“Mommy, I’ve prayed to God a million times to heal me of this flu. I’m tired of throwing up and I’m hungry and thirsty and I just want to be normal again and I’m tired of watching Spongebob. I don’t understand why I’m still sick, and I’ve prayed so much. I mean, Jesus healed all those people in the Bible. So why hasn’t he healed me yet?”
“…Well… God pretty much made our bodies to heal themselves of viruses, I think. And those people Jesus healed in the Bible, well, they had problems with massive bleeding and leprosy and stuff. Their bodies couldn’t really heal themselves of that. So, um, maybe God hasn’t healed you of the flu because your body can do it? After all, it is a self-limiting condition, just like the homeopathic remedy bottle says…”
I just love the way children blindside unsuspecting adults with sincere questions that completely expose our sheer vulnerability and utter cluelessness.
Let’s be honest, I don’t know why God heals or doesn’t heal, when he chooses to, or when not. And when I’m sick (and I’ve been sick) I feel the same desperation, maybe even abandonment, as Ella. But instead of just telling her that I don’t know, or at least deferring the question to another unsuspecting adult (possibly even combining the two - “I don’t know, Ella, why don’t we ask your father?” is always a great option), I gave her some jumbled answer to try to comfort her soul, and mine. And I’m never really sure if my answers, as earnest as they are, do more harm than good. We’ll probably know in twenty years or so, or at least when we get smacked with a therapist’s invoice. (Come to think of it, we’re getting smacked with my own therapy costs – the white straps were released just so I could type this.) Whatever, the responsibility of nurturing her soul feels huge and daunting, particularly when I’m trying to simultaneously comfort my own.
Though, and I’m just thinking out loud here, maybe that’s the point.
Maybe our vulnerability and cluelessness is supposed to be exposed, so we can share our journey with our children. Maybe our kids don’t expect us to have answers to their questions, but the openness and honesty to think them through. Maybe they just need to know how we seek comfort and answers to give them the courage to go their own way, figuring this all out for themselves in a manner that goes deeper than any of my pat answers ever could.
Anyway, Ella is totally amazed at the healing powers of homeopathy. Her new wonder drug of choice, those little white pellets erased her nausea, allowing her to consume entire cups of all natural sports drink without spewing. Quite the miracle. But when I asked Ella what really healed her of the stomach flu, she responded with, “Oh, the Lord, I guess.”
“How do you mean?”
“Oh, you know, I prayed a bunch, and after a few days I got my wish.”
And there you have it.