make believing and believing...
I just got back from an early morning Daddy/Daughter Date with Kami and Aly. It was so pure and true that I'm honestly reeling from the experience.
My favorite part of this excursion was sitting on the same side of the table in a booth eating our hash browns, sausage links, hot cakes, bacon, and Sprite. That's right, Sprite! They didn't want orange juice. ("Don't tell Mom." That's what they kept saying as they asked the waitress for seconds.) I ordered the usual. A double portion of Corned Beef Hash. Oh, how I love that dish!
But I digress.
Back to sitting in a booth all of us on the same side of the table. My arms were draped over their little frames like towels hanging on bedposts. They would lean into my side digging in their shoulders as if to burrow a hole in my ribs. It was kinda ticklish if I'm being honest.
Every now and again I would peer up and the whole diner would be watching us. I tried to make like I didn't notice, but they would smile after my daughters would saying something funny and smirk when I would jest with them about something feminine. It was apparent that they were having a voyeuristic heyday. We talked about everything from Haiti to Hair. Monkey Bars to "Beer Bars" (that's what they call them).
Our times together move like the current of a river, swift and smooth. There is an effortless vein of conversation that is primarily driven by them. Aly asked me today how I'm doing with my New Year's Resolutions. Nothing like some solid accountability from your 8 yr. old. We talked about boys, dancing, American Idol, and why dads sometimes do silly things that are a mix between embarrassing and endearing. Kami put it this way: "My dad's really weird, but deep down inside he's a really good guy." I could smell what she was steppin' in, if you catch my drift.
One subject that came up was how tough it was to carry on a relationship with God when you can't see Him. I didn't have the most clean-cut feedback on that one, since that continues to be a struggle even for me at age 35. There are days when I can hardly stand this "imaginary friend" sensation and I'm about done with the feeling of "talking to myself" when I'm praying. Sometimes I think they're more o.k. with faith than I am being that they're comfortable with pretending still. But that's just the thing that makes me want to initiate this conversation with them. I don't want them to carry a "pretend" sense into their faith as they mature. Just because they are comfortable with "playing house", I don't want them to get comfortable "playing church" or "playing God". That line is a fine one and sometimes you're not even sure when or how you crossed it, but you did, and it's evident in the jaded and jilted affections of your heart. I'm sure I won't be able to prevent the mixture of the two along the way, I just want them to know that they can talk to me about it.
Taylor asked not too long ago, "Dad, is God real?" I know what she was asking. "Dad, I know that you say He's real, but I don't ever see him. I don't even mind making believe with you, Dad, if it makes life feel better, but I just need to know, are we dealing with a straw man here or the real deal?" I think that's what I'm trying to bridge--the difference between make-believing and believing. Fantasy and Eternity. Fiction and non-fiction as Aly describes it.
Even thought Cinderella isn't real, they still are fine with make-believing and derive continued enjoyment in her fictitious existence. I think they would be similarly O.K. (right now) with me telling them that God is like the Wizard of Oz. They would keep going to church, praying before meals and talking about Him "as if" he played a central role in our family. Because the veil between pretend and pure is somewhere between thin and non-existent currently. This is the beauty of innocence mixed with ignorance. It's blissful.
But just because they are O.K. with God being nothing more than another Disney character, doesn't mean I'm O.K. with it. I want to initiate a wrestling match with these characters that they are blending together like mixed wine...a "celebrity death match" of sorts. I want them to know that God is, in fact, true myth as C.S. Lewis describes it. It seems mythical and mystical, but it is true, and true indeed. "To good to be true, and yet still true."
Kami is much more comfortable with these conversations at age 10, but Aly is warming up to their importance as well. I just can't shake the remembrance of feeling on so many occasions when I was growing up that I was lost in a "dream world" of Christianity all the while "normal" people were humoring me like a deranged lunatic in a psych ward. "Oh, of course your talking to God, Jason. Now come over here and take your meds." Hallucination, Delusion, and Faith are eerily similar at times. I can see in my daughters eyes and hear in my daughters tone of voice at times the huge question mark they nurse as to reality of the unseen world. I'm trippin' to not address it with them.
I don't know if I'm doing everything right...scratch that...let me start that paragraph over. I know I'm not doing everything right, but I hope I'm opening a door to the room of questions instead of hanging a sign on it that says, "off limits". I want them to know I'm comfortable with their dark questions and that we can, together, wrestle with our wonderments without feeling like we're cheating on God.
I sat there scrunched on the same side of the table with my little diamonds thinking to myself, "Self, you are a lucky son of a gun. You best be lapping this up. Their hearts are soft and time is short. Make the most of it."
So I did.