Tuesday, July 7, 2015

When Your Child Doesn't Believe

Last month my kids attended a Vacation Bible Camp with their friends. They were so excited to go! A friend covered all the transportation, and I got to enjoy some precious time alone... so there should have been nothing to worry about, right? Well, yes and no. Everything went willy when my son announced at camp, "I don't know if I believe in God." Ouch.

I wouldn't have known he said anything except for the extra reading material he brought home... and for my friend, who actually works at the church holding the camp and was informed of this "non-believer" news. Except it wasn't news to me. I've known for months my son has questions about God and his faith... or lack there of... even though he's prayed to accept Christ four times... just to be sure. (Bless his heart.) He's 11 and a fifth-grader -- a pivotal year in a child's relationship development with God. He is simply wondering if all the things he learned as a little kid are actually true. I get it!

My husband and I had a choice to make:
  • Freak out. After all, I work for a church and my husband is a team leader. If we can't get our own kid to believe, we must seriously stink at this whole God thing!
  • Hide our faces in shame. One of the pastors at the church inquired about our home life. I just can't even imagine the thoughts that ran through his mind. Can't. Even.
  • Do nothing. No explanation to my friend or the pastor. No conversation with my son.
  • Chastise him. "What's wrong with you? How could you embarrass us?"
  • Be cool. Accept him right where he is, and encourage his questions. (That's what we chose.) 
You see, if we were trying to teach our children about religion, my kids would probably be superstars. We pray daily. We serve together. We go to church weekly. They know all the worship songs... and the hand motions. They have their own Bibles... and actually read them sometimes. My kids know a lot about religion. (If you're thinking "Well whoopie for your perfect little family!," you're right to be completely unimpressed.)

Because religion is not what we're trying to teach. We're trying to teach them about a relationship with Jesus. There's a world of difference between religion and relationship. And relationship isn't something you can force, rush, or choose for someone else. Both kids must decide on their own to pursue and participate in a relationship with Jesus. We've done our part. They must do theirs. And God will do His through the power of His Spirit. 

My friend explained to the pastor about our family and my son's questions. The pastor met with my son (with our permission, encouragement, and prayers) to have a conversation. I am forever thankful to him for making such a personal investment in my child.

For the record, the boy's questions are great ones: "If God is perfect, why did He make me with special needs? If God made me this way so I could encourage others through my challenges, why would I want to follow a God who would make me suffer on purpose? Why did God let my mom have breast cancer? If Jesus loves everyone, why is there hell? If God knew Adam and Eve would sin and bring the whole world to ruin, why did He bother making those idiots? (His words.) And what about dinosaurs?" My son asks questions adults ask every day. I'm proud of him. He is thinking very seriously about his faith. That is a good thing -- not a problem. 

Later that week, my son announced, "I still have questions, but I'm almost there, Mom." Well praise the Lord. But you know what? If he doesn't get there soon, that's okay, too. He will continue to participate with us, and we will continue to shower him with love all along the way... just as God does.

I still have questions of my own. Maybe you do, too. Keep showing up and keep asking!


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13 (My prayer for my kids.)

My medical fund can be found on a YouCaring site. Any small donation is a big blessing. 


  1. Good stuff, and great questions from your son. I've been wrestling with a few myself lately, and I am learning to yield completely and totally to God in all areas of my life, even when things aren't going as I hoped for. It's not always easy, but ultimately I know my life is FAR better with God than without Him!

  2. Em, I love your choice - "Be cool. Accept him right where he is, and encourage his questions."