Faith, like a child


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
'my sweet freedom' photo (c) 2009, Victor Bezrukov - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Faith, like a child, you are wilder than I want.

You are harder to predict than you once were, 
Harder to control.
Oh they are illusions of control, I know. 
But I try, 
When I dress you up in fine, fashionable clothes so that you will look like the others,
When I keep you at home to protect you from the world, 
When I try, in vain, to fight the pull of time so it won’t change anything about the way you laugh, the way you whisper, the way you play—all these little ways I know are yours alone. 

Faith, like a child, you never ask permission before growing, 
before stretching your arms out in the world like you own the place,
before suddenly turning inside yourself, 
before surprising me or disappointing me or throwing me off with some new habit, some new quirk.
Just when I think I know who you are, you evolve into someone new, and we have to get reacquainted with one another, like we’re starting all over again.
Why can’t you just stay still? 
Why can’t I rock you through a lullaby without you wiggling free? 

Faith, like a child, you are the object of my greatest hopes and fears.
The thought of your death preoccupies my thoughts. 
You are far too fragile, far too dependent. 
It could happen, you know—
because I looked away for just a second, because I didn’t notice that something was wrong, because I exposed you to an illness, because I entrusted you with the wrong person, because of circumstances beyond my control. 
I want to hold you tighter, but I no longer trust my arms to carry your weight. 

Faith, like a child, you frighten me. 
I am afraid to blow on your glowing embers, for fear that my breath will spark a wildfire,
Or snuff you out. 
I am afraid to hold you too tightly, to hold you too loosely, 
Afraid of when you look too much like me, 
Afraid of when you look like a stranger, like someone else’s child.

But faith, like a child, you are resilient,
Like your Sister, you bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.
You are braver than you ought to be, more trusting than is safe.
Like a child, you make the most fanciful connections between things—
Metaphors that only make sense between the two of us,
Art that in its simplicity gets right to the essence of a bug, a sunrise, a family, a death. 
You are whimsy. 
You are curiosity. 
You are petulance. 
You are grace. 
You are a little hurricane of life and destruction and healing that upsets everything in your path. 
Faith, like a child, you ask too many questions. 

Faith, like a child, I love you. 
Unconditionally. 
And I vow to do my best to provide discipline when you need it, freedom when you need it, protection when you need it, and space when you need it, 
So that when the day comes, you will be ready to care for me. 

[This is a very rough draft! I wrote it as I was trying to make a decision about whether or not to put myself in a vulnerable position that could very well trigger another crisis of faith.  As I was weighing the pros and cons, I began to think of my faith like a child—is it ready for this? am I protecting it too much? am I not protecting it enough? I’d never really thought about my faith like that before. Have you?]

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