About a week or so ago, we got together with a few couples to explore an opportunity to serve together in a ministry at Memorial. At the end of the evening, all of our kids were playing or asleep and so the adults gathered around on the floor to pray together over the discussion and possibilities.
Little did we know, while we were praying, Julia, of all people, was (VERY!) quietly tip-toeing planting fake spiders, bugs and scorpions all around us. It was when we finished and opened our eyes that we learned Shane May doesn't like spiders very much. :-)
I have to admit, I was half way impressed with her practical joke skills, until today. I was cleaning out a few closets to make a room ready for my brother-in-law to come and stay with us for the summer. Then I ran into a few of the fake spiders myself.
I decided I might prefer her being afraid of them after all.
I had said on the previous post that I would share some of the conversations that Eli and I had surrounding the discussion of "many gods" in the first grade classroom. The last week hasn't afforded extra time to do so until now.
It was an interesting discussion, to deal with Eli's convictions and doubts that the class at presented at the same time. His simple questions included many deeper ones that we grapple with in trying to either believe in or understand God. Sometimes we fear the questions. I have learned though, that fearing the questions results in shallow faith, which isn't what I want to hand on to my child. I won't share all of the questions that came up... but I encourage you to hear the other questions encompassed in the ones your kids ask. And I encourage you to not be afraid to explore for the answers. What I learned from this discussion is that God is right.. His word is living and active... and sticks.
"Mom? The teacher said that the Indians prayed to the rain gods and it rained?"
It just doesn't make sense, does it? We are tempted to think the best move on God's part, if He's trying to convince the world He's real, would be to make every experience like Elijah's...(1 Kings 18)- to only pour out rain to the one who asks the right God. But thankfully, God doesn't fit our shallow mold. We opened Eli's bible and read in Matthew 5:45:
"He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don't."
There is such depth for our kids and for us alike to understand in that simple verse. If our God can pour out the essentials of life to those who despise or disbelieve Him as equally as to those who love Him...we can too. Ironically that would be one indicator of this God not being created by man... He doesn't fit any paradigm of ours. Those who believe in Him spend most of their life submitting themselves to being transformed to His way of thinking because it doesn't at all come naturally! (I loved someone making the point once that we never have to be taught to sin...but we do have to be taught not to.)
... God takes us far beyond the superficial "being good" that people first think of associating Christianity with. If we let Him, He moves us into absolutely illogical realms of self denial and love that don't come "naturally" to anyone. It is an other-worldly love.
In the conversations we had, Eli became conflicted about feeling that the truths we were reading needed to be shared, and yet he felt a little afraid that his teacher would get mad at him. I told Eli that Jason and I would go in and talk to her about the discussion.
"No Mom... I want to talk to my teacher about this. By myself."
I wondered why he became very adamant at this point. So I asked him, at which point he began to flip through his Bible to explain himself. He flipped throught Proverbs and searched for a minute before pointing me to Proverbs 12:1 and said "Here - this is it."
"Anyone who loves to be trained loves knowledge. Anyone who hates to be corrected is stupid." - Prov. 12:1
I laughed out loud and then explained that while that verse had great truth and merit to it, I didn't think it would be the one he would be taking in to his teacher. But he was already looking again, realizing it wasn't exactly what he had meant.
Finally, he found Proverbs 12:24:
"Hands that work hard will rule. But people who don't want to work will become slaves."
Now this was the interesting thing for me. About 3 weeks earlier I had explained to Eli the concept of plagiarism while he was researching and writing a little report. I walked away, only to come back to a completely "copied and pasted" work he tried (intently) to pass off as his own. The consequence of the action was to spend a little time each day on the report until it was due, (about 5 days later) and in addition he had to write this verse out each day.
And this was the verse that came to his heart... uniquely applied to a different situation ( which is huge in the Asperger's realm of thinking!!). It was not for him to pass off a difficult situation to mom and dad. It was for him to own it.
I hadn't counted on the verse sticking and making an impact like that. But what an incredible lesson I learned when it did.
We talked a lot more, and finally he went to bed.
Eli woke up the next morning, agitated and angry. I quickly realized from conversation it was because he was conflicted... wanting to share truth of his understanding and wanting to avoid tension he felt he would encounter. So he was caught somewhere between wanting to not go to school and wanting to leave and go straight to her room.
Been there too?
We had also poured over his conflicted emotions the night before about encountering someone you like and yet believing their teaching to be in error. How do you balance conviction and truth with respect and love, especially in the culture we live in today. It's not easy. It is a balance, (especially with the way Eli's mind processes things), to teach why we firmly believe the existence of God is undeniable, - and worth sharing with others, and still help him navigate social interaction with confidence about those beliefs and genuine love and respect of others. One doesn't have to have Asperger's to blunder in that department, (!) but it does make teaching sensitivity a little trickier without watering down convictions.
We drove to school having decided he would wait until Jason and I could set up a time with this teacher to talk together. We arrived at school and as he was getting out he changed his mind, and grabbed the bible out of my purse, intent on showing her what he'd learned right away.
(Again, the beauty of Asperger's is that it doesn't have to wait for a rational moment to discuss what's important. That's one thing I honestly love about him...:-) So I parked and came back in to the school to take him and find the teacher . It was a great experience. It was a real experience. And we continue to grow, and learn.
Overall what I learned again was this: don't be afraid to put the Bible in your kids hands at every opportunity. Don't be afraid of their questions. They might ask one you were afraid too. Don't be afraid of the God who will answer and don't be afraid of where He might take you with the truth or His timing. You may learn your fear was holding you back from the best reality ever.