Conversations with Ellie

Last night as we sat around eating home made pizzas, Ellie continued to affirm her disbelief in God and suggested that maybe she shouldn’t be part of our church.

‘Ok, whatever you reckon sweetheart…’ I responded.

I don’t think she is playing games. I think she genuinely is questioning and I am really interested in what is going on inside of her. As I asked her thoughts on God, life and death etc she spoke quite passionately again while I listened and tried to understand.

I know most people go thru this kind of doubting at some stage, but Fowler would suggest that Ellie is a bit of a way off to be ‘individuating’ her faith. One significant difference between my own childhood faith and hers is that I was much more deeply rooted in a larger church community and my social life revolved largely around it. Ellie has very few Christian peers but plenty from outside the church few of whom would affirm her faith, so I’m sure this fuels her current questioning.

I don’t think this is a problem though. Sooner or later you need to deal with the issues. If we can have these conversations over the next few years then I am sure she will enter teen years with some confidence.

However she is a complex beast… On the one hand she concluded that maybe she didn’t believe in God and therefore belong in church any more, and then five minutes later asked me if she could do the teaching this Sunday.

‘I would love to teach people about Esther dad!’ Esther has been Ellie’s hero for a while now – the ‘brave beauty’!

‘Sure honey – that’d be brilliant’ I said, secretly thinking, I don’t have the energy for this tonight.

Fatboy chirps in with ‘Yeah and I could do Jonah because I know about him!’

As soon as I said ‘yes’ it was like I had launched a juggernaut as this seven year old grabbed all the books we had and started figuring out how she would teach this to the group of adults and kids about her favourite Bible character.

In the next hour we pieced together a time of learning that began with Esther but moved around to various (sometimes completely unrelated) places. But it was her initiative and energy that created it.

So on Sunday Ellie ‘preaches’ to the crew. She will lead and help people learn. I will be there as her backstop, but I’m not sure she will need me…download uncle buck dvd bullitt dvd download

8 thoughts on “Conversations with Ellie

  1. Andrew,

    My own daughter just celebrated her 13th birthday. At 3 years of age, as I was about to commence my nightly prayer kneeling by her bed, she put up her hand, palm in my face, and said, “Dad, stop! I don’t do that anymore.” “Oh really,” I said, “why is that?” “Can you see God?” she asked, without waiting for an answer. “I can’t see God, and I don’t talk to people I can’t see!” With that, she rolled over and faced the wall. From that day on, she has resolutely held to her disbelief, and her skepticism for all things that cannot be explained rationally.

    In the mist of all this, I have often felt my own failure. A minister, a lecturer in spirituality, and my own daughter sees nothing in faith that she can connect with. I see other children, so many of them, who are ‘full of faith’, and I wonder where I went wrong.

    In my better moments, I know that my daughter’s struggle to believe is a healthy thing. She has a good mind and is not shutting it down when it comes to issues of faith. What’s more, she feels as ease enough with me to express what she thinks and feels, knowing that I will listen without judgement or disapproval. She has never stopped talking to me, never held back with her questions, no matter how uncomfortable.

    Some years back she latched on to the word atheist. “That’s what I am!” she said when she heard it. In recent discussion we have talked much about the difference between atheism and agnosticism. At least she feels now she has another option. Not everything is decided. Faith is a process. The conversation continues.

  2. I have 7 children. Some have easily believed in God from the day they could talk. Others have struggled with it like your daughter. We used to think that if we “made” the kids do the right things and exposed them constantly to the truth – then they would believe. Lectures abounded. Religion was dominant. It didn’t work.

    Keeping the communications lines open while openly sharing my own faith and love for our Father has been the only thing that has preserved our relationship. They end up wanting to have a faith like ours. (even if they can’t believe yet). The thing I have learned is that our kids have to run into God and “be converted” all on their own. We can’t make that happen even in our Christian homes. And guess what. He wants to have a run in with them so much that He will chase them down with Love, Grace and Mercy. Instead of praying that I will be able to change their minds I pray that they will run straight into Him and have to deal with His love for them.

  3. Great to hear your own story Simon and Barb.

    Simon – that must be a very challenging situation! I can understand what you mean by a sense of ‘failure’ and yet the joy in seeing your daughter think for herself.

    I sometimes wonder, if I were given the choice between a child with blind passionate faith and a thinking skeptical mind that requires convincing I am not sure which one I would choose.

    I really want my daughter to share faith with me, but I don’t want her to swallow my faith without thinking…

  4. A gal after my own heart! She is connecting to the story and oh what a sweet sweet story He writes upon our hearts from birth till life is done! Seems a paradox doesn’t it – don’t think I should be a part of the church because I do not believe what you believe – yet, I want to share my passion about Esther who has lit a fire within my soul. Hmmm….me thinks we are all such “complex beasts!”

  5. I’m convinced that “pastors” or “leaders” in the church as it’s becoming will be spiritual directors, in the sense of walking alongside people as they discover God for themselves, rather than the folks with all the answers. Not surprising that you find yourself in that role with your daughter. I can see those same conversations coming in my house over the next few years. Look forward to seeing how the story unfolds for Ellie.

  6. Part of the lectionary reading for this week has Jesus saying, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” I’m not sure I believe that very often, though I get glimpses occasionally (you seem to trust it more than most, Hamo). Anyway, my 4 year old is going to lead my little church this week, as a way of living into that belief. She has many imaginary friends, and thinks that Jesus is our imaginary friend. Fair enough I suppose; she can’t see him or hear him, but we talk to him like she talks to her imaginary friends (although we’ve never done Santa or the Easter Bunny for that reason).

  7. I’d love to hear what tack Ellie ends up taking – what particularly speaks to her in this amazing story. I’m speaking to our intergenerational audienceon Esther in a couple of weeks .

    It’s interesting that it’s this book, with no explicit mention of God yet full of him, about someone living out their life for God in an alien situation that continues to captivate her at this point in her journey. I doubt that’s overtly what resonates with her (“brave beauty”, queens, palaces and a strong, active woman at the centre of the story more likely), but still interesting.

    I love love love when kids are such a natural part of church that they expect and are allowed to contribute in such significant ways. What a great way to learn and grow. For the adults too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *