Has To Be

How do you best explain the concepts of faith, God, heaven and angels to kids?

During bedtime on Monday, T said in a panic that he wanted to live forever and was afraid of dying because “what if angels aren’t real?”

Since his Auntie, my sister, passed away after last Christmas, T found great comfort in the belief that she is an angel, sitting on a cloud.

The hubby doesn’t believe in God and I do – and we peacefully co-exist with our beliefs.

I have a love-hate relationship with religion. When I was a teen and came out to my church, the pastor said I needed to see a psychologist, because being gay is not normal.

That turned me off religion for many years but as an adult, I believe in God and that faith brings comfort and healing.

I separate faith from religion; the former is a personal journey, whereas the latter is organized and often creates conflict in the world – and I have no patience for that.

“I know there’s someone out there
Waiting for me
There must be someone out there
There just has to be.”

– “Has to Be” by Madonna

As faith is a personal journey, I believe in helping kids ask questions to guide them through their journey, including learning about different belief systems and resisting the urge to tell them what to believe.

I’m not sure what precipitated T’s recent panic but he said he did not want to die, because he’s worried he won’t become an angel, as he’s not sure if they’re real or not.

It was late, I was tired, and I was not sure how to answer the question. So I asked him if he believed in angels, because that’s what’s important.

Then he did something that just made my heart melt, because it was so adorable.

He got out of bed, went to our room to ask Alexa, our smart home device, if angels were real. He said, “I hope she tells me they’re real, because I will cry forever if they’re not.”

God bless Alexa and her astute response was along the lines of people’s beliefs will differ based on their religion.

I thought it was a brilliant answer but T was not fully comforted by the answer. As of today, he’s still exploring this question.

And you know what, that’s ok, because it’s what makes being human so beautiful – our continued search for meaning and something bigger than us.

The following night, last night, he said something that was so touching. He said that if he became an angel, he would come down to Earth and wrap his feathers around us so we could be safe.

Life is filled with many unknowns. But I believe in this wholeheartedly: This kid drives us nuts, he has a sailor’s potty mouth – but despite his disability and challenges, he is pure and good at the core.

I have no doubt he will be a wonderful angel one day – hopefully not for a long while.

Happy 65th birthday today to my dear M! We were supposed to attend her concert last Sunday but it got rescheduled to January due to her illness. It worked out for me as I was on the mend from pneumonia. Talk about divine intervention!

45 thoughts on “Has To Be

    1. Thanks Faith. They really are complicated and sometimes when it shouldn’t be. I do feel faith and belief systems bring more good than harm and I hope T finds his way around these complex issues in a way that works for him one day. 🙏

  1. The church my mom attends has a gay pastor and they welcome anyone into the church. What a devastating thing the pastor said to you, so sad! Raising a child is difficult to have to come up with answers to their curious minds. You always seem to handle it right, oh and Alexa too! 🤣

    1. Thanks Diane. I do think we have more similarities than we do differences – and these will win out in the end. Love always wins in the end.

      And yes, kids and their damn questions. Thank goodness Alexa didn’t sabotage my response. 😆

  2. Oh my goodness – this is so precious! Yes, not for a very long while. And yes to it being so hard to guide kids. Also, a big smack upside the head to your former pastor.

    I think of the things I learned as a kid about faith and how I just didn’t get them til I was older. Maybe we just have to help them hold space for possibility, as you did here, until they get old enough to see the patterns themselves?

    Beautiful post, Ab.

    1. Thanks Wynne! It is so hard to guide kids indeed and I am thankful for the moments when we get help, be it Alexa or something else. 😆

      I have faith that T will find his way. His questions are a very good start!

      Hope you, the kids and Cooper have a nice weekend ahead! Yay, it’s here.

  3. I’m a firm believer that you can be spiritual and have faith without being religious as well. I like your approach to let T make up his own mind about what he believes in rather than trying to do it for him. I’m sure he’ll come to appreciate that as he gets older. And the fact that he is asking questions and is curious is a good thing. My heart couldn’t help but melt a little when I read the part about how if he becomes an angel, he would wrap his wings around you.

    1. Thanks Linda. Yup, I totally believe in separation between faith/spirituality and organized religion. And yes, wasn’t his comment so heartmelting? I’m still smiling about it today. 😊 Have a nice weekend. Your big trip is coming up!

      1. Thanks! We leave in one week. We’ve been keeping a close eye on the wildfires in the NWT are are hoping our flight into Edmonton won’t be cancelled or delayed.

        Have a wonderful weekend as well!

  4. “He said that if he became an angel, he would come down to Earth and wrap his feathers around us so we could be safe.” This is the sweetest thing ever! I’m one of those people who, for some reason, have been questioning about religion since early age. Right now I’m not really religious — or more precisely I focus on what’s ahead of me and try to do good things because they’re the right things to do. However, I do get why many people believe in God. I’m fine with this as long as no one forces other people to believe what that person believes.

    1. Thanks Bama! 😊 It was the sweetest comment indeed.

      Through your writing, I can see how you have an interesting perspective on this. Through your travels, you see firsthand how different cultures interpret faith and religion over time. There really is no one right way to live and to believe – and that’s what makes life so interesting.

      Hope you’re having a nice evening. Just logging into the work day over here. 😆

  5. I loved this beautiful post. I love T’s thoughtful, curious mind and your honest replies. The photos were gorgeous!!!
    And I love the way you take an experience and make it a learning moment for all of us!

