Now, I may get in trouble on this one, but please stick with me and see where it goes. Let me just put it out there — this post, this blog, is not about Jesus, the Bible, the Koran, Buddhism, organized religion, etc. If you’ve been visiting TLT for any length of time, you know it’s about Trust, Love, Peace, Letting Go, Knowing You Are Enough, and Recognizing What Is. It’s for those who are Seekers of Truth.
If this resonates with you, please continue….
Earlier this summer, while shopping at the grocery store, I reached down in the produce section, and saw this wedged between two grapefruits:
My first thought was to look around and see who had dropped the $10. No one was close by.
I took a closer look at the bill and saw that it was a joke. It was a Million Dollar Bill. My next thought was, “I wonder what my kids would think of this?” I was curious to see what, if anything, their reaction would be. So I stuffed it in the side pocket of my purse and finished my grocery shopping.
After putting everything away back home, I pulled out the fake bill and showed it to my boys. With wide eyes, I could tell the younger one was impressed, or at least somewhat excited. The older one kept looking at the bill, then up at my face, playing out that visual tennis match for a few volleys, trying to determine what was up.
He called my bluff and I cracked a smile. The gig was up.
Even though they knew it wasn’t real, this odd, little object stirred questions. Who would waste their time to make a fake? And why such a large denomination? What did the back of the piece of paper say?
“Let’s see,” I said. The words were so small, I squinted hard to read them. Finally, with much effort, I got going. They sidled up beside me and helped out with their younger eyes.
In case you’re struggling, too, here are just a few of the lines.
It begins with the ‘Million Dollar Question': “Will you go to Heaven when you die?”
Then it gives a test. “Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, ‘Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on judgement day? If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart.”
As I read out loud, boys still looking along, I silently longed for the days before they could read — that way I could’ve changed the words and avoided the conversation that was sure to follow.
Like bird seed being pelted at me from close range after a wedding reception, their questions stung my skin. Was that shock I was witnessing on their faces? Fear? …what?
“Why does it say that, Mom?”
“Yeah, is it true?”
“I’ve lied before.”
“So am I going to Hell?”
“Is that really the way it works?”
As I stood there, head spinning, I decided it was time to take a deep breath. Yes. “Let’s all take a moment and take a few deep breaths. There. In. Out. In. Out. Okay. One more time.”
While we breathed in and out slowly, I felt very much like Winnie-the-Pooh, tapping my own head with my paw, “Think, think, think….”
Where do I start? What angle do I take? How do I not confuse them any more than they already are?
Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up. Oh Leslie, you can really screw up here.
Time to say a quick prayer.
And this is the thought that came to me: “How do I get them to think for themselves and not impart my beliefs on them?”
Now, this may sound strange. Isn’t it a parent’s job to impart these sorts of teachings?
Well, yes. But I felt that my husband and I had already done that. Not by sitting down and giving them formal lessons, but by being a living example, by having open conversations with them on an on-going basis, not just at specific ‘learning’ times. At this point, I felt that the stage had been set. At ages 10 and 13, rather than being told what to think, why not serve as a guide and a sounding board while they explored what they felt was their Truth?
Sound dangerous and scary? Yeah, I agree. It was — just a little. But the role of guide, not teacher, felt right in this instance. So I Trusted it.
And I’m so happy I did.
What a conversation that followed! They explored their thoughts and feelings out loud. They teased through the haze. They bounced ideas off one another. It was a real dialogue among brothers. About real stuff. The stuff that makes us who we are.
And I got to listen to ALL of it. Their thoughts. Their fears. I got to be present to watch this beautiful interaction transpire. I was experiencing a moment that parents would pay good money to capture on tape — maybe even a million dollars.
So, what did they conclude, you ask?
Well, after much back and forth, they decided, they would not be scared into any belief. Anyone who would try and use a scare tactic would not be high on their list of Trusted sources. They would instead Trust themselves in knowing who God is to them.
According to them, “God is a Life Energy. He lives inside us, outside us, and all around us.”
And as for Heaven and Hell? They believe they exist here on Earth. And only here on Earth.
They will not be scared into any belief. Nor should you. Not in the belief that you’re going to Hell if you do X thing. Or the belief that you’re not good enough. Or the belief that you can’t achieve your heart’s desire. Or, or, or….
Let the scary stuff be truly scary.
Here’s what we’re afraid of:
10-year old — realistic looking baby-dolls
13-year old — the dark
Me — having a mirror held up to myself when I’m pretending
What are you afraid of? Stop and ask yourself. What are you truly afraid of? Can you see it? Once you see it, are you willing to do something about it?
Remember, you may need someone to talk to in order to tease it out. Sometimes it’s the back and forth we do with others that allows us to Find and See our Truth.
Ask the question. Seek the answer. Then grow into more of the real you.
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