Because my sense of and experience of God has changed from that of my youth I sometimes feel I need to develop a defense of sorts for the God who has my heart and holds my life. Yet to do so feels overly rational, cerebral and disconnected from daily life. My defense would be full of encounter stories rather tenets of faith, and words often fail to communicate these well, and so I falter.
Recently one of my directees and I were having a conversation that touched on the edges of this. She wondered if her sense of God had veered too far to the edges. She wondered if she might not be serving her children well--indeed might be damaging her children--by failing to pass on to them the clarity and certainty of her childhood faith. Important questions, those.
Out of our ramblings she told this story of a conversation she had with her daughter a couple of years ago, who was perhaps 11 at the time. Her daughter asserted, "I don't believe in God."
"Hmm," my directee answered, "that's interesting and I'd like to hear more. Why is it that you don't believe in God?
"Well, I can't see God. I can't touch God."
My directee nodded and said, "Yes. That's true." After a pause she added, "You know, I love you the same whether or not you believe in God. Nothing you believe or don't changes my love for you." I imagine her pausing again, as she did in our conversation before saying, "And that love I feel for you--well--that's kind of like God to me, that's who God is to me."
We sat with that apologetic--that defense--of my directees' sense of God. Our conversation flowed on from there, delving into what it means to experience God's enduring love, and then to live our ordinary lives out of the depths of that familiarity.
I wondered if her daughter made her declaration because she wanted to know how her mama would respond. Would she be rebutted? Would she learn naming some questions and statements brought disapproval? My directee responded with love, in love, sensing no urgent need to correct, to toe a line, to bring a wandering soul back into the fold. She had a confidence that what her daughter believed about the Mystery that called her into being and sustained her life in every nano second with heartbeats and breaths didn't concern God overly much.
And her daughter learned that what she believed wouldn't challenge, shift, or change her mama's love for her.
Maybe so it is with God, and perhaps that apologetic is enough.