Calling God

As a general parenting rule, I encourage my children to get along. As entertaining as running my very own Fight Club may be, my sanity requires Fric and Frac to, at the very least, be civil to one another.

For the most part they comply without my having to knock their heads together. But there are moments when I'm tempted to stick them in a small room together, lock the door and see who emerges victorious. My Darwinian instincts will one day land me in a boatload of trouble I am sure.

Earlier this week my kids tested my instincts. Doors were slammed, voices were raised and tempers were heated. I was mystified to what the latest brouhaha was all about. Since I'm not one to let these things take their natural course and let them pass on their own (read: I was about to lose hearing in my good ear from all the shouting), I asked what was going on.

"Fric thinks she is better than me!"

"Frac is a moron!"

Read those two sentences simultaneously and imagine two blonde teenagers yelling them in my face at the same time.

I forgot the cardinal-parenting rule about 'one at a time.' It took a few minutes but eventually I was able to get to the root of the problem. While the two kids were out building rafts to sail on the giant slough on the back of our property, they started talking about their dead little brother which morphed into a conversation about heaven which then turned into a giant argument about Christianity.

"Frac says he doesn't believe in God!"

"Fric thinks she's better than me because she is saved!"

There are moments when I'm wholly unprepared to be the sole parent on duty. This was one such moment. It's not like we have never talked about God and Christianity and spirituality in general. The months directly after Shale's passing, we spoke of little else. Mostly, since the kids were only 9 and 8 at the time, we talked about what happens when someone dies. Where they go. Does God really exist?

I'll admit my husband was much better at this aspect of parenting than I was. He was raised a Christian and finds comfort in his beliefs and has no problem explaining or defending them.

But I came late to the Christian game, as I was raised in a largely agnostic home. One parent was a quiet believer and the other was a quiet atheist. There wasn't much talk about God or spirituality at all in my childhood home and it wasn't until years into my marriage that I found myself calling myself a Christian.

My fledgling faith took a beating when my son unexpectedly passed away. I found no peace or solace with my beliefs and I was mired in a game of 'what if'. It was hard to reckon a merciful God with the reality that my son died a painful albeit swift death for no discernable reason. (His coroner was unable to find cause of death and his autopsy was a complete failure.)

Our community did little to help resolve my grief and my pain. More often than not I found their religious platitudes and pithy well-meaning words to be annoying or insensitive. I was pissed at God and I wasn't in a place to forgive Him for taking my son away from me.

Apparently, my son is struggling with the same issues. While I still grapple with my faith, not prepared to give it up completely yet not ready to accept it completely either, my son has abandoned all pretenses and refuses to contemplate any sort of spirituality.

My daughter finds this wholly unacceptable as, much like her father and her extended family, she has wrapped herself up in her faith and finds great comfort and joy in it.

Which of course, led to raised voices and heated arguing and both of them looking to me to resolve the debate. It was as if they both think I know everything. I guess they haven't hit the teenaged stage where they think their parents are dumb as rocks.

The problem is, I can't resolve this issue for them. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize my daughter's faith and I certainly don't want to do anything to drive my son further away from it. But at this moment in my life, I can't honestly encourage a belief in God when I'm not sure I have any myself.

Between my son's death, my other son's violent past and now, more recently, that which I am prohibited from blogging about I'm having a really hard time jumping from the Christian ship while flipping my saviour the bird.

The blanket of faith I once wrapped around myself is now shredded and tattered and threatening to fall apart completely. I'm too busy trying to mend these rips myself that I find myself unable to sew together my son's struggles.

It boils down to I'm still angry. I'm still hurt. And those two things alone can undermine the strongest faith. Add to the mix scientific rational and let's just say, I'm pretty sure Saint Peter won't let me pass through the pearly gates anytime soon.

Well meaning people have tried to help minister to my shaky faith. But when I hear all the platitudes and promises, all the "God only gives you what you can handle" phrases, I want to kick them. How can I explain to my son how God thought he was strong enough to lose his brother, or how Jumby was obviously strong enough to be saddled with enduring hardship due to torture?

Why are some children born disabled when others are not? Why do some people get brutalized and others not? Why did I lose my child when you still have yours? I have no answers to any of these questions but that doesn't stop them from rattling around in my brain.

For the most part, I try not to dwell on the whys, and I focus my energy into the joys my life is enriched with. But I grapple with my fears and lack of faith every day. The truth is, I have no answers. I ping pong around spirituality in a way that must give Jesus Himself a headache.

If it weren't for the pressing sentimental need to know I'll see my son again one day in the after life, I'd likely throw my bible away and fornicate with Santa Clause. But there are some nights when the grief is so raw and consuming the only thing that keeps me from jumping off a ledge somewhere is the idea of being reunited with my child. I can't deny the comfort that idea of faith has brought me.

With my children waiting for me to impart lasting words of knowledge and to side with one or the other, I floundered.

I looked them square in the eyes and told them, "That's enough. Neither of you are completely right, so stop fighting."

The squawking resumed full force. Apparently my children didn't like the kernel of wisdom I had just imparted.

So I did the only thing I knew to do.

I called their father and handed them the phone.

My faith in his parenting abilities was the only thing I believed in at that moment.

I only wish I could resolve my own spiritual problems so easily.