I grew up in a family where an easy faith was taught and lived, more by circumstance than directive. It was a faith that I internalized to mean, however wrongly, that if I was good enough, good things would happen to me. God was benevolent and good and a pretty friendly guy. Bad stuff happened to others and my life easy because I was good. Abuse and loss were far from my early childhood years.
My life changed through my late teen years. My parents divorced. My mother revealed a horrible youth, and a surprise sister. Abuse entered my life but by then I could clearly blame "others" for that and not perceive that it was any fault of my own. Maturity helped, age helped and supportive friends helped. God was still on my side and my friend.
When my children arrived, passing on our legacy of a faith was something that was very, very important to me. The familiar Bible stories became part of our lives. Noah, Daniel, Samuel, Moses, and Jesus; my boys knew it all.
The hard questions were yet to come. How to explain a loving God, a God that wants the very best for you, a God that protects you, cares for you and loves you more than you can imagine to children who have experienced more horror and loss than most of us every have to deal with in a life time?
Where was a loving God when children are beaten and bruised?
Where was a loving God when children are burnt and neglected?
Where was a loving God when children lose everything they know and love?
My young son struggled with this concept deeply as he ached to trust in a God that had appeared to be so untrustworthy in his own life. One day he found this picture.
It was a tiny picture, cut out of the back of an Anne Geddes art book, just about the size of a business card. He carried that picture (pencil crayoned brown because in our house God is NOT just a Large White Man) with him everywhere, every day for over a year. It explained to him, in a way he could imagine, that although horrid, awful things happened to him; things that were never part of God's plan for his life, always through it all, God held him.
God held him close, God wept with him. God loved him. When he was hurt and scared and lonely. When he was alone and scared. When he didn't understand what was happening or why it was happening, God was there with him. My faith became more real because of his faith.
Ten years ago I stood before our church with my husband and sons and dedicated them, and our family, to Christian faith. My public statement to raise them to know God, to hear about God and to give them the opportunity to develop their own relationship with Him, a God they could trust, even when bad things happen.
Yesterday, despite this awful year, these horrible losses, the pain, the grief, the fear, the regret, the turmoil, despite all of that, my three oldest sons chose to be baptized. To publicly declare their faith in a God they trust.
It was one of my proudest moments.