked, "Only God can do a miracle, right?" I nodded. She smiled and hugged me and as my tears fell into her hair, she whispered, "See Mommy? There really is a God."
I love being a parent.
Linda Sharp is an internationally recognized humorist who writes regularly on the joyous and frustrating world of parenting. She is also creator of the totally irreverent and hysterical website, Sanity Central - A Time Out from Parenting. Her latest book, Stretchmarks On My Sanity: The Growing Pains of Raising a Family, has earned her rave reviews and comparisons to the late Erma Bombeck. As a mother of three children (four if you count her husband), she firmly believes that laughter IS the best medicine. Lighten up your load and visit www.sanitycentral.com
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