Faith, fear, and Yoda
My ex came and visited the kids last night while I was out with a friend and my brother was watching them. This is a pretty major event since the last time she saw them was back in April – about six months ago. She has been promising them she would visit all that time. Setting up times, then calling at the last minute and canceling over and over again. I didn’t have much reason to believe this time was going to be different, or I might have stayed home just to make sure everything was all right. (And to protect my valuables.) Well, apparently it was a quick visit, and the only thing she took was a framed photo collection. The boys seemed fine this morning, which was a major relief to me, since her calls generally cause them to behave badly for a day or two afterward. But I just got two emails from school saying my oldest is having a very bad day. He was kicking a little girl for not sharing her fruit snacks and calling her stupid. (Could there be a connection to the fact that my ex used to kick me and call me stupid in front of him?) But more disturbingly, his teacher reported that he was not following directions in music class, and when asked why he said, “He damned me to do it.” The teacher asked him to repeat it so he could clarify, and Justin just kept repeating that line over and over. [Edit] I just picked up Justin from school to take him to his councilor for an emergency meeting. I asked him about this thing he said, and he told me the line was, “He dared me to do it.” A kid was daring him to yell “Ninja” over and over. With his speech delay damned and dared actually sound almost identical. So I am buying his story.] Another hopefully unrelated weirdness I experienced was waking up at 4 in the morning to the sound of Justin peeing into a laundry basket. (I’m guessing he was sleep walking based on the blank stare and lack of verbal response.) There is nothing quite as fun as cleaning urine out of laundry baskets at 4 in the morning! But now I’m freaked out and thinking about The Exorcist and such. I’m pretty skeptical about all those demon possession stories and the elaborate rituals that are related in pop culture. I’m guessing a lot of cases of demon possession are mental disorders, but I could be wrong. I do believe every story about it in the Bible. But none of those stories have long sessions with holy water, crucifixes, etc. Jesus just said, “Get out.” And the spirits fled. Other examples in the Bible show that you have to have faith in Christ for an exorcism to work. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t see a demon behind every bush. I’m not the jumpy type. But I do believe that spirits hang around those who are putting themselves in certain states of mind. And I’m pretty sure my ex has been in one of those states for a couple of years now. So I’m a bit concerned that the spirit in or around her my brush off on the boys when she talks to them and visits.
But anyway… The fear I feel for the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of my children has caused me to realize something about my faith. It has been easy for me to assume I have strong faith based on my lack of fear for my own life. I’m really not worried about my own future that much. I know God has a plan for my life and it will be accomplished. Or do I? … Dunt, duh, duuuuun! When I try to apply that same line to the lives of my children the platitude melts away and I realize that I am afraid for them. Then I have to ask myself why I’m afraid for them but not for myself. Well there are a few obvious ones. Growing up with a single dad and a distant, dysfunctional mom is not the ideal. So they will have a set-back to start with. But shouldn’t faith be faith? And by that I mean; if I can say I believe God will guide and protect me in the amount I need, shouldn’t it follow that He will do the same for them in the very large amount they will need? … So I’m seeing two flaws in my thinking now. First, why am I thinking my sons need more than I do from God. Every atom in our body is kept in movement by His hand. Every breath is allowed by His good grace. Just because I perceive from a human perspective that they are going to need more help than me doesn’t make that the case. But the biggest revelation my analysis of this discrepancy has shown me is that I really don’t have much faith at all. If I can’t apply it to a situation that seems bigger to me, then was it real to begin with? It’s like when Luke Skywalker was able to make rocks levitate, but he couldn’t get his ship out of the swamp. Of course, if Yoda could have applied the same logic of “Size matters not”, he could have crushed the Death Star in his little rubber paw. But that’s beside the point.
I think the problem is that when I say I trust that God will take care of me, I mean He will do it at least just enough. In other words, I may go through hell, but I figure I can handle it. I don’t buy into the prosperity gospel so many of my evangelical brethren like. I’m more along the Mother Theresa line of thinking. I believe she indicated that suffering was good. Of course you have to take that sentiment in context. I’m not a sadist. But there seems to be a universal law that maturity only comes through struggle. Since this life we are living now is only a tiny part of the equation, and God wants us to be in perfect communion with Him after this life; it would follow that He wouldn’t put a lot of stock in our physical or financial welfare. He would care about our spiritual state. And that state only progresses with fire. So am I saying we should be miserable all the time? Just look at those people in the Bible who suffered immensely for the gospel. They sang in prison. Christians should be the happiest people in the world no matter what they are going through. (I mean in general. Not every second of the day. We should mourn when a loved one dies and such.) Crap should happen to us all the time, and we should respond in the godliest manner possible. This is the best witness we can display.
So anyway, back to my point... I think that model of painful progression works fine for me. But I don’t want that for my children. Why would that be?