I’m as surprised as you are that I’m writing about God. As Dylan would say, “Awkwaaaaaard.” I feel as qualified to talk about God as I do quantum physics or Minecraft mods. What the heck is a mod, anyway? I don’t even know if it’s appropriate to write God or if I’m supposed to write G-d. The whole thing makes me as uncomfortable as watching “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” I’m going to stick with the “o” over the dash here, because the dash makes me feel even more anxious, if that’s possible.
I believe in an energy that runs through the universe and that if I’m lucky or fortunate or grateful enough, I can tap into it to feel something larger than myself, but I don’t know if that means I believe in God.
I send prayers to friends and family who are grieving or ill, I whisper a prayer for safe travels every time I get on and off an airplane, and I see my beloved Harry in rainbows and sunsets, but I don’t know if that means I believe in God.
Years ago, a gust of wind knocked me off of my feet after my Great Aunt Glenna died. I felt her presence so fiercely that I lost my breath, but I don’t know if that means I believe in God.
I don’t know why I can’t just say that I do or that I don’t believe in God. Whichever it is, a concrete answer would be a lot easier to live with than the perpetual questioning to which I subject myself. But, I can’t. I simply don’t have an answer, so God and I have an unwritten agreement to keep a safe distance from one another. We avoid eye contact, we’re not friends on Facebook, and we let calls go to straight to voicemail, but regardless of our efforts, something keeps bringing us together.
It’s not motherhood per se. Becoming a mother didn’t sway me one way or the other, although I totally get how it could. I mean, I grew a human being inside of my body! Twice! My molar pregnancy didn’t squash or boost my faith either. It just made me angry and sad. A decade later, it’s a wash. I’ve experienced the devastation of loss and the miracle of life, and I’m still on the fence.
It’s my kids. My children have natural and independent inclinations toward God and the unknown that have nothing to do with me (that I’m aware of). I have parented them the same. I have given them the same foundation of values. I have provided them with the same education. Yet, Dylan questions everything. He’s fascinated with death and insanely inquisitive about the afterlife, so much so that I sometimes wonder if maybe he’s been here (or there?) before. Whereas some kids ask “Why?” on a permanent loop, Dylan’s go-to question is, “What happens after we die?”
Riley, on the other hand, plainly and beautifully accepts God as true. “God is everywhere,” he once told me once while nibbling on Goldfish crackers in the car. “God is in my Goldfish,” he said munching away. How could I argue with that? It was a lovely sentiment, especially considering how many Goldfish cracker crumbs were on the floor of the backseat of my car.
Another time, Dylan asked, “Who makes shoes?”
Riley said, “God makes shoes.”
“Actually,” I piped in, “people make shoes,” to which Riley concluded, “God makes all the things that people don’t know how to make.”
These conversations happened when the boys were much younger, but I remember them clearly – in fact, I wrote them down – because I never want to forget the authentic and easygoing relationship they have with God. I remain as confused as ever, but my kids and their unabashed honesty – about their certainty or their doubt – have taught me to appreciate my spiritual journey more and worry about my spiritual destination less.
I no longer cower from or cringe over my boys’ questions about life and death and everything in between. I welcome the opportunity to engage their curiosity and confront my own hesitancy. When Riley says, “God is in my heart,” I’m comforted by his faith (how ever long it lasts), and I’m equally reassured by Dylan’s courage to question it all.
Not long ago, Riley and I did an art challenge after dinner. In an art challenge, we choose a theme and then we each draw a picture. When we’re done, Dylan or Dad picks a winner. (Exciting stuff, I know. At least it’s not Minecraft!) That night, I drew a bird per Riley’s instruction and he drew a truck per his whim.
Several minutes into our battle, he said, “I think I’m going to win.”
“Why is that?” I asked as I feverishly drew a bird with colorful feathers surrounded by fall foliage.
“Because God is in the picture,” he said.
“God is in your picture?” I asked peeking over.
“He’s building a house,” Riley explained.
Indeed, God was building a house in the sky above the truck, Best Buy, and “Targit.”
My little feathered friend and I were totally screwed, because you can’t win an art challenge if your opponent has God in his picture. Still, I felt triumphant because, thanks to my kids, God is in my picture, too.
Not that picture. ↑
This picture. ↓
6 responses to “God Is In The Picture”
Beautiful piece, friend…
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Thank you, Katherine! Some essays are extra special and this was definitely one of them. I’ve been thinking about it (God) for a long while, and I’m so glad Riley drew that picture because it helped me understand that indecision is a valid choice. It also reminded me how unique and extraordinary my kids are! They are my teachers, that’s for sure. Thanks for reading!!
This really resonated with me. It puts words to how I feel about God too. Nice piece.
Thank you, Courtenay. I’ve had this one in my head for a long time. When Riley drew that picture, it all finally came together. It felt good to write it and published it, which is not always the case!
I am crying. This is so lovely. Thank you.
This is an amazing piece. I have been working on one about God as well. Such a confusing and difficult thing especially when you have children.