My faith journey has been a long and winding road. You’ve probably heard it before: parents in the ministry, conservative upbringing, youthful devotion, youthful rebellion. Then, a return to faith as a young adult followed by a return to disillusionment as a young adult.
My husband, Mark, used to be a full-time pastor. Today he works elsewhere, and we’ve left the church our family attended for 15 years. We have yet to find another church home. Our regular church attendance has decreased to once or twice a month as we try new communities.
Ten years ago, this current deconstructed religious life would have pummeled me with guilt. But the last decade has sent me through a tunnel of spiritual doubt during which I’ve questioned everything I learned growing up. And I’ve realized that a lot of those questions don’t have very satisfactory answers. The question of Where do we go next Sunday morning? isn’t nearly as important as What do I believe at all anymore?
Today I’m mostly at peace, though. If I’ve reached any kind of grown-up maturity in my faith, it’s reflected in the fact that I worry less about the lack of answers to my questions. I’ve given myself permission to not need to figure it all out.
But kids aren’t quite so comfortable with uncertainty. How do you deal with doubt as a parent? We’ve experienced this over the last few months as our oldest has begun encountering, and asking, a lot of questions. It started with a local VBS with a strong evangelistic focus. After several days of emphasis about the importance of “accepting Jesus into his heart,” he came home wondering if he was really a Christian.
Another time he went to a youth group event at a nearby megachurch, where they talked about the importance of prayer. The speaker told the kids how Christians’ thoughts should always be on God and how we should pray constantly. Look, he’s 10 years old. He thinks a lot about Minecraft and skateboarding. “I don’t think about God all the time,” he told us that night. “Maybe I’m not really a Christian.” Oof.
How did we respond? How do we, as doubters, deal with our kids’ questions about faith?
We identify with him. Rather than freaking out about his religious confusion, we acknowledge that questioning is part of being human. I believe Mark’s response to our son’s concerns about his thought life was, literally, “That’s okay, dude. We’re just like you.” This can be tough—part of me wants to maintain my authority-figure status by providing pat answers to all his questions. But that would be dishonest. I don’t havethose answers. They need to know that everyone doubts, including moms and dads.
Read the rest at Sparkhouse.