  6. Aww, T is the sweetest potty-mouthed kid ever! I resent organized religion, but understand heritage and the need for moral structure in society…too bad it is, in many cases, a smoke screen to keep believers pulled by the nose and the leader rich and powerful. And of course, mostly men. Ugh, see what you started 🙂

    1. Thanks Margie. I know you worked in archaeology so I can imagine you have a unique and wider view into history, culture and society and you see the trends and patterns over time. And the patterns do tend to show that when it comes to religion, it is male dominated and driven, there is often a sense of control, and it is very divisive and often contributes to the conflict in the world, etc. And that’s why I also don’t have much patience for it. I truly believe faith is personal relationship and journey.

      Anyway, happy almost weekend. 😆

    1. Thanks Jill. I agree, it’s good to see that. He’s still going on about it and I’m gonna need to think of a different way to address his concerns. The joys of parenting! 😆

  7. “but despite his disability and challenges, he is pure and good at the core.” Beautiful words Ab. Oh the horrible things religious people have done in the name of religion. My faith comes and goes, but I still believe. I applaud you for letting Ab find his way. Smart kid. He’s asking questions, that’s always a good thing if you ask me.

    1. Thanks Brian. I agree with you that it’s good he’s asking questions. I just wish it was during the day and not when we’re trying to put him to bed. 😆

  8. I was looking for my comment to edit. I think I forgot my whole point about relating to faith being a journey.
    Navigating from this cell phone is much harder than my desktop, smh.
    Be well my friend!

      1. Thanks, so did my first comment not post? It was regarding T & angels? Just curious because not always but often I will comment on posts via my email, but I wondered why you don’t reply. Now I’m thinking you may not have gotten them 🤔. Well, have a great day❣️

      2. Thanks Tammy. Your first comment was posted anonymously but I knew it was you – and I responded. You didn’t see my reply because I responded to the anonymous comments. If you scroll the comments, you’ll see it.

        FYI – you often post a comment anonymously but I know it’s you and I respond. I’m sorry you don’t get a notification of my response. They are always appreciated! 😊

  9. This is beautiful, the perspective of young minds. T will likely be searching for answers for years as he gets older and wiser.
    I love that you mention faith being a journey, it is for me as well. I don’t fully understand religion and have visited churches & studied religion of various cultures. All I know is that feeling so alone all my life & surviving what I have, someone not of the human race has surely been with me every step of the way.
    By the way, I probably won’t be posting this week. My computers are down & I’m not sure yet what to do or how to fix them. So on my next off day, I’ll be watching YouTube videos, lol.

    1. Thanks Tammy. I agree that the world viewed through the eyes of young pure and innocent minds is truly special to behold. It gives me hope, joy and inspiration.

      I appreciate you sharing your personal journey and I agree that there are things that happen that seem like divine intervention. I’m glad you found comfort in your faith.

      Hope your computer gets fixed soon and enjoy relaxing with YouTube!

    1. I can imagine and empathize with Hawklad’s struggles. So much of these concepts are abstract and not as black and white – and I can see why my son struggles with it too. Balancing act indeed! 🙏

  10. T coming down and wrapping his arms around you to keep you safe. Oh, my heart. 😭😍

    I can relate very much to this, Ab. I grew up in a very sheltered and religious environment (including K-12 Catholic school) and remember getting in trouble around T’s age because I couldn’t draw a picture of God because I’d never seen him. Then, in college, befriending a group gay classmates made me question everything; they were such GOOD people, contrary to what I had been taught. The pendulum is currently swinging back toward belief for me, but without the judgements I grew up with.

    Faith really is a journey, and I think you’re doing the right thing allowing T to explore his feelings and beliefs, and find comfort in those burgeoning beliefs.

    1. Thanks Erin. That really was a sweet heart melting comment indeed. 😊

      I couldn’t help but laugh at the drawing assignment you got. I think I know how I’d draw him today as an adult but like you, I wonder how I would’ve handled the assignment as a kid.

      I really do believe that we are more similar than we are different to each other – and my biggest issue with organized religion is the division it creates. And that’s why I focus on the personal journey. But having said that, whatever works for others is the best.

      1. Yes, I 100% agree about organized religion causing division. I can’t wrap my head around how they can say, “treat others as you wish to be treated,” then turn around and judge those they deem to be “sinners.” Acceptance, forgiveness, and simple human kindness are the foundation of connection and, sadly, I think many religious types I’ve met can’t find it in their heart to focus on the similarities, rather than acting all high-and-mighty.

      2. Thanks Erin. I totally agree. Thankfully I do believe those that are open, kind and accepting far outweigh the louder minority that sow the seeds of division. 🙏

  11. Oh Ab, I so admire how open and honest you want to be with T- giving him some guidance but also allowing him to explore all the aspects of different belief systems or none, faith and how to define that, and what may or may not wait for us after death. The freedom to seek and search out his own answers is (in my opinion) the best thing a parent can do for their kids. It is heartbreaking that you had to go through uninformed disrespect for being who you are as a teenager. You are perfect and you and husband are giving T the gift to understand just how perfect he is no matter what or who or if he chooses to believe. I applaud you.

    1. Thank you Deb. This is such a tricky topic for kids and I think openness and honesty are the best approach – and to also really encourage him to get a wider understanding of different belief systems. We are all more similar than we are different to each other. 😊

      PS. It’s 6:30 am over here. Have you done your morning walk yet? 😆 I’m just struggling to get out the door for work.

      1. LOL! I slept in this morning Ab! Just about 6AM as I write this and it’s a bit cooler this morning so I’ll go in a little bit 😉

  12. What a beautiful post! I love it! I love how you keep faith and religion separate. It works very well for me also. I like to think my friends daughter is with me. I even get chills sometimes when I am thinking of her. You just never know. All of our energy has to go somewhere, right???

    1. Thank you Rebecca! The separation works for me too. I think the chills may be a sign someone is thinking of you too. 😊🙏

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