Friday, November 20, 2015

Dear Riley 2.0

Dear Riley,

Thank-you for writing to me again. Asking difficult questions is sometimes scary but you are a brave girl and I’m very proud of you.

“I’m wondering if God is real…”

I think God is real, yes. Or maybe it would be better to say, I feel like God is real (most of the time). For me, God is real like the way I feel about my kids, like how you feel about your mom and dad; that’s real, right? Maybe not “real” like a bicycle or a book or a pair of skis – like something you can see in front of you and pick up or put away – but real in a bigger (and better) way, like knowing somebody loves you.

“… for me it’s confusing and starting to bug me alot… ”

This is another way God is like love. Sometimes the love we feel is not confusing; it’s as obvious as a big hug or as simple as the floor we stand on. But other times love can be very confusing, like when your dad has to go away for work or your mom gets crabby (ha-ha, that’s my sister, I know she can be crabby sometimes!) But even when it’s confusing – and maybe especially when it’s confusing – we can know it’s real.

“… and I want to know if you know he’s real?”

I know some math, like simple algebra. And I could probably teach it to you. If I did, what I know about math (not much, tbqh) would become something you know. But knowing that God is real is not teachable like math.

I could teach you some things about your mom. I would tell you stories about her (oh boy, I have some good ones!) But I can’t teach you that her love for you is real. That’s something you learn by knowing her and trusting her yourself.

I could also teach you some things about God. I would tell you stories about him. But I can’t teach you he’s real. That’s something all of us learn (or don’t learn) and believe (or don’t believe) for ourselves.

“… how come my question is soo confusing and … what causes confusion? Thoose questions are real real bothering me. Why?”

Whenever I get confused about God I think about Jesus instead. Sometimes ideas about God are just too big for my brain. But Jesus – he’s not so confusing. He’s someone I can always admire and always get to know better. I think big questions should bother us at least a little because that’s what keeps us exploring. But sometimes explorers can get lost, so here’s a route I’d suggest: the bible says when we get to know and understand Jesus we’re actually getting to know and understand God. I know you like to learn and read; maybe if you focused on learning about Jesus, on knowing him as well as you can, these questions about God wouldn’t bug you so much?

Here’s something I know is real: I love you. Keep exploring, Riley.

Uncle Paul

P.S. a clever poet, Rainer Rilke, once said a good thing: “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.”