Mommy, is heaven real?

IMG_0643“Mommy…is heaven real?”

Has your child asked you this question?  Mine has, and this moment has a way of kicking open the door to my heart’s panic room.  I no longer believe in the literal or picturesque concept of heaven I once held as a child.  There are no more diaphanous angels flying around the clouds for me, the large pearly gate has disappeared and St. Peter has quietly walked away from his responsibilities as gate keeper.   As I’ve had my own children and have become more knowledgeable about the physical world, I have found it difficult to simplify the spiritual.  I have consciously decided to raise my children outside of any organized or religious doctrine.  This is my secret, in a world of the faithful, sometimes I feel like I stand alone.

As a child, my mom took my brothers and me to church every weekend.  The lessons my parents and childhood faith taught me were invaluable.  I have passed those lessons on to my children, but not with the words “because the bible tells you so,” linked to them.  Treating others as they would want to be treated, trying hard not to judge our neighbors, being loyal to themselves and to others, they have these lessons embedded in their hearts.  They have an amazing foundation, unbelievable character and are more loyal and kinder than the average Joe.

I’ve made this decision to raise them outside of religion because of an intellectual instinct that I have further developed over the years.  Whether it is politics, religion or culture – if someone tries to emphatically tell me that “this is exactly how it is,” I instantly reject what is being said unless it can be empirically proven.  I am always on a mission to find my own truth, but it is a life long journey.  Einstein said it best: “I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”

Therefore, when my future scientist asks me ” Is there such a thing as heaven,” I have to take a deep breath.  He is my deep thinker, my death fearer, and he is his father’s son in that he needs to have proof.  Even more importantly, I am his mother and understand that answering this question means I need to reassure him while not dismissing his intellect. I tell him the truth as I honestly know it.  “Many people believe there is a heaven honey.”  My deep thinker then asks “well, how do they know mom?  can they prove it?”  More deep breaths accompany my words, because I know that he needs reassurance, and that his question holds other questions wrapped inside of this large one.

Questions like:

“if something happens and you depart this earth will I see you again?”

“What is this really all about?”

“Do I need to be afraid?”

I plunge into the conversation.  “There around 100 billion planets in our galaxy.  It is hard to wrap our heads around that number.  Now think about this for a second…..scientists estimate that there are up to 200 billion galaxies in the universe.  We are part of something magnificent, so beautiful and wonderful and I believe that the ultimate truth is not simple.  Scientists have discovered that energy cannot be created nor can it be destroyed and there is energy in us.  So baby?  Maybe heaven is a concept, that we are all interconnected through love and creation but the honest answer is that I just don’t know.”

He frowns at me and simply says “but will I see you again?”

I answer “if there is a way, I will find it.”

He is satisfied with my answer, perhaps you are not, but he is.

8 thoughts on “Mommy, is heaven real?

  1. Lauren Rae via Facebook

    Very thoughtful and insightful! I too have this struggle, but I’ve gone the other way. I don’t believe in “religion” but I believe in Christ as my Savior and God as the creator. Religion leaves a bad taste in my mouth because the physical world has berated it to death, literally. However, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit give me peace that no earthly possession could ever give. In living in an imperfect world as imperfect beings, all we can do is continually seek the Truth and leave the world more loving than we entered.

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  2. Katrina

    This seems to be a struggle to many, a lot of us grow up and are taught religion as our parents see it, and as we find ourselves questioning or changing as we mature. It is usually hands on experiences that stay within our heart and mind that strengthen how we believe, and some of us might not have many of those experiences. Growing up in a very “religious” atmosphere, I saw a lot, went to church whether I wanted to or not, and as I grew up, was able to see who truly had a good heart, and also see those that showed up on Sundays because it looked good. It was the experiences that kept my faith in God over the years. I had a hard time sitting and listening to someone preach, when they were not practicing what they taught, so I backed away from going to church little by little, and then, my father got sick, within three months, cancer had taken most of his energy and the last week of his life was in a bed at Walter Reed Hospital, as weak as he was, he was still very much aware of his surroundings, one day, he looked to the corner of the room and got upset, we asked him what was wrong, and he said it was very dark in the corner, so we put on the lights, but it was still dark to him. He would doze off and wake up and look at the corner, and it was still dark to him. As the days went by he would see people and talk about them standing in a line, (we checked to see if he was losing his mind, but he knew his name, where he was and why), about two days before he passed, he looked into the corner and his face lit up, when we asked, he said a beautiful woman, so bright was there, just waiting, this day we did not have the extra lights on. The doctors came in on his final day and we all decided to keep him comfortable, but no more procedures, all of us were surrounded in the room, some of us sleeping on the floor or on chairs, it was really early and he looked up at that same corner, his face lit with excitement as a child on Christmas morning, when asked, he said that there were to very beautiful and bright woman/angels, then he looked at my mother and became very sad, he told her that they were waiting and that he had to leave with them. When my mom told him it was okay, he became excited again…about two hours later, some of the kids had gone out to get coffee, my sister and I were in the room, I helped the nurse clean my dad, as his body was like dead weight, after the nurse left, he dosed for a bit, when he woke, he looked at me and sat straight up, said he had to leave, I laid him back down and told him it was okay, we would leave later, he said “Honey, I HAVE to leave” at that moment, it hit me that he knew where he was going……………….I will never forget this day, never forget the two beautiful angels coming to take him to his final resting place…………these are moments and experiences that give you the faith to believe that there is after life.

    I think you answered your son in an amazing way, and as he grows, he will find himself and how he believes, and one thing for sure, he will know how loved he is. God’s greatest gift to us is Love, and what a great gift to pass onto others.

    The unknown is so hard to comprehend, especially to a child, I haven’t seen the movie or read the book, but I hear that the book “Heaven is Real” might just answer some questions.

    Your boys are so very blessed to have such a caring mother and friend all wrapped up in one!

    Reply
    1. Rainey Post author

      I just referenced a book above in reply to Margie’s comment. Your story is very similar to the stories contained in this book and is really so very beautiful. The truth is more complicated than what a child’s reference point is…or maybe it’s not.

      Reply
      1. Katrina

        Heaven is Real is about a little boy that experiences Heaven while in surgery, Sal and I are thinking about renting the movie to see, I will let you know it is, I was thinking of having Sephy watch it too. I thought this might be more on a child’s comprehension level. I will look for the book you referenced too!!!

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  3. Margie

    I agree that no one really knows what heaven is. I think it simply means being in the presence of God. I am wary of is saying something can’t exist because we can’t prove it. Can we empirically prove that love exists?

    Reply
    1. Rainey Post author

      Well stated. We cannot prove that love exists and some scientists would say it’s simply a chemical function of the brain, although most of us would reject this notion. I’ve recently read an amazing book titled “Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death.” It was an amazing read. What’s different about this book is that it doesn’t wrap the idea of heaven in a way that links it to a specific religion. It makes you think that the next area of exploration for the medical community may just be what happens to us when we pass.

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  4. Circus Mum

    My daughter asked me this question just last week. In the middle of the night, after what I can only suspect was a bad dream with someone she loved, dying. It was hard to answer at 3am but I basically said the same as you. That many people believe there is and as we don’t come back from death I can’t say yes or no with certainty, but if there is a way for us all to be together after death, then its a wonderful thing.

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