One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was my faith. And for me it is everything. It trumps all other gifts. It guides everything I do and comes with me everywhere I go. It goes far beyond religion and the walls of the church which often become marred with skepticism, cynicism, politics, and disappointment. It is a faith that sits deep in my spirit, that snuggles up tight in my heart, that fills me with such overpowering peace and joy, I sometimes cry out of gratitude.
While I think that the routine of attending mass every Sunday was valuable and important and remains valuable and important, my faith was really created inside the walls of my own home, by my bedside where my parents taught me to pray. They told me that little old me could talk to God directly, that He was always listening to whatever I had to say, and that if I listened hard enough, I would hear Him answer back.
So when I’d kneel by my bed or just lay with my hands clasped in front of me as I drifted off to sleep, I knew I could ask for forgiveness and be forgiven, I knew I could ask for protection and be protected, and I knew I could pour out my heart before Him and always, always receive love in return. And I knew, above all, that I was never alone. No matter how dark the night was, no matter how lonely or scared I felt, God was always with me, holding my hand, lighting my path, assuring me that He had a plan and it was good.
So, I know that as I’m trying to teach Finny about faith, as I’m trying to teach him about this God who loves him, I know that some of our most valuable lessons will occur at his bedside after the stories are read, just before I turn off his lamp. I need him to know that he is okay without me because while I cannot always be present, God can and is.
So a couple of weeks ago when I was putting Finny to bed, I pulled up his blankets and snuggled him in with his stuffed animals, and he said, “Mommy, I want you to lay with me.”
“Oh, not tonight, Finny. But you have your teddy bear and Thomas and your lamb and there all with you, by your side.”
“And God,” he said.
And my heart jumped.
“And God, of course, you always have God.”
And once again I was filled with that overpowering peace and joy, knowing that my little boy will never be alone, that he will always be protected, always be forgiven, always be loved by the God who created him.
So when I switch off the bedroom light, I know that he does not lay in darkness. If he knows he has God, he will lay in a light more powerful than a night light, with a protector more snuggly than his teddy bear. His faith will tuck him in far longer than I ever will, and despite all the fear and worry I carry with me, that gives me rest.