For several years and through several children, my husband and I have had many conversations on the topic of truthfulness. Specifically, being truthful with our children, so that they can trust what we say to be true. When we say we’re going to do something, even as small as reading a book at bedtime, we do everything in our power to stick to what we said. I can recall a few nights when we've been tempted to put them to bed quickly because of the hour, only to have one of them remind us that earlier in the day, when busy with some chore or task, one of us had said we would read to them at bedtime. Then after a long afternoon where time slips by, we suddenly realize it’s an hour or more past bedtime and they are still up. We try to be speedy about the bedtime prep and just tuck them in with a quick prayer. It’s then, when they look at us and remind us of our words, that we realize it’s one of those moments that can build trust or break it. We try to never break it.
It may seem small, the little untruths that make things easier, but there is One truth we want them to believe so much, that we make every effort to build their trust in us so that they will believe us when we tell them. The One truth is of course, the existence of their loving Father. A Father so full of grace and mercy that He will never forsake them or leave them. A Father so true, that where ever they go, whatever they do, He will be right there with them. A Father so trustworthy, that without even a thought, they can lean on Him and be held. A Father so perfect, that they will be able to trust Him without even consciously making a decision to do so, because to not trust Him wouldn’t even occur to them. That is the One truth we want so badly for them to believe, that we will sacrifice time, sleep, money, all to have them trust us enough to believe us when we tell them.
The conversation on trust and truth has often circled around to childhood traditions like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and of course, Santa Claus. We have struggled with how our children will view us, when after years of playing this folly, they discover these characters do not exist. Would our children still believe that Jesus is real and alive, and longing for a home in their hearts? Would they question the countless bible stories we’ve read all their lives? Would they believe the One truth that will ultimately save them? To handle this untruth, we decided that as soon as one of them questioned the existence of these traditional play characters of childhood, we would sit that child down and share the secret. By our third child we felt this was going pretty well. We answered her honestly when she asked if the tooth fairy really came and left money for her little brother. She took it like a trooper. Not at all upset with us, she instead enjoyed the little conspiracy she had with us, that little brother still wasn’t part of. It made her more grown up, more important to be trusted with this little secret. I however, was sad BECAUSE she was a little more grown up and a little less my little girl. I rolled it over in my mind the rest of the morning, how our next conversation would be about Jesus, and that no matter how grown up she got, He would always be the same. He would always exist. He would always be real, and He should never be a secret. Jesus should be shared.
After lunch that same day, my young lady and I sat outside in our hammock, holding hands and swinging under the shade trees. We started to talk about our savior, and I asked her if she understood that although the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa did not exist, that Jesus did. She looked up at me, and put out her arms as if she was trying to encompass the trees above us, the fields around us, the birds eating from the feeder, and the garden beside us. She looked me in the eye, and in her still childish voice said, “Of course I know, who else but Him could have made all this?” I knew, she knew.
We had taken something so simple and perfect, and made it hard. We had taken a truth so special, and thought it was something only we could teach her. We had forgotten that the Truth loves her more than we as her parents are capable of. The Truth had already sought her, pursued her, indwelled her and made her His, and we were so busy trying to earn her trust, we missed it. “For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”, (Mark 10:14).
This is the lesson I learned from my child today. I’m so glad I listened.
**Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,”.