Faith From the Backseat
What scares me: seeing my son’s faith and thinking, What if he gets let down?
We drove around and around the lot, a search in vain for a place to park. My son’s voice from the backseat interrupted my focus: “Wait! Go back! I see—I see a parking spot!” Our car wouldn’t fit because someone had parked over the line, so we kept driving. “We’ll find one,” I said.
Fifteen minutes of searching and I gave up. We could have our outing another time, or we could choose somewhere else to spend our fun; however, my son would have none of quitting.
“Please, God,” came his voice again. “Please help us get a parking spot.”
Sometimes I pray aloud, in careful earshot of my son so he will catch me in communion with God. So I must believe what I say, what I ask for, God will hear too. Why, then, the stomach knot when I hear my little boy’s sweet plea to God? A split second of heart-melt turns to fear that he will later ask, Why didn’t God make it happen?
For sure I don’t want God casting magic spells if my son prays for candy, a live dinosaur, or a toy we won’t buy for him. But some small prayers have big hopes and concerns behind them, such as the time my husband couldn’t find his wallet and I prayed for it because what if it had gotten into the wrong hands?
Don’t I believe God meets us in the inconveniences and leaps with us over the giant hurdles? That he carries our small burdens as well as the crushing weights of our helplessness? I want to encourage my son to go to God for everything—even the parking spaces—but what we encounter is just a smidgen of what God sees and knows. How do I teach my son that God is there even when we don’t see him working? The truth: I still fail to believe it myself. I mean, I say I believe but do I live as if I do?
I rejoiced this year to find that worry faded from my daily mind. Yes, finally, God wiped the worries away! I felt immense relief. But something dark started taking up the space for God. A type of anxiety I had rarely experienced crowded awake moments in the night and day. What’s this? I cried out inside. How did I go from bad to good to worse? I dissected my thoughts and feelings and decided that the dark side hated my freedom and attacked with new fears. I wasn’t prepared. I am not prepared. My faith, that I thought strong because I believed God had stepped in and taken my burdens of worry, wasn’t much there at all.
How could I call it faith—to believe only when it all worked out?
What my son believes about God, I can’t say for sure. His imagination creates monsters in the hallway, ghosts behind the chair, and rockets blasting off in our living room, but he knows it’s all make-believe. One time he asked me, from his car seat, “Is God in the clouds?” I gave the believer’s response that God is everywhere, including in our hearts. “But where’s her house?” he prodded. I thought about, but didn’t say, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). Indeed, where does he live but in us?
On that day of frustrating driving around we did finally find a place to park, and we did go have fun with friends. A little inconvenience had not turned into a problem. “Don’t worry about it,” my son had told me. He gets scared of the dark, people he doesn’t know, and bad dreams, but “don’t worry” is his advice to me when I stress and fuss over tiny details. He trusts, living a child’s faith such as I want to make my own, but he hasn’t faced the world yet. Not really. What will his faith be when he’s grown and in the driver’s seat?
What scares me: Oh God, where is my faith?
Annie Hindman writes from the wilds of Idaho, where she stays home with her four-year-old son. When she can’t answer all of his questions she writes about them, sometimes on her blog at touchingoninfinity.com.