Red Riding Hood is a deep thinker. She ponders ideas and philosophies, turning them round and round in her beautiful young head until she begins to find the sense, the meaning behind it all.
This is most apparent when it comes to pondering her faith. We feel strongly that it is our duty to teach our children what we believe to be true. If we saw them heading towards certain and imminent death – walking onto a busy highway, for instance – we’d be compelled to stop them, correct them, and show them the right way. The safe way. To save them from certain death. In the same way, it is only right that we teach them what we believe to be the only way to be truly Safe.
Having said that, we encourage them always to seek the truth. Truth is robust. It cannot be contained. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be denied. It certainly should not be feared. Above all, it must be sought. I encourage my girls to ask questions, to keep digging into all they know, until they are completely satisfied that they have found the truth. And then I encourage them to dig some more. No question is taboo. No answer is too unpalatable to be given.
No matter the cost, we must know the truth. I want to know the truth. I want to believe the truth. It’s not a case of wanting what I believe to be true, although of course I want that. Who wouldn’t want the assurance of knowing that their beliefs are true? And who would wilfully continue to believe something they know to be false, after all?
Quetions are our friends. They lead us to truth. So the girls are never discouraged from asking as many questions as they can think of, to anyone who will take the time answer.
A shaky foundation?
Red Riding Hood has a persistent fear. She is concerned that her faith isn’t real. We’ve covered this ground over and over again, and it’s taken me some time to get to the heart of the problem. This week we had a breakthrough. Even though Red believes in the fundamentals of our faith, sometimes she has doubts. These very doubts provoke the questions of all true truth seekers.
When I understood that, I could address her fears properly for the first time.
The fact is that it is these very doubts that create the need for faith. They justify faith. Without them, all we’d have is knowledge. Knowledge is good and pure, valuable. The Bible tells us that the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. That is the way to pure truth. But faith is a beautiful thing. It brings with it a sense of mystery, an aspect of the divine. Faith sets us apart from the animals. Faith makes us human. It gives us purpose. It gives us hope. Faith gives us the strength to keep going.
Without faith, we are less than we could be. Less than we ought to be.
And if we have no doubt, we cannot have faith. Our doubts define the course of our life’s journey towards truth. But they serve a higher purpose in creating the requirement for a deep, unwavering faith. In these ways they do us a great service.
How about you? Do you ever doubt your faith? Do those doubts make you question the validity of what you hold to be true? I encourage you to recognise those doubts as opportunities for growth. Allow the questions they give rise to to lead you down new paths of enquiry. Embrace the faith that holds you to the truth. And never, ever fear truth. As St Augustine famously said,
“The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.”