You know what I love the most about kids? Kids tell it like it is. They don’t see hatred until they learn it from others. I think with all the recent shootings and violence, I’m reminded of this on a daily basis. Yesterday, I was reminded by a very sweet little girl just how innocent kids are. She’s an interracial child and has no trepidations of those who are white, black, asian, etc., she accepts people as they are. I attribute this to her parents. As we sat there in the pew together, she looked at me and reminded me that God was going to take care of us. Her mom is fighting for her life with cancer and this little girl said that God was there.
In my own life, I struggle with my faith sometimes. I don’t always understand why I’m having to deal with things in the manner in which I have. When my marriage fell apart I was really angry. I was pissed because my ex had lied about just about everything, I felt that my marriage had been a sham, that I was a pitiful excuse for a woman, that God was taking things out on me because he wouldn’t let me have a child, and then I realized it wasn’t about me. There were bigger issues out there and all I could do was focus on myself. Why? Because at the time I let greed and insecurities take over.
When I learned to stop comparing what others had versus what I did, I found that my life started to balance a little bit. I had to be okay with myself before I could let someone else love me. I now understand that what I had with my ex was never a healthy love. I let him change me and not for the better. I let myself slip into a world that I never really wanted because I was afraid to stand up for myself. I didn’t want to deal with his temper tantrums and yes, if he’s reading this, he had a lot of them. I wasn’t perfect by any means. But I never deserved the treatment he dished out. No, he never hit me. What he did was worse, he would blow up over little things, get mad, leave the room and five minutes later come back like nothing was wrong. By that point I was angry that I had been used as a verbal punching bag. I wasn’t really able to get upset much and when I did he would feel guilty for a small amount of time and then the pattern would start all over again.
I would pray to God that I was enough. When we divorced, I didn’t know what I was going to do until the moment the divorce went through. If I had stayed, we never would have been able to be happy. If I dissolved the marriage, we wouldn’t be happy but we wouldn’t be miserable either. It didn’t help that during the marriage I had developed feelings for someone else and never acted on them. I guess in a way you could say that I started feeling something for someone else because my ex didn’t show me the kind of respect that I deserved. He thought flowers and jewelry made up for poor excuses and lack of support. He stayed friends with people who had hurt me emotionally and used me along the way. Then he wondered why I was so bitter. My prayers didn’t seem to be answered. I tried so hard to foster and adopt. It didn’t work. I wanted so badly to be with the person I fell for. That didn’t work either. He got really sick and kept me and everyone else at bay. I’m not going to beg to be with someone who won’t show me any respect. I had that in my marriage. I don’t need that in my life.
I started getting involved in volunteering with kids. That has changed me for the better. These kids have shown me that they are willing to look past their differences. It’s only when they are unduly influenced by the adults that I see the hatred and bullying forming. Some of these kids grow up in unhealthy environments. The parents don’t really act as a positive role model. They use a lot of profanity, belittle these kids, show kids by their own examples with drug and alcohol abuse, worry these kids with all kinds of problems and keep the children from being kids. There is no right or wrong method of parenting. But when a parent consistently uses negativity around their child/children, that child/children picks up on the behaviour. For my ex’s sake, I really hope he’s learned not to lie around his daughter. She will pick up on that and start doing it herself. My ex had a really bad habit of telling people what they want to hear. If his daughter picks up on that then accountability won’t be something that she will deal with.
Children have reminded me that faith is not for the weak. It is for those who are open. You don’t have to be strong to have faith but you do have to develop a strength to stand up for what you believe in. You have to be willing to take chances even when others have wronged you to the point you don’t see the good or the positives in much of anything. Sometimes I feel left out of things from my friends who have had children. I think that’s normal when you can’t have a child. One of the main things I learned is that it isn’t about you. It’s about allowing yourself to learn from kids. The little girl who sat with me yesterday made me feel really special for that small amount of time. She was almost like an angel who reminded me that we are never alone. There are always going to be people who love and accept us for who we are as long as we allow them to be there. Because I have faith in God I choose to believe that this was a sign from above that told me that God doesn’t leave me either. I’m the one who has left him more than once and that is on me. No one else.
With all of the recent shootings, my heart has consistently dropped. I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. Disgusted, outraged, hurt, concerned, hollow, confused, frustrated, angry, and just downright sick to my stomach are all emotions that come to mind. One of the shooters had a kill list. Why? What did all these people do to deserve the fate handed to them? Was it because they did something to the shooter and didn’t realize it? Was it because they were there at the wrong time? What could have made the shooter want to hurt others? Only God and the shooter know. When I hear things like the shootings, I wonder where God was. Some would say he was there in the thick of things. I like to believe that because I want to think that those people who perished found some sort of peace in crossing over from this world onto the next. I want to believe that God was there helping to protect as many as he could before there were more casualties. It’s instances like this that make me question my faith. It’s also instances like this that children remind me that there is so much more to faith than just thinking we know all the answers.
The last couple of weeks our church had a Vacation Bible School program. The kids loved it. They seemed to thrive in that environment. If there’s one thing that I’m noticing, it’s that kids seem to have an understanding of life and faith that as adults we seem to have forgotten. It’s the simple things in life that make them the happiest. As they grow, that’s when the complications start. There are some kids in our church who are without a doubt bullies. Their parents don’t want to admit it because the parents exhibit the exact same behaviour. They won’t accept responsibility for their child because their child is so wonderful. If kids are not taught to be mean and bully, they have a better chance of staying good. If they are taught that the only way to get ahead in life is to be a bully, then that’s what they will do. There are a couple of women who attend my church who are bullies and truthfully, they make me question my faith too. It’s only through the actions of the kids who constantly remind me that there is good in the world. You just have to look for the positives rather than dwell on the negatives.
As my journey with faith struggles continue, I hope that I can remain someone who treats others with respect. I don’t want to fall prey to the anger from the past. I also have learned that children help us to forgive. I may never be blessed with a child of my own. I am very blessed though in the fact that the children around me remind me every day of the little wonders of the world. It is through their innocence that I see we are all dependent on each other and faith. It doesn’t matter what we believe in as long as we all understand that we are all here on this earth for a reason.
It’s okay to struggle with faith. It’s even okay to look for signs that you may need. What isn’t okay is to treat each other in a mean girl fashion. We’re only on this earth for a little while. Let’s make every day count.