Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More of Life in the Van

The other day I picked the girls up from school and, just like in the past, the lessons they learned in the van were huge. 

We had driven past a cemetery and Hope piped up from the back "All those stones are where the people are, right mom?"

And I answered her, yup, she was right.

Then we got into the whole "Does Angel have a stone?"  If you are just new to my blog, we had a daughter die at birth.  She was #3, after Keri and before Grace.  She would have been turning 11 this year...

Hope really doesn't remember a whole lot about visiting Angels grave, she is still so young, but she brought it up in the van.

"What does Angel's stone look like?"  So we told her, it is a little stone, just in the ground and it has her name on it with a picture of a baby laying in Jesus hand.  She was all "awwww"....

So I jumped on this opportunity and asked if they would like to go and see her stone.  And Hope was ecstatic!!

Off we went to the cemetery.  We got out, Grace, Hope and Faith, and we walked over to where Angel is.  We looked at the stone and all the toys around the trees, since she is in the childrens section.  We talked about how we come on her birthday and celebrate with balloons and cupcakes and we sing her happy birthday.  We talked about how she is in Heaven and she gets to celebrate all that fun stuff with Jesus and the angels.

Then we got back into the van and that is when the real conversation began.

Grace said "I believe in Jesus, but I don't think I believe in Heaven or hell."  I asked her why and what her reasons were.  She wasn't sure, she just said she didn't believe that Heaven or hell were real. 

I am a strong believer in my kids having their own beliefs.  I do not expect them to just believe and recite our beliefs to people.  I believe that kids need to have a strong foundation with their beliefs and should be able to back them up and tell others the reasons.  (Not that anyone needs to know, just for the sake of them being strong enough to talk about them.)

I said "Grace, you can have whatever beliefs you want, we don't want you to just copy ours.  Your dad and I want you to make your own decisions and be able to understand what you believe."  And I think Grace was a little confused. 

We go to church, we believe what we believe, but we have never pressured our kids to follow suit.  Belief systems have to be personal, they have to be "in their hearts", they have to be real for the kids.

I asked Grace where she thought Angel was, since she had died.  She said that she was just in the ground, at the cemetery.  So I asked where she thought her soul had gone (and I specified that I meant her soul, not the bottom of her foot;-)  Grace asked what exactly a soul was.  I explained that our souls are made up of our mind, our will and our emotions.  So, how we thing, how we feel and the choices we end up making.

I said that I believed it was our soul that goes to Heaven or hell, and that our body, the physical one, stays in the ground.  She thought a little bit then asked "Do people become angels in Heaven?" and I answered no.  I don't believe that they do. 

Then that got us into the whole conversation of how God created all the angels and he created them with free will.  They could choose to do whatever they wanted.  And I mentioned that the devil was created as an angel, and he decided to go against God and that is why he was sent away.

Then the conversation jumped back to kids and babies dying (we can be quite morbid in our house), and she asked about where I thought they would go when they died.  I said that I believed that if they didn't have a choice to have a relationship with God, then they would just go to Heaven, that is why we believe that is where Angel is. 

The van always seems to be the place where these types of conversations happen.  Grace is at that point where she is starting to set her worldview in motion.  I am glad that we can have these conversations with our kids, that they feel comfortable enough to ask us and to question us.  It makes my feet a little more solid when I have to answer them and it makes them think a little more.

My hope as a parent, is to see my kids believe whatever they choose to believe, but be strong enough to back it up and to not waiver.  I want to see my kids know, without a shadow of a doubt, that their views are true to them.  I don't care if they choose to believe the same as us, I want them to question everything in life, I want them to have a real relationship with their views.  I also don't want them to become a carbon copy of me, because I am not perfect and am still in a place where I constantly question what I believe and what I beleive to be true.

I love raising free thinkers!! 

How do you handle this with your kids?


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