I asked Merit yesterday morning, "Did you come from Mama or from God?" She said, "God." Then I asked her, "Where is God?" She pointed to her heart.
Tears welled up in my eyes. In that moment I was reminded how simple and powerful our connection to God is. This wasn't something that we taught Merit to know. It was purely based on her own understanding. We've talked with her about being grateful to God and seeing the God around us, but not about who God is or isn't to her. Clare and I have longed to have these conversations with her because we know she knows more about God than we do.
Looking back on my own younger years, I certainly remember the innocent and pure connection I felt to something beyond me. I knew it was bigger than Jesus. But I didn't have the words or the experience to understand the vastness I was feeling. As life went on and bombarded me with things I should do or shouldn't do, I slowly lost close touch. God never felt far away, but I felt less and less deserving of the love that once engulfed my heart.
And so goes life...as we get older we try to unlearn what we have been taught so that we can feel close to Truth again. It's not an easy process for anyone because we have to sift through the layers and layers of misguided decisions we've made based on what we thought was "right" at the time, but not necessarily "right" for us. We learn eventually, if we pay attention, but sometimes those lessons are costly.
Clare and I have always believed that children come into this world knowing God in a way that we have forgotten. Culturally (at least here in the South), we teach them to unlearn the God that they know by putting parameters around God through religion. We learn to view God as separate, as this Being that is outside of us or in the sky somewhere. We teach children that they are bad or sinful, but children are so pure of heart so they don't understand "bad" or "sinful" until we teach it to them.
We teach our children that there is a one-way path to God that you must attain instead of allowing them to embrace and build on the truth they already know.
Who is the God they know?
What little children know is that there is no separation between them and God. That's why Merit pointed to her heart when I asked her where God was. She didn't point to the sky. She knows God is within her.
How do we help our children build on what they already know about God?
What Merit so clearly understands is that she is one with God, and that God rests within her at all times - what we must do as parents is nurture her own knowing by guiding her to listen to that part of her instead of listening to the fear of trying to avoid doing something "wrong." I know it isn't an easy feat as a parent, but we too have to remember to take the time to be in "oneness" with God in order to guide our children towards listening to the part of them that will bring them wholeness and connection in their adult life.
How do we help ourselves build on what our children know about God/how do we learn from our children?
Learning to know God as our children do requires our own work of "unlearning" and "remembering." Lord knows that we all have our work cut out for us there. For example, as a gay woman, I have to keep unlearning that I am "bad" or "sinful" because I am gay and remember that I am worthy and that God is within me as much as the next person. There is a part of us all that still thinks we are "bad" or undeserving.
From my own observations, studies, and my own knowing, I believe that when we adults take the time to be silent and access our "God-voice"(aka, listen to our heart) to hear the answer(s) we are so desperately seeking, then we are activating the part of us that we have lost over the years. We are taught that God speaks "through" us, which means we don't see God as a part of us, as one with us. Instead of praying to God maybe what we need to do is listen to the God that is already within us, the part that already has the answers. Children do.
Merit has reminded me that God's voice doesn't fade. We do.