Monday, June 17, 2013

The fear of things not seen

Psalm 29:7 (NIV)

The voice of the Lord strikes
   with flashes of lightning.
Max has long been terrified of thunderstorms, and lately Charlie’s decided he doesn’t like thunder either. Charlie also was scared of a fly trapped inside our van yesterday, so it’s tough to guess what will trip his trigger. Max spent quite some time trying to convince Charlie flies are not dangerous, explaining the don’t bite and aren’t poisonous. But when I asked Max to tell Charlie why thunder isn’t scary, the chatter stopped cold.

Thunder comes with rainstorms, Max explained. And so does lightning. But thunder is the sound of a meteor hitting the Earth. Excuse me? I’ve heard him recount this before, and I tried to talk him out of it to no avail. For some reason I could handle a completely baseless story (such as thunder being the sound of angels bowling), but it bothers me for him to think meteors cause thunder and not lightning.

I’m sure he’ll grow out of this as soon as he gets taught correctly in school. He’ll believe me when I say meteors do hit Earth on occasion, but that’s in no way related to the sounds he hears during a storm. And even if he understands where thunder truly originates, he may still be scared of the noise. But I’m in my 30s and am still scared of certain things that have no mystery. Knowing doesn’t always make such things less frightening.

This all comes to mind because Max recently asked about Heaven. It came up while reading one of his VeggieTales devotionals. He asked if Heaven is on Earth, and I said no. He then wanted to know where Heaven actually is located. I dropped my patented “It’s kind of hard to explain” response, which gained little ground, so I followed with what I believe to be true: God knows and we don’t. He liked the idea of God being in Heaven, and he doesn’t seem to mind not having a more concrete response.

Questions about the way the world works, not to mention issues of the great beyond, continually vex me, and it’s because I don’t like lying to my children. I don’t have a problem giving a simple explanation (when Jack was little, I told him the sun each night went from shining over us to shining over California), and I have been accused of trying to give too much science to a kid who can’t possibly take in the information. This, of course, is amusing because my own scientific knowledge doesn’t much eclipse what I learned in high school.

Then there’s the whole matter of where babies come from, which I worried would be more of an issue given we keep having them, but so far the questions haven’t come, or the answers (honest, but not leading or graphic) haven’t led to deeper queries. Maybe we should have been doing more teaching along the way, but it never seemed quite right, so we haven’t yet tried. As in all things, I’m just hoping for God to guide me along the way.

A prayer for June 17:

Lord, grant me wisdom when speaking with my children. Help me listen sincerely to the questions they ask and give them the answers they need, not just what I think they want to hear. Give me the strength to be honest with them and the patience to withstand their honesty with me. And may our communications with each other be based entirely in love. Amen.

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