Explaining God to a grieving child

I’m blessed to know a young lady who has been growing up near and dear to my heart. We have a weird relationship in that most of our exchanges occur without being in each other’s presence. I share stories with her mom and she retells them to the girl. Mom shares the girl’s ideas and feelings. They go straight to my heart. I don’t have filters for kids and kindred spirits.

Her mom is a member of my chosen family. The girl and I are connected by shared love.

I forget what’s normal sometimes. Maybe you have to be a little F’d up to really appreciate just how our relationship works and why it’s so beautiful to me. Maybe you just always felt like you belong and never doubted whether you were special. If you’re free to take that stuff for granted; I’ll urge you not to but I probably don’t care to know you.

I can’t imagine explaining the countless ways in which my people convey and give love. It’s simply amazing how I feel when they choose me as family. It means that I belong. I’m claimed. I’m special and loved. Those who owe me nothing give me everything.

The girl is beautiful inside and out. She’s super smart, talented and overflowing with potential. She is empathic, compassionate and good.

And she sees herself as broken like me.

She has always sought to understand why people do what they do, but she breaks my heart because what she wonders most is why her daddy fails to love her.

I spent a lot of my life hating men like him. It took me a lot to accept that hating them doesn’t help those they hurt one bit. She loves him. In spite of everything, she wants nothing more in this world than to be feel loved by him.

Nobody hurts like innocents hurt.

Her questions show wisdom that transcends her age. People who don’t know better would call her an “old soul.” People like me know that there are things that cause you to grow up quickly.

And all of them hurt.

My young friend comes from a Christian family. She believes in God but she’s mad as hell with God and with damned good reasons. She’s trying to come to terms with things that most of us struggle with throughout our lifetimes.

She asks why God allows bad things to happen to good people? She asks where was God when she was in the depths of loss and pain? On my good days, I barely understand such things myself, and I’m nearly 4 times her age.

I offer her what works for me: I believe there is something that loves us very much. I don’t think it looks like a bearded white guy standing on clouds. I don’t think it can be explained by any one faith. In fact, I don’t think we can even scratch the surface of it.

So I don’t try to understand It. I try to experience It.

I believe the most important aspect of a human being is their free will. If a person uses their free will to hurt me, that is not God hurting me. That is a person hurting me. If God were to stop the person from hurting me, then He/She/It would be taking away the person’s free will. God doesn’t make bad things happen, but God allows bad things to happen.

Why did God give you a daddy that doesn’t love? Sweetheart, I’m sorry. I don’t think it works that way. You know where babies come from. Sometimes all men do is help make a baby, break some hearts and leave.

That’s not a daddy. That’s just a man who aided in your conception.

Once a child is conceived, it grows and changes and becomes. In the best of people, that never stops. We continue to learn and heal and transform. Every time we do that, we become something greater than we were.

None of us choose to suffer. We’d have chosen to be loved and safe and special. I can only offer you this two small concessions:

#1 You are loved and precious to many.

#2 Those who have suffered the most have amazing spirits. We are the ones who change the world for the better. We are the artists and the healers of the world. We are the dreamers and creators. Nobody lives or loves like we do.

The world needs you, little one. Do not let your heart continue to suffer for what is not. Be open to what can be. God is nothing like your father. God is like your mother times infinity.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.