By Chris L.
I have been a parent for 4 years now and I have realized this one seemingly eternal and absolute truth: Kids get older. They get bigger. They get smarter. They go from little babies crying when they want food, to punching you in the stomach because it takes you too long to get out of bed in the morning to make peanut butter toast. Oh, and eventually they even learn enough vocabulary talk back.
As a father I find it part of the job description to both make my children laugh like crazy, and to drive them nuts. One way I provoke my 4 year old is by picking him up and rock him back and forth like a baby. He laughs for a while, then proudly proclaims “Daddy! I am not a baby. I am a big kid. Put me down.”
I think the most terrifying dynamic of our children growing is that they realize they are growing. They realize they are getting bigger and smarter. It seems they can’t get enough of it. My eldest is constantly wondering when he will be old enough, or big enough to do things. Questions like; “Dad, when I’m 5 I can drive a car right?” are asked with confidence and flair which gives the impression that the “world is his oyster.”
Not only do they get physically bigger. Not only do they become more cognitively aware, but childhood growth is a journey of poetic wonder. It is a wonder in which parents have the distinct privilege to participate and facilitate. What a joy it is to wonder with our kids, and what an important task to create space in which to fully pursue that which our kids are curious about. Then there are moments where wonder meets God, and it seems as if you find yourself in sacred space with your children, talking and wondering about God in new ways. It is in moments such as these where we see the face of God revealed.
We never stop growing into the mystery and bigness of God. Parents often get a good dose of this when we engage questions from our ever smartening and growing children. Engaging children’s wonderment of the divine can be horribly intimidating and a challenge. There have been many times where my theology degree has been no match for the curious imagination of my 4 year old.
My wife loves that she gets to explore the newness of the world through the eyes of a child. As our eldest son grows, we continually realize the beauty in exploring the newness of God through the eyes of a child. Newness is everywhere. God is working everywhere. God has worked in the past; through the story of scripture, through the story of our own family. This grand narrative of redemption and reconciliation, of which our son is a part, is full value for his exploration and wonder.
As a family we try to be intentional about how our son explores the newness of God. We try to engage all his questions. Sometimes we even ask him to answer his own questions. The questions often turn into conversations and we are blessed. We read stories out of the children’s bible we got from his grandma. He thinks it’s cool that God created everything.
As our child continues to grow, we must continue to present opportunities for genuine engagement of God. The conversation and wonder will change. We cannot continue to engage him as a child with matters of faith and life as he grows into a young man. As parents, part of the journey is to facilitate that journey into the mystery of God, fit for wonder of all ages. As adults we manage to lose part of the beauty of wonder.