The Reason Children Can’t Be Trusted With Theology

Explaining God to my kids requires a lot of words.

I think that’s probably because I’m trying to explain God to myself at the same time.

As far as I can tell, people use more words the less they understand something.

That’s OK, though. That’s what words are for. To help us shape our understanding.

But sometimes I watch people use SO MANY WORDS that all I hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wah wah, wah wah, wah wah.

I was driving my five-year-old boys home from karate practice yesterday, and they asked about God. All of our very best conversations about God happen in our trash-riddled minivan to the sound of goldfish crackers dying as they’re crushed by cheap, broken tennis shoes or smothered in stained seats by tiny kid bottoms.

“Mom?” asked Cai. “You know how God and Jesus are the same?”

Sometimes teachable moments rush past me before I realize they’re in the room.

But sometimes, I bring my parenting A game, and I look that teachable moment in the eye. I can tell by its twitching that it’s about to escape. As it makes its move, though, my burst of speed is blinding. I catch the scruff of that moment’s neck and I hold it aloft. “Ah HA!” I yell in triumph. “I’ve got you now!”

I think this is an excellent place to tell you that my response to Cai was brilliant. I was articulate. I was THOROUGH. I took my college degree in history and religion, and I brought it, y’all, to the God-is-the-same-as-Jesus throwdown.

I talked about the Doctrine of the Trinity. I talked about the Distinct Persons of God. I talked about a unified whole.

“Wah wah, wah wah, wah wah,” I said. With conviction!

When I wrapped up, Cai sweetly encouraged me. “I don’t understand any of that,” he said. “That makes no sense.”

“No sense? No sense?!” I said, incredulously, as though I’ve never met my unappreciative audience. “Tell me, Cai, what makes more sense?”

Since he’s not very good at recognizing sarcasm, he answered me.

“It’s like this. There’s God and there’s Jesus. Just like there’s Kate and there’s Katia. …

(Kate and Katia)

“… she’s all the same girl, Mom. And it’s not important the names. Just that we love each other.”

And this is exactly why children can’t be trusted with theology, you guys.

They leave no room for the wah-wah’s.

And they think it all comes down to love.

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
15 comments
  1. […] a sometime Rule Breaker, perpetual Questioner, and committed Love Follower — and especially as someone who’s more interested in the grimy, gorgeous reality than […]

  2. I keep having to tell my husband of his “conversations” with our kids, “too many words, honey, TOO MANY WORDS!!”

    1. Ha! I keep having to tell ME that. 😉

  3. We certainly learn Truth in the simplicity of words!

    Perhaps you and Cai would be willing to give a message for NV.

    1. Cai would ROCK a sermon. Let him at a mic. 😉

      Unfortunately, I seem to talk things to death. So my kids will tell you I’m not a good bet.

  4. And so it is. Those babes and the things that come out of their mouths…sweet, innocent, brilliance. You’re a good mama, Beth! Enjoy your babes and the weekend!

  5. I LOVE it! Thanks so much. I’m sure you reassured that brilliant little man just how right he is. 😉

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! And thanks for sharing it via Twitter, too… I caught your message, and it means a lot to me that you’re willing to share it. xoxo

  6. Perfect. And Kate (and Katia) is beautiful, too!

    1. RIGHT? That kid slays me. And she knows it. And she uses her power to manipulate me into giving her lots of snacks. And someday she will rule the world. And we will all be glad to follow.

      If you search my blog by “Kate” you will find a couple of completely worthwhile pieces, if I do say so myself.

  7. Beth – I think your blog is so enjoyable to read and is a pleasure in my day. i reccomend you to my aunts blog ” http://www.itsspelledcaitlin.blogspot.com ” she has two little boys and # 3 is in the oven. her blog is the same kind of friendly funnyness i get from reading you. The only difference is that she thinks 2.25 kids is a lot of kids! hahaha. 🙂 Thanks again,

    Brenna

    1. I TOTALLY read your aunt’s blog, Brenna, and I love you to infinity for suggesting her. Caitlin is hilarious, and I’m honored you’d link our funny together! Also – she’s 1000% right that 2.25 kids is a lot of kids. 😉

      You’re the best.

  8. Luke 18:17 😉 We could learn a lot from our little ones

    1. I’m just going to follow my kids around. Theologically and otherwise. They’re smarter, kinder and more well-rounded than me anyway (minus the “rounded” part – I’ve got that nailed)… I might as well admit it. 😉

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