The Big Questions

I think it happens to every parent. One day you are sitting at dinner and out of the clear blue your child asks you a big question. At our house, it started with, what does UMC stand for? How is that different from my friend’s church? Are Jewish people Christian? Do people from other religions go to heaven?

As if that wasn’t enough, this led to a barrage of science questions. What do you mean “big bang?” The universe is expanding? What will happen to us? Hey, wait a minute, if God started the universe, where did God come from?

I have already have similar questions from kids at church. Each time, I get a little feeling of panic (that’s normal, right parents?). But, I have decided that the best approach for me is to take a deep breath and answer as honestly as I can. I make it clear what my position is and I also try to present the other sides of the issues as best as I can. The UMC website is a great resource if you can’t quite remember the details you may have learned back in confirmation.

I think that most of us have big questions and that we will wrestle with them most of our lives. I also believe that the process of wrestling with beliefs is a good thing. Struggling produces deeper faith. Rote answers that don’t acknowledge the complexity of the universe may answer the question in the short-term, but are not as effective at promoting  faith for a lifetime.

After the barrage of questions at dinner, my daughter shared that she “really wanted to know the answers” to where the universe came from. I shared with her that I had been wondering the same things since I was her age. That reminded me of a cross stitch that my mother had made for me for HS graduation that was tucked away in my closet where I hadn’t looked at it in a while. I pulled it out and read it to my daughters: “I want to know how God created the universe. I want to know his thoughts.” Albert Einstein

It gives me great comfort to be reminded that my kids’ questions are normal. My questions are normal. Even one of the greatest scientists of our time had big questions. So, when you are faced with those moments, take a deep breath and do your best. Be yourself and be honest. Keep talking about faith.

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