If I were a betting woman, I’d wager that the last time Josh and I were in a church was either for a wedding, a funeral or a baptism. It’s not that we’re godless heathens or anything; quite the opposite. We’re both believers and fairly spiritual — I was raised Catholic and Josh was raised a Christian of no particular denomination. But as adults, and as a married couple, we haven’t embraced a particular church or indoctrinated our child into any specific religion, and that works for us. Our own brand of spirituality blends our Christian roots and values with a new age-y/Buddhist quest for enlightenment and living with presence, all mixed up with our golden rules of being kind, doing good and to live and let live. All of this is well and good, until our very bright 3-year old starts asking for specifics about God….then, well, there’s a good chance we may have scared the shit out of her.
Hailey: “But where does God live?”
Andrea & Josh (known hereafter as Godless Heathens): “Well, God lives everywhere, sweetie. He’s always here, watching out for us and taking care of us. He loves us very much.”
Hailey: [eyes darting around the room in a paranoid, twitchy kind of way] “You mean he’s in my room watching me right now!?”
Godless Heathen #1 (Josh): “Well, not watching you, like spying on you. Just making sure you’re okay. He does this for everyone. He’s not like a real person you can see; he’s like air, like a cloud.” (Josh makes a blowing sound with his mouth.)
Hailey looks terrified.
Godless Heathen #2 (Andrea): “God is all around us in everything we see, like in the ocean, in a butterfly, in a tree and in other people we love. But most importantly, he is in you, in your heart.”
Hailey: “There’s a little man in my tummy???!!! Show me! Show him to me right now. Daddy, is there a man in your tummy too?”
Godless Heathens: “Oh, sweetie, not in your tummy, he’s, oh, well, nevermind, let’s just forget this conversation ever happened.”
Godless Heathen #2 whispers to Godless Heathen #1: “Let’s back the hell away from this conversation now.”
For the next week or so, we worried that we irrevocably fucked up our kid about God. Then we went out to dinner with Josh’s parents and Hailey turns to her grandma and says, “I know where God lives.” Oh, no, I think. Let’s back the hell away from this conversation now….But then Hailey leans over to her grandma, taps on her chest and says, “He’s in my heartbeat.” And I just smiled, because, if what my 3-year-old thinks about God is that he is with her all the time in her heartbeat, well, then, we did a better job than I thought we did with our first significant God conversation.