In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” The innocence of childhood can reveal the type of heart that we are all supposed to have as we approach Jesus. In this new blog series, we will be noticing and celebrating how we see God working in our kids, and perhaps even learning more about how our walk with Christ should look.
By Mary Lekoshere
I remember when it really hit me, several years into parenting, that theology didn’t cross the placenta. Here I was, a 30-something woman, who’d known Jesus nearly that long, been raised in church, saturated with the Word, and grown in and wrestled with my own understanding of theology. And non of this automatically translated to my offspring. Not that they aren’t affected by it—of course they are. I think children’s hearts are tender towards faith, and our lives influence them from the start. But all those facts and conclusions and things that came to us with difficulty—we feel like we need to get them there, so we start off doing just that. However, a five year old’s processing isn’t quite the same as a 35 year old’s processing, as we get glimpses of in the things that come out of our children’s mouths.
As a professional mother, I run my own lecture circuit, otherwise known as Waxing Eloquent in the Minivan.
The kids can be described as nothing less than a captive audience. During one such occasion, I gave a lesson on Financial Stewardship.
“Because ultimately, where does our money come from?” (correct answer: God)
Wilder (age 5): “Credit cards.”
Let alone their interpretation of Things Not Seen, their understanding of Things Seen goes awry pretty quickly. Being raised in a mixed race family, they might happily proclaim the random man in Walmart to be “Daddy!” when I, Mommy, have definitely never laid eyes on this person before. Or, as Wilder just asked his choir teacher who was clad in tights, “Why are you white but your legs are black?” Or, the three boys sitting together on the bed, and one of them marvels that they all have the same skin color! (matching! who knew!)
Then you have the trouble of children being quite literal.
Ivor age 4, at Christmas: “That’s kinda stupid, cause that girl said ‘Santa baby’ and Santa’s not even a baby.’”
Or when Daddy took them out for ice-cream while I was finishing up at Target. A customer walked by and remarked to my husband, “You have a beautiful family!”
“Oh thank you,” said Sawaya.
“You don’t know what my mom looks like,” said Wilder.
Sometimes you overhear their little thoughts when they talk to each other. Like the Glass-Half-Full remark of a 5-year-old Wilder that, “When Mom is dead and Dad is dead, we can watch shows all day.”
And Kingston told me of a conversation with Wilder who expressed confusion why they went to school and worked so hard and weren’t paid any money for it.
Processing the spiritual, therefore, is no different.
You teach them concepts, probably over their heads, and then hear them come out later maybe just a little bit sideways. My kids coining the phrase, “Satan brain,” for instance. Ok. I can see where you’re going with that.
Ivor, a bold age 4, was disgruntled that Wilder was crowding his space on the lower bunk, so naturally he began to prophesy.
“God is talking to Wilder in his head, and God is saying that he has to sleep in the bunk bed.”
There was that time when Wilder made Ivor mad by saying he was a bad boy, an unkind thing he’d started doing.
Me: “Wilder, why did you say he was a bad boy?”
Wilder: “Cause my brain got a little wicked for a second.”
Hey, at least he called it.
I personally believe that God must delight in this child-like budding faith, with all their little misconstructions and spiritual typos. After all, skewed theology is way cuter in kids than in adults. It’s a comfort to me to remember that their Creator loves them even more than I do, and is pursuing them. He’s using me and my flawed life and flawed teachings to bring the little children to himself. For of such is the kingdom.