Yesterday was a difficult day. Mike’s grandfather passed away. It has been a difficult year for his health and while it is never easy to say goodbye to the ones we love, there is comfort in knowing his pain and discomfort is washed away. Yet even still, it was a difficult day – to wrap your head around death, to make decisions about travel arrangements for the funeral, to push away the guilt about not being enough. All of this is tough.
And then to explain to a little one that Grandpa D has died, that we no longer need to pray for God to be with him, because, in fact, he is now with God. Those conversations are tough, but necessary. And of course, they bring questions, as they should. “So how did Grandpa D get up to God?” And after the body-on-earth-soul-to-heaven response, Mike said “But honestly, I don’t really know what happens, Caroline. What do you think?”
This is my favorite way of answering faith filled questions, or any curiosity for that matter. It is rare that a child doesn’t have an answer of their own. How often we find ourselves needing to have all of the answers to our children’s deepest questions, particularly those surrounding faith and practice. Scientific questions are easy. Google it. But faith, that can be tricky. I’m not saying every answer should be left up to individual interpretation. Obviously there are fundamental beliefs we can declare boldly to our children when teaching them. But some things, God reminded us, must be taken on faith. This was tricky for Thomas, as it is for many of us.
“I think he floated up to God on a cloud.” Caroline answered without skipping a beat. I like that answer. I like her boldness. I like her faith. It makes just as good sense as any I could come up with. It is enough for her so it is enough for me.
I have mentioned a few conversations we have had with Caroline about faith. I don’t make it a “big thing” in this writing space because my faith is such an interweaving part of my life. It isn’t separate from my parenting or my leadership or my self-discovery. It is simply who I am. My faith is the undercurrent of my life, the beating of my heart. I try to make it the light to my path and when it isn’t, I am often rerouted appropriately once I can remind myself to get back to my faith, my core belief, and how it can steer me through life.
I am honored today to share writing contributions on this very subject, Faith and Family, in the new debut of The Living Lutheran magazine. Formerly The Lutheran magazine, this publication has rebranded beginning this month maintaining the same focus on sharing the news, stories, and reflections of the Evangelical Lutheran Church America (ELCA) while drawing greater attention to how faith is lived out in our families, communities, and beyond. I love this new focus on “Living.” I believe it is strong statement that gets to the heart of a faithful life, Living it out. I hope to share helpful insights into life with children and how faith can play a part in in our family’s Living. This month is all about empathy and how to encourage your child to learn from their own emotions to help understand the emotions of others, an idea I first talked about here in this post about kindness.
Follow along on the blog with the Living Lutheran online here, read this month’s debut issue today, and be sure to check out the Faith and Family section for responses, devotions, and prayers to bringing faith into your family’s everyday life.
It is a new challenge for me to put my writing in a public realm, but God calls us to do hard things. It’s quite possible I will be looking to Caroline’s bold faith as my example.
And to Grandpa D, may you be holding all of the babies in heaven in the same loving and gentle way you held mine. May you be making all of the angels laugh with your cheesy Grandpa jokes. And may you feel strong and healthy and full of life forever at home with God.