I had a great conversation with a twenty-two-year-old yesterday. She admitted she was struggling with her faith, that she had a lot of questions.
“Good,” I replied.
“What do you mean?”, she asked.
Here’s how I explained it.
“I wasn’t brought up in a Christian environment although I did go to Sunday School as a little girl. In fact, one of my most treasured memories is of a dear teacher with one totally cloudy eye. She was so loving. Her eye didn’t even bother me, an eight-year-old who is usually put off by such things. Anyway, because there was no one in my family to teach me, I asked a lot of questions. The cloudy-eyed teacher never had a problem with that.
When I got to be a teenager and then a young adult, I entered the stage where one asks the big philosophical questions, the ones they think no one before them has asked, but in fact, have been asked by young people since the beginning of time.
“What does it all mean?”
“What is the meaning of life, anyway?”
“What is my purpose on earth?”
“Why is there good and evil if God is all good?”
You know the questions. They are typical of any emerging, thoughtful mind.
Hers is no exception.
I went on:
“I find that even now, I’m still asking questions, maybe even more of them. That means my faith isn’t handed-down by parents, teachers, or preachers, or books and sermons. It’s mine. I’ve done my homework. You should do yours. Besides, you are in good company.
Throughout the Bible, people questioned God. I can’t think of a single incident where God chastised them for it. In fact, there are a lot of words in scripture like, “seek”, “find”, “learn”, “embrace”, “be transformed”, etc., all of which, in my opinion, means asking some questions first.
God is open to all honest questioning. He invites it by the word choices he inspired.
It is those people who never question who never grow.
I present this next little popular Pinterest ditty as exactly how not to think. (I just want to hit my computer some days when I see what people post and what people believe is scriptural. I hate these little sayings and I’m very careful how I use them.) Trust is not the absence of questioning. Trust is the product of questioning. If Abraham hadn’t put a period where God hadn’t intended, the whole Sodom and Gomorrah situation might have turned out differently. He stopped too soon. How’s about we trust God while we question?
To trust someone without the answers is the greatest trust of all.
We are in a classroom all the time, the classroom of life. The greatest minds, the strongest Christians, have always been those with an inquiring mind, those who don’t just ascribe to the “standard” formula of faith. The most faithful of Christians are those who don’t let God “go”, much like Jacob. They keep asking until they are given some sort of answer, even when that answer is something like, “That can’t be revealed just now. Wait on me.”
We went on to talk about why she doesn’t necessarily “buy” into certain theological concepts. We’ve had these conversations before and as usual, I didn’t try to persuade her any different. “A person persuaded against their will, is of the same opinion still“, is an absolute fact of life. Instead, I encouraged her to continue asking and never quit.
Some of you may wonder if I wasn’t a little afraid to go that route. What if she falls off the deep end? What if she gives up on her faith?
She won’t. And now you’re sure to be asking how I can be so sure. Now, you are asking the questions.
I know because she is my granddaughter and I’ve prayed for her her entire life. My hubby and I were intimately involved with her and her brother’s childhood. My son and his wife invited us into almost every decision regarding them. We have spent countless hours (My spell-checker told me this was a cliché. I ignored it as some clichés are totally correct) with them. We have been there through their struggles and their triumphs. They are more like our children than our grandchildren.
So when she left, I knew that all my prayers for her are being answered. She is going to be a strong woman of faith. I know it, even if she doesn’t. It has been hard with both of them to learn to adapt to them as young adults who happen to be our grandchildren, instead of our grandchildren who happen to be young adults. I talk with them as I would any young person their age. And then do you know what I do?
I pray as hard as I can for them. I pray that they will always be willing to talk to me and their grandfather, that they will always be one hundred percent sure of our love for them.
I have to say that I wouldn’t want to be a young person at this time of history. Not because I think the world is any more stressful but because my world was “quite-er”. I wasn’t bombarded with everyone’s opinions every minute of the day because of social media. Interesting to note, neither her nor her brother are on Facebook a lot. They don’t “tweet”. Yes, they have Instagram and yes, they are on their phones texting a lot with their friends but the rest of it is not something they’re interested in. I’m grateful for that.
I never take my relationship with my grandchildren for granted. I work on it all the time as they go through the growing up process. I always try to remember what it was like for me and then I get all “teary-eyed” with gratitude as I remember that they have not had my experience. They have always had us to come to.
If you have young adults in your life, treat them with respect. Remember how confused you were at their age. Think what it would have felt like to have an older adult talk with you as they would anyone their own age, who would have been honest about their own questionings, who would have been honest about their own fears. Maybe you did; I didn’t. I would’ve loved to have had those kinds of conversations with an adult I loved and respected.
Have enough faith to know that the same God you question, and you do, is the same God they question.
He has seen you through and he will see them through as well. Encourage their questions and don’t be afraid that by doing so, you are sending them down a wrong path. If you are praying for them at the same time, God is protecting them.
God bless and have a good day.