It was bound to happen sooner or later, I’d just really been hoping for later. It. The Talk. That moment when they start asking questions that you aren’t sure how to handle. Yeah, you want it to seem great, but you also want to be realistic. And you don’t want to scare them. But there it was, way before I was prepared for it; The Question, asked by a tearful Gates, wanting some reassurance from me.
“Mommy, when do we get un-dead again?”
Gulp. Deep breath. Clearly it is an issue that is weighing heavily on his mind right now, and I’m not sure where it came from.
I sat on the couch with him snuggled next to me, tears pooling in the corners of his eyes. “I don’t want to go to heaven,” he said, “I want to come back to our house.”
How do you explain the concept of heaven to a six year old with communication issues?
I reassured him that he wouldn’t need to come back to our house, because we’d all be in heaven some day because we all love Jesus. I talked about how he wouldn’t be sad, and no one would get sick or hurt in heaven. He wanted to know if there were burglars in heaven. “Well, yes, if they decide that they love Jesus. But in heaven they won’t steal anything. In heaven no one hurts anybody.”
The conversation has continued over the last few days, with constant reassurances that he isn’t going to heaven any time soon (please, Lord, let that be so), that he won’t need to come back to our house because we’ll be there. And there are a multitude of other small reassurances, small embroideries on the little we know about heaven; yes, he will get to have his blanket; yes, there will probably be swimming; yes, there will be rooms to go to if you need a rest. Since even as adults our views of heaven are varied, I can’t imagine God getting bent out of shape if one small six year old thinks God will come down and get his blankie for him when he goes to heaven. In fact, I’d rather that be his image of God; a God who cares about the little things, like blankies and maybe even Lego Racers. (Apparently heaven must also have Lego Racers.)
There will be time enough for him to sort out deep theology later, right now my job is to present an image of a God who loves him more than he could possibly imagine. I hope I’m doing my part.
All things considered, I think The Talk went fairly well. It only gets more complicated from here on out, doesn’t it?