I came upstairs from running on the treadmill this evening and I heard my five-year old daughter crying in her bedroom. I made my way down the hall, double-time, and opened her door. She looked up at me, tears streaming down her face and then she dropped her head back down.
“What’s the matter hon,” I asked.
She didn’t want to answer.
“Come on Babe! What’s the matter?” I said.
“Daddy, I don’t think God loves me anymore,” she said.
I let out a long sigh. “Why not?”
“Because he doesn’t talk to me,” she said.
Being a Freethinker, (aka Atheist/Agnostic/#notgoodwithlabelsaboutGod) it would be really easy for me to crush the innocence’s of a child’s beliefs and say, “Well He doesn’t exist, so don’t worry about it!”
But I didn’t do that. Instead I said, “Do you know that people from all over the world believe differently about God?”
“No,” she said.
“Grammy’s and Grandpa Wallace’s family believe that Jesus is their God. Nani and Nana’s family believes that Krishna, Ganesh and Vishnu are their Gods –one God under a different form,” I said.
“What do you believe Daddy?” she said.
Great! I thought.
People who know me know that I was a strong Christian until I was thirty years old, then I went to Mexico and saw the Mayan ruins. By age thirty-five, I didn’t believe in God at all. At forty, my thoughts have changed even more.
So I told her, “I believe that if there is a God, it isn’t a Him or Her. It’s a power or a force that our human brains will never fully understand. But I’ll tell you this, if you know that feeling, then it knows you too. And you don’t have to worry about it not knowing you. All you have to know is that it’s there for you if you need it.”
She said, “I think I’m going to be Hindi like Nani and Nana.”
“You mean Hindu?” I said.
“Well they pray in Hindi,” she said.
“They might,” I said, “but their religion is called Hindu. Either way, it doesn’t matter what you pick. You’ll change your mind a dozen times by the time you’re my age. Believe whatever you want,” and I walked away and left it at that.
Then she yelled, “Daddy!”
“I don’t think I’m going to go to church anymore with Grammy,” she said.
“That’s up to you Babe,” I said. “But you know what?”
“What?” she said.
“It’s good to keep an open mind and learn as much as you can about all of the Gods because it’s part of our culture as humans and you never know…”
She seemed to be ok with that and about a minute later I could hear her singing her little Hindu prayer in Hindi that she sings with her Nana, asking for protection over the family. It seemed it was her way of getting right with herself and with who she considers her God. And as a Freethinker, I’m perfectly fine with that.