Last month, my family and I made a trip out west—part for business and part to visit my husband’s family. We flew into Phoenix, drove to Tucson for the diocesan conference there, drove back to Phoenix (Chandler, really) for our nephew’s Baptism at St. Andrew’s, drove to LA for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, then drove back to Chandler for a few days of visiting with family before heading home. It was a lot of fun, but it was also exhausting. I have many great memories from our trip, but I’d like to tell you about one that I will probably remember for years and years to come.
We were heading back to my brother-in-law’s house after a rodeo one night. Out of the blue, my son started asking all kinds of questions about God. “Does God make us be good?” he asked. Wow. How do you explain free will to a five-year-old?
“No, he doesn’t make us be good. He wants us to be good. It makes him smile when we are loving, caring, and kind, but he doesn’t make us be that way.”
“Does God make bad people, too?” he asked.
“No, God makes all people, but they can choose to do bad things. They choose to be unkind and unloving, and that makes God sad.”
“Did God make Lady Gaga?” I smiled when he asked this. He had only heard of Lady Gaga a week ago, and I was pretty sure he didn’t really know anything about her.
“Yes, God made Lady Gaga. Although God may not always be happy about some of the choices she makes, God did make her and loves her. Just like God loves you, even if you make a mistake or a bad choice.”
“Oh. You mean like you and Daddy?”
I smiled again. “Yes, just like me and Daddy. Even when you misbehave, we still love you very much. And so does God, even when you are mean or unloving.”
“I want to be a good boy, Mommy.”
As a parent, I love that my son asks these questions. He’s really thinking about things and it’s good to know that he listens to at least some of what I tell him. On the other hand, it can be hard to find the right words to describe certain elements of our faith—like the concept of free will—to a five-year-old. Yet, even though I struggle sometimes, I know that it helps me grow in my faith, too, when I have to think through how to answer his questions. I am glad we can learn from each other.
What faith questions have your children asked recently? How did you answer them?