The circle of life

The weather was so beautiful yesterday! I was glad when our super-busy and rather stressful day finally wound down and we were able to go for a walk/bike ride around the neighborhood while we waited for daddy to come home from work (he beat us, unfortunately!). Anyway, we passed a friend’s house and stopped to pet their dog in the backyard. Quite some time ago, they had two but they had to put one down. My nearly four-year-old remembered having stopped to pet two dogs in the past, so she asked why they only have one dog now. I suppose it’s spring, Easter is just around the corner, so it’s a perfect opportunity to talk about the cycle of life and death and the meaning of Easter, right? Our conversation went something like this:

Avery: Why they only have one dog?

Mom: They only have one dog. [It takes me a minute to process that she remembers they had two.] They used to have two. [I hesitate.] One of their dogs died. After dogs live their full life out, they die. [Long pause, and I am trying not to cringe, not really wanting to talk about this but not wanting to make it taboo or scary either.]

Avery: I have a cat. My kitty won’t die.

Mom: Well, actually, after our kitty lives out her whole life, it will come to an end, too. New kitties and puppies are born all the time and then after they live out all their days, they die. Then new kitties and puppies are born.

Avery: Why?

Mom: Well … That’s the way the God made the earth, it’s the circle of life. [I said some other stuff here but I don’t really remember what, I am certain I was just rambling.]

Avery: People die, too? [I must note, she said this rather upbeat–but it was almost more of a statement than a question.]

Mom: Yes, people are here for short time, born as babies, then after they live out all their days that God has given them, they die and go to Heaven. That’s why Jesus died for us so that we could go to Heaven with God after we are finished here on earth. All you have to do is accept …

Avery: Then, there’s new people! [Increasingly enthusiastic.]

Mom: Uh, yes, babies are born every day. That’s … [I’m interupted as she cautiously rides through a puddle and then is no longer interested in the conversation.]

So, even though I didn’t quite get to the whole story, I was excited when it was over that I had even had the opportunity. It all went so fast! It would have been so easy instead to just ignore her question or say, “Yep, they have just one now.” And say whatever I want about where the other dog is. But, what an amazing opportunity to lay the foundation for her understanding of life, death and, most important, the Gospel. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back; I didn’t plan it, I didn’t expect it, and I don’t take any credit for what I did or did not say. I’m just so thankful that God used me in the moment to say those words in a loving way. Avery doesn’t understand yet, and I know that. But when she’s ready to understand, I won’t have to backpedal through any lies or mistruths or confusion simply because I avoided the truth.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

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