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Nurturing Faith and Curiosity

Nurturing Faith and Curiosity

Living the questions is good for kids
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"I beg you … to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

—Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

On my 17-year-old's nightstand are the books she's reading (concurrently): the Bible, Mere Christianity, and the Qur'an.

She's made a daily practice of reading the Bible for years, often journaling her prayers in a notebook, or sometimes in dry-erase marker on her windows or mirror. For example, written on her window right now is this: "The riches of your love will always be enough" Below it is a list of things she's grateful for, from friends and family to "clean water to drink" and her bed.

She's a young woman of great faith and faithful action. She leads a small group of three-year-olds at our church and goes with a group of kids from church to serve the poor every week. Last spring, she went on a mission trip to Africa (hence the gratitude for clean water).

She's also strongly opinionated, unafraid to speak her mind. She often tests the boundaries and has since she was a toddler. I believe her first word was "Why?" and she hasn't stopped asking it.

She's never been one to blindly believe. At age three, she suffered great angst because she told me she wanted to believe in Jesus but couldn't see or feel him. I told her that when she felt my love and my hugs, that was how Jesus showed his love to her. But I did not shame her or tell her what to believe. After wrestling with those doubts for a while, and hearing every week at church and at home that Jesus adored her, she invited him into her heart at about age four.

She lives this truth: Faith and doubt coexist in every human heart. God is big enough to handle the questions, and faith is strengthened by our curiosity and inquiry. When she'd come to me with questions over the last nearly two decades, I'd often start with "Well, what do you think?" We have talked, without labeling them as such, about theology, hermeneutics, interpretation, doctrine.

When I asked how the Qur'an reading was going, she said she'd noticed how similar Yahweh and Allah were. "Are they the same person?" she wondered, then quickly asked, "Is that blasphemy to say that?"

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Keri Wyatt Kent

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Keri Wyatt Kent

January 24, 2013  6:31pm

Tim, thanks for the comment. And not surprised your children are capable critical thinkers--that's a great reflection on your parenting (tho I would have issued warnings about Wayne Grudem as well, certainly).

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January 24, 2013  3:04pm

"you cannot run beside the bike forever." That's got to be some of the best parenting advice ever, Keri. My son went through Mere Christianity with a pen in hand and jotted things in the margin like "Proving God's existence from morality isn't very convincing" and "post hoc ergo propter hoc, really?". The interesting part is that he isn't criticizing the faith. After all, he's a believer and currently on staff at a church. He just thought Lewis could have done better. When we talked about this, I told him I had problems with some of the doctrine in MC too. Then with my daughter, she told me she bought Wayne Grudem's systematic theology book. I said that he had a lot of insight on theology, but also cautioned her to read with a critical eye because there are some doctrines I think he got wrong. She laughed and said she was quite capable of comparing his take on things with Scripture. Glad those kids are a couple of Bereans. Tim (timfall.wordpress.com)

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Keri Wyatt Kent

January 22, 2013  12:07pm

Ilene, Glad to hear that you're being brave! It's not easy. Be sure to keep letting him know that this searching is essential. A strong faith comes from asking questions and making it your own. And keep reminding him that you love him!

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