Wash Away Sins with Chlorine

So in all fairness, I know what the C in YMCA stands for. I do, really. But I was completely blown away when Bryan went to pick up Tony from the YMCA summer program and the counselor met Bryan, grabbed his hands, and was overcome with excitement as she shared the news that one of Tony’s counselors had convinced Tony to take Jesus into his heart. And she would love for us to consider him being baptized in their pool.

Bryan, stunned, stammered, “I think I need to talk to Sarah about this.”

I can’t talk about Bryan’s religious beliefs – they are not mine, and he’s traveled his own journey and come to his own conclusions. But I can talk about mine. I believe that there is a higher power and a delicate balance of good and evil, but mostly that there is innate good in people. I am far from a fire and brimstone kind of person, and I typically feel that most organized religions are too a la carte for me. (We take THIS part seriously, but don’t read THAT chapter, because it doesn’t fit our current ideology. But THIS part is literal and we believe it, even though THAT part doesn’t have relevance in our church.)

That said, I can tell you that Bryan was a little surprised that this was happening at our community summer camp.

18477620766_50665aab1a_zI was getting ready for our show that night and Tony came in to talk to me about it. Tony, I’ll remind you, is my most sensitive child. He is my heart, in another body. He wants to see the best in people and wants everyone to feel loved. He’s a firm believer in happy endings and he is the child who will see a rainbow after the storm.

Tony sat down next to me on the bed, and handed over a well-worn, obviously second-hand Bible. “I got this book today,” he said. “I’m on page 2.”

Page 2, I said. Did they just tell you to start reading this?

“Yep. And I’m on page 2. These words are really hard, Mom.”

These words are hard for grown-ups too, bud. What is this book about, so far?

“This book is what you have to read to get into Heaven. I’m gonna try really hard to read it.”

What about kids who can’t read? I asked. How do they get into heaven?

“Huh. I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about that,” he said.

I’m sure this is a great book. We can talk more about that later. So what else happened today?

“I said this prayer to invite Jesus into my heart. Now I can’t die.”

Hm?

“God made Jesus die. So now we don’t have to.”

At this point, I’m having to rationalize my answers. I’m not well educated in religious rhetoric, although Bryan is, so I had to base my reactions on what I thought to be true.

Well, bud. God didn’t kill Jesus. People killed Jesus.

“No, God did. So we can’t die.”

We will die, honey. We will all die. It’s part of life. I know that’s scary, but it’s not something to be afraid of. We all will die. Some people I love very much have died. It’s sad and I miss them very much, but I promise that they died and are gone.

“But what about the garden? Those people in the garden?”

I’m not sure I know that story – can you tell me?

“Yeah, there were these two people in a garden and they weren’t supposed to eat this one thing – something, but I can’t remember what – and then they did eat it as an accident and they got in trouble.”

Wait, it was an accident? Or did they know they weren’t supposed to eat it, but did it anyway?

“It had to have been an accident, Mom! Why would they eat it if they weren’t supposed to?”

And that is my boy. He is so good-hearted that he couldn’t even believe that Eve would willingly do something that would anger God.

So Bryan and I are confounded. If Tony’s interested in religion, I’m more than happy to explore that with him – but in ways that he can understand. And not “You can ONLY get into heaven THIS way” checklists, because I don’t believe in that. And as Bryan pointed out, we don’t want to put Tony in a very awful position of having parents who are not part of “the church” and worry about saving our souls.

But all of that aside – TO BE BAPTIZED IN THE YMCA POOL IS JUST WEIRD.

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8 Responses to Wash Away Sins with Chlorine

  1. Jessica June 23, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    Oh, his sweet heart!

    Jacob went to a Christian preschool and I don’t think they taught him anything I wouldn’t agree with but a 4 year old’s thought process and memory are not the same as an older child. We certainly still go back and forth about things he thinks are right and I know are wrong, in a biblical sense. Do you have a friend you trust who can be a mentor if he is interested in this? And I was an adult when I was baptized and I feel strongly that my children be older or teens before they can consider it. Not just because they want to play in the pool at church!

  2. Nanette June 23, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    I have no words of wisdom, but I think I had a similar reaction when my 6-year-old regularly came home from her public school last year, asking me questions about God, Heaven, and religion after speaking with her very religious deskmate. There’s a lot of, “Um, yes, people have different beliefs about that kind of stuff.” (My husband is sort of Jewish, more culturally than faith-based, and I think I consider myself agnostic or more along the lines of how you described yourself.)

  3. Aunt Gee June 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    …At the Y?…. Kids PEE in that pool…

  4. Cass June 26, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    Aunt Gee’s response…exactly what I’m thinking. I guess God is there too though. But ew.
    Cass wants you to read ..Define Success Planner

  5. MrsDragon June 26, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    Maybe purchase a book or two that covers all religions at an age appropriate level? So he can see what they are saying but also see that it’s not the only opt-in.

    • MrsDragon June 26, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

      Option, not opt-in.

  6. april July 2, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    I have a real problem with them talking to your young child about these things without explicit and detailed discussions with his parents. I am a very go-with-the-flow sort of person but I may have flown off the handle if they did that to me so I’m guessing you handled it with more grace than I would have.

    The boys talk about God a lot and ask about different things and I’m not sure where they get it – my MIL is Christian but everything else they are involved in is pretty secular. I answer questions the best I can and otherwise ask them to think about it and that everyone has to make their own decisions. My own religious leanings are “spiritually muddled”.
    april wants you to read ..Hiatus

  7. Lauren July 24, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    It sounds like you answered his questions beautifully! I’m with MrsDragon on getting a book about religions. The book “What Do You Believe?” has a lot of information and visual interest – http://www.amazon.com/What-You-Believe-Big-Questions/dp/0756672287
    And honestly I don’t think it would be out of line to mention your concerns to the Y about his level of understanding. It’s a legitimate, non-grinch issue to say, “Hey, my son came home thinking he would literally never die. I’m not sure that you’re teaching this in an age appropriate way.”

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