As I’ve talked to other parents going through various kinds of faith shifts or deconstructions or just changes in perspective, we often muse on how our kids are not okay with this murky grey. Kids like a good answer. They want to know whether something is real or fake. True or false. Good or bad. Yummy or yucky.
But as more things venture in to yummy vs. yucky territory (and out of true vs. false), it’s difficult to give them satisfying answers. The more times I have to answer, “I don’t know,” the more I’m worried they will think I don’t know ANYTHING and lose trust in me.
Adults who grew up without certainty, or whose parents didn’t give them clean easy answers, confirm that it can be frustrating, but that ultimately it didn’t make their parents feel less trustworthy. Honest was a worthy substitute for authoritative. Some would probably argue that honesty is always preferable to authority, or that honesty is prerequisite for authority. That may very well be, but kids do thrive with boundaries and competency where we can give it. Where we can give them something it’s good to give them something.
So when I can’t give my kids the kind of answer they want, the binary yes or no kind of answer, I still give them an answer. I give them a grey uncertainty or a yucky vs yummy answer attached to the certainty of my love for them, of God’s love for them.
I don’t know if Jonah was actually swallowed by a fish, but God absolutely loved him and wanted him to fulfill his purpose.
I don’t know why God let COVID happen, but I do know that we are not alone, and God is not going to leave us when we are sick or afraid.
For ourselves and our kids, we’ve started to recognize that shifting and evolving means finding answers without holding onto them too tightly. The possibility of evolving tomorrow doesn’t negate where we are today. We’ve found that answers can be seasonal, or transformative moving us along.