When my six-year-old son was born, my husband and I decided not to raise him in a church. Neither of us believed in God. For the first two years of our son’s life, he knew nothing about God. Then my husband’s mother passed away, and my son’s doctors diagnosed him with multiple life-threatening conditions. After years of being atheists, my husband and I turned to God to try to make sense of our hardships. Slowly, we began bringing our son to church, teaching him about Jesus, and praying with him at night. Then one day, both my husband and I realized we didn’t believe in God. The reversal left our son confused, and he lost the protective force of Jesus in his life. After months of confusion for my son, a gift from a friend became the new protective shield for his life.
For the first few years of my son’s life, we had a fun bedtime routine. As I tucked my son into bed, we would pray to Jesus in the sky. Most nights we thanked Jesus for his toys, pets, and for his friends. Sometimes we talked to Jesus about keeping him safe from the shadows in his room. As we finished our prayer, my son would say, “I love you, Jeesee.” We followed this routine into my son’s fifth year of life.
My husband and I volunteered each week at our local church before service. While we assisted parents with Sunday school registration, my son attended class with his friends. Sunday school for my son consisted of playing with kids, singing songs, and learning a story from the Bible.
At home, my husband and I decorated our house with decorative crosses and wall hangings with passages from the Bible. We often listened to Christian music for children, and he watched Christian programming for children.
My son believed Jesus protected every item in his life. Jesus looked over his toys, kept him safe at night, and guarded his friends against harm. By the age of five, my son believed Jesus was the best thing in the world. We created and reinforced those beliefs in our son by how we lived our lives.
Slowly over time, my husband and I realized that despite our best efforts to believe in God, we could not subscribe to the teachings of Christianity. During a walk with our son, we admitted to one another that neither of us believed in God.
While my husband and I felt immense relief in our shared sentiments on God, we knew our change of heart complicated our son’s life. For years we told our son to believe in God and instilled those beliefs in all facets of our lives. However, now we needed to completely alter our course and attempt to erase God from his life.
Shortly after we discussed our beliefs about God, my husband and I started to change things in our home. We removed the crosses from our walls. Faith-based wall hangings were removed from all parts of the house.
My husband removed all the Christian decorations from my son’s room. We purchased posters to cover his wall. Our son’s room became filled with his favorite toys, and dinosaur posters filled up space on the wall.
On Sundays, our family stayed at home. My son no longer went to play with friends at church. The first few weeks were tough. He wanted to play and have fun at church. As the weeks passed by on the calendar, he stopped asking about the church and his friends.
We deleted all Christian programming off his Ipad, and we stopped listening to Christian music. He filled his time by learning about dinosaurs and playing with blocks. For the most part, the transition from belief to disbelief wasn’t that difficult.
On occasion, our son asked about Jesus or commented on Jesus in the sky. Throughout our transition, I expected him to ask to pray before bed, but he never asked my husband or me to pray with him. Over time, he spoke about Jesus with less frequency.
After several months passed, my husband and I assumed our son had all but forgotten about Jesus. Yet, a new addition to his room by his father elicited a profound realization in my son’s mind.
A friend from the United Kingdom crafted a beautiful mobile to hang from my son’s ceiling. She wanted him to have something to protect him while he slept. When the mobile arrived, my son fell in love with the dinosaurs that hung and spun from the string.
My husband hung the mobile next to my son’s bed. At night before he fell asleep, my son watched the dinosaurs gently spin and guard him against the monsters in his room. My son was enamored with the piece, and he fell asleep soundly knowing the dinosaurs protected him.One night, shortly after my husband placed the mobile, my son made a startling admission to my husband. Before my son got into his bed, he walked over to the hanging dinosaurs. He looked at his dad and said,
“Daddy, I don’t need Jesus to protect me anymore because I have dinosaurs.”
The next day, my husband shared my son’s admission with me. I smiled and realized my son’s revelation made complete sense.
For years, we told my son Jesus protected him and kept him safe. He believed that he was never alone because Jesus was always there. When we removed Jesus from his life, he lost that sense of stability and security that he was never alone.
For the first few months before my son had the dinosaur mobile, he had anxiety and difficulty falling asleep. When we removed Jesus from his life, we took away his safety net. After we placed the mobile, he stopped talking about the scary shadows in his room.
By replacing Jesus with dinosaurs, my son felt protected and confident he wasn’t alone. I realized then that Jesus was never God to him, but an idea that kept him safe from harm.
I learned a profound lesson from my son that day. God for our family was never something we believed. Instead, God was a way for all of us to feel protected and secure. To leave our faith, we have to find other means to fulfill that desire for security.
My husband and I have found ways to feel secure. I believe strongly in science and evolution as the reason for our existence. My husband is now a Heathen that reads about Norse mythology. Both of us found a way to feel safe in our lives.
For my son, his security is now found in dinosaurs. As long as he feels secure and confident, I can happily get on board with believing in the power of the dinosaurs on his mobile.
Everyone needs a way to make sense of their time on this planet. I’m grateful my son now believes in dinosaurs.
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