My 4-year-old daughter sat quietly in the back seat as we drove home from daycare one afternoon. Then suddenly, she turned towards me and asked, “Mommy, why can’t we see God?”
My heart was filled with joy! Oh, yes – an opportunity to discuss faith with my daughter!!
I personally love this particular question. I often compare the presence of God to the wind. Can you see the wind? No… But you see the effects of the wind. It was a windy day, so as I explained this to my young daughter I could point to the rustling leaves in the big trees. “It is like this with God, ” I said. We are not able to see God in the same way we see other people we love – but we see God working, just like the wind moving the trees.
Perfect! She can understand this – what will her follow up questions be?!?
But alas, I noticed with a quick glance in the rear view mirror that her eyes had glazed over. She muttered a short “OK” and I could tell her response was out of obligation. She did not intend to continue the discussion. Big sigh…
Discussing faith with kids can be hard. Questions about dinosaurs, princesses and superheroes are naturally more engaging for kids. This is what their friends talk about at school; these are the things that stimulate their developing minds. And that is OK!! We must engage and encourage curiosity in our children!
Talking about the Bible can be especially difficult when all our kids hear are old stories about people they don’t care about in places that don’t exist in their young minds. So faith and works of God must become real; it must be weaved into everyday life. Where is God at work? How can I see God in my world?
Discussions with our kids about animals and plants, the solar system and weather can evolve into acknowledgement that science and God can co-exist! The more I understand science and how intricate our universe is, the more I believe there must be a God – this could not be designed so perfectly by chance. Let kids be open about questions and feel safe to express confusion. As parents, we must be open with our own stories and struggles, and share those times when we experience God’s presence.
Sometimes the discussion will hit a dead end – like with my daughter in the car. But I know my words were heard, even if she did not appear to be engaged. Sometimes we might think our kids can’t or won’t go deep and they surprise us. I keep a file of writing ideas and by chance came across an old discussion with my son. In an adult study group, we had been asked: “What does God look like?” The grown-ups were inarticulate; we stumbled over words to define “presence” of God as opposed to the physical vision of God.
So later, I posed the question to my son, who was 7 at the time. He said promptly, “Like He’s sitting right next to me.” Stated with child-like simplicity, yet with deeply profound clarity of who God is. The question became less about what God looks like, and more about what closeness to God feels like – hope, peace, purpose!
Perhaps I made it deeper than he intended. Either way, his quick response led to further discussion and my own enhanced personal reflection. Kids are a blessing, and our ability ask questions and foster curiosity is a gift. From experience, I see God’s presence through engagement with my kids. Seeing God is as simple as opening our eyes.