My 16-year-old son was home from school with a chest infection. I walked in on him watching a Netflix documentary called The God Delusion. There is a class in school that is challenging his faith.
I had other things planned to do that day, but I plunked myself down to watch with him.
“The kids in my class were saying that depending on God must mean a person is weak and they may have a psychological disorder,” my son said and told me how self-conscious he felt as the only known Christian in the room.
“Could they be right, Mom?” His sincerity was palatable.
When your child is questioning the faith they have been raised with, it is hard to not take it as a personal affront.
A part of me wants to say, “Don’t you trust me? Do you think your dad and I have steered you wrong?” But instead, I tell him that I am trusting God to lead him to truth.
My son has been raised to follow and trust Jesus, and at a young age, he made a personal profession of faith. When a child has never known anything other than this, there will come a time when he will compare it with what he sees in the outside world. He will inevitably walk the path where there will be a needful transition from his family of origin’s faith to, what I hope will be, a grounded faith that is totally his own.
He often wants to talk about faith at the most inconvenient times, like late at night when I am exhausted and just want to go to bed. I make myself a cup of tea and remind myself if I blow him off, he will take his questions to others.
If I am truly proud of him for becoming a thinking individual, then I must be willing to engage in this conversation no matter whether I am feeling it or not.
In the past few months, there have been moments he has come off as cocky and cynical when questioning what we have taught him as truth. It can be difficult to not become frustrated, but I believe God’s Spirit has taught my husband and me the wisdom behind a soft answer and a dump truck load of grace.
“Would you love me if I rejected Christianity?” he asked one time.
“There is not a thing you could do, think, or believe that would keep me from loving you,” was my reply and his eyes got teary. No matter where this path leads, he must know he is loved unconditionally because that is what God’s love looks like.
While watching the documentary that day, we must have paused it seven or eight times to talk about what was presented in it. I asked questions, and I listened to what he was thinking. I encouraged him to contemplate the difference between trusting the ideas of humans and the promises of God.
Watching your child struggle with faith feels very much like watching them walk along the edge of a cliff on a windy day.
It is terrifying and requires patience. I know I need to lean hard into my Heavenly Father and show my son what God’s love looks like every chance I get. Even though he would not admit it, he is still looking for us to show him Jesus. So, I will keep praying and keep showing up for this boy, to wade through his questions and doubts with him.