27 October 2009

Silence Screams


Sometimes silence screams...

We were newly neighbors, Susan having moved into the area from Boston. With the fluttering heart of an introvert, I overcame my shyness and, with a prayer, approached her one day soon after she moved into the townhouse two doors down from mine. In my imitation Birkenstock's, I walked over to her Volvo and introduced myself. A dear friendship was born. And so were three children to each of us at pretty much the same times. (We even overlapped at the hospital with our middle kids.)

Before she became a Christian during a study of the Gospel of John we did together, she told me that she was not going to shove any religion down her children's throats. Her children would know the freedom of choosing their own beliefs. Not only choosing them, but with no input from Mommy or Daddy one way or the other apparently. It seemed the right thing to do. It certainly was (and is) the fashionable thing to do. What educated and sophisticated people do. And the easiest thing to do.

As we walked together through motherhood, our children had weekly play dates. And during one of them, I was given a simple and amazing insight, which I shared with my friend in response to her casual comments about not dictating religion to her offspring. I described to her what happened one day at my front door.

Her son, Adam, was a very, very sweet boy who was about two or three years old at the time. He, my daughter, who was the same age as he, and I were standing at my open front door watching a beautiful sunset. The clouds were alight with glowing pinks, oranges and reds. It was truly striking. As was my custom, whenever my daughter and I took note of something beautiful in nature, I asked, "Who made the sunset?" My daughter immediately said with an enthusiastic smile, "God did!"

Before I could spiritually build on this beautiful moment, Adam said matter-of-factly in his little northeastern accent, "What does God have to do with it?" His tone suggested a questioning of what God has to do with anything.


Adam had never been told that God didn't exist. His parents weren't atheists after all. He was never told that God had nothing to do with nature. His parents and his parent-cooperative preschool did not teach him about evolution. It's not like he was indoctrinated in any way. His parents were merely...


And that silence screamed.

Unwittingly, they had taught him much in their choice to teach him nothing about God and spiritual things. Even a little toddler learned the lesson loud and clear. Beauty, nature, wonder, glory, science, reality... all understood without a thought or inclination of the Creator of it all, of anything (or Anyone) beyond what one can see, taste and touch.

No, she did not force him to choose what to believe.

She was unknowingly choosing to take away his choice to believe.

Because believing (anything transcendent) was automatically deemed irrelevant from the start. Not even considered. Therefore, it didn't appear to even exist in his mind. And its non-existence went unnoticed by him.

After Susan began her spiritual journey with Christ years later, and attended our church with her children, she delighted in telling me how much she enjoyed going on walks with Adam and asking him what a flower, for example, told him about God. She listened with rapt attention, not only because she knew she was sowing seeds of faith, but because what he said in his childlike way often taught her things. Our children have so much to teach us, if we will take the time to listen.

And if we will take the time to speak. Of the God who made them and longs to have a relationship with them for eternity.

If we refuse to let silence scream.

Names have been changed to protect others' anonymity.

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