All in the Day of a Toddler: Jesus Talk

It started last week, when she found the hardcover edition of The Passion of the Christ, settled onto the couch and paged through it slowly, pure face etched with concern as she ran fingers down the images of wounds and blood. I noticed what she was looking at and contemplated the fact, usually reluctant for such graphic images to be in the hands of my not-yet-two-year-old. Then, she patted the pictured face gently and said quietly,

“There Jesus. It’s okay Jesus. I’ll kiss it better now.”

Since then, she’s been mesmerised by His death and what it means. We’ve gone through our stack of Bible storybooks time and time again, paging through them slowly. She listens with wide eyes as I simplify the words for her and paraphrase the passages for her understanding.

Yesterday morning, she awoke after several fitful, restless cries, and I went in to hug the bundle of fuzzy pajamas and tempestuous bed hair to myself.

“Mama, I’m scawed!”
“What are you scared about sweetie?”
“Jesus! He’s a bit sad! Does He feel betta now?”
“Did you have a dream about Jesus?”
“Yeah! Jesus cry a bit! But He’s betta now.”

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All throughout the day, she kept her favourite book tucked under her arm and followed me around, asking to talk some more about Jesus and inserting applicable comments about Him into every snack and toy and colouring page. We sat often, her begging for more details, and me, searching my mind and vocabulary for details she could understand: the nails, the cross, the grave, the three days, the stone that rolled away, the facts of living again and going to heaven.

“Jesus in heaven now! Isn’t that cute mama?” And then I faced an unexpected paradox when she cried and crumpled onto the floor because she couldn’t go to heaven as well right there and then.

I am overwhelmed often. Not so much by the normal messes or new attitudes or pre-nap grumpiness, but by the fact that I am responsible for not just a child, but her eternal soul. She stares at me, brown eyes wide with interest and wonder, mouth slightly ajar as her little mind absorbs like a sponge the words I speak to her. She makes innocent statements that deserve acknowledgement and asks questions that make me bite the inside of my cheek till an answer is rapidly secured. Yesterday, I didn’t always have an answer, just a feeling of love so fierce that it physically hurt as it welled up inside, and a sense of urgent care for this tender little heart I’m supposed to shepherd. Yesterday, I didn’t always have an answer, but could only bury my face in those downy curls and whisper desperately to Jesus that I didn’t know how to tell her about Him, but could He please let her love and know Him in wilder, deeper ways than I ever knew?

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