I rarely struggle with my faith anymore.
I feel certain that God is okay with my buffet approach to His Kingdom. I pick what I like from each religion I encounter and add it to my plate. I hardly ever feel the need to justify the various snack sized portions I choose to take in.
After all, I was born on the other side of the world to devout Muslims and less than a decade later was learning about Jesus at Catholic school in Canada. The change in exposure did nothing to change who I really am. This truth has always quieted me in the face of religious debate. I feel a deep connection to God and sense that He doesn’t care how I label it.
Recently, however, my smorgasbord belief system was tested.
Halfway through Heaven is for real one evening, Deaglan came into the family room. I explained what I was watching and told him he should watch too. As always, he had 57 questions. He doesn’t quite understand the concept of non-animated television.
“Is this happening somewhere right now?” “Are these people real?” “Did that guy just say the F word??”
I explained again that TV is mostly a person with a camera filming people who are pretending...someone has a story idea and asks people to act out that story in front of a video camera.
It gets trickier when the movie is based on true events. Our conversation about this particular movie went something like this:
Did that boy really go to heaven?
Well, yes, from what he says, it sounds like that’s where he went.
So this movie happened in real life?
That boy right there went to heaven?
Well, not him, but someone like him.
More complicated than explaining the difference between the movie and real life versions though, was knowing how to respond to my son’s pointed questions about my faith.
Mom, do you believe Heaven looks like that, the way the boy says it does?
Ummm...yup, I think so.
Should I believe it too?
If you like that idea. Do you like that idea?
I think I do. Does everybody go to Heaven?
Well...if they believe in it, I guess.
I felt Shaune's eyebrow shoot up from across the room. I shot back a look that I hoped said obviously I mean that if the concept of Heaven is not real for you then you might not care about going there after you die!
But what about you and Dad? Will I see you there?
My son’s voice was no longer inquisitive. It had taken on something close to desperation.
Yes of course you will!
But if you look different in heaven (the boy in the movie saw his grandfather not as the old man he was before he died, but as a young man), how will I find you?
His heart broke open then. He cried heavy hot tears into my chest; hugged me tightly.
I won’t be able to find you! How will we find each other in Heaven?!?
Hey, shhhh...it’s okay. You won’t have to look for me, sweetheart. Daddy and I will be waiting for you. As soon as we know you’re coming, we’ll be standing waiting for you!