My eyes began to water under the harsh glare of the fluorescent lights. Or was I holding back tears because of the question my nine-year-old had just asked me? There we were, walking through Walmart, when I heard the most timid of voices ask, “Can you please tell me about sex?”
I tried to wiggle my way out of the bind. “We already read that book. Remember? Do you need to know more than that right now?”
“Mom, please tell me everything.”
The dreaded phrase. I wasn’t expecting it so soon. Nine seems too young. Nine seems innocent. And for goodness’ sake, in Walmart of all places!
Despite these hesitations, I knew I needed to seize the moment. The two of us were hardly ever alone. I needed to take the time. So there, with the Rollback smiley face staring at us with that huge grin as though it knew what just happened, I started in on the conversation. I started with how it was meant to be. I started where the Bible started. One man, one woman, naked and unashamed.
My nine-year-old, however, wasn’t so interested in the story of Adam and Eve, and so she pressed. How does it happen? What goes where?
So as we picked out the cheapest toilet paper and grabbed cleaning supplies, we had the talk.
The situation was less than ideal, and I wondered if I was doing things the right way. Shouldn’t we be sitting down? Shouldn’t she be older? Shouldn’t we have a Bible and some other authoritative book with stick figures? I second-guessed everything I said. Somehow we made it through the store and through the conversation. Being in public made the talk less awkward and more awkward at the same time. My daughter had good questions, really good ones, which went into more than just the how of sex. Those questions led us back to the Bible, to the truth of our brokenness, to the hope of redemption. God’s goodness and mercy followed us up and down every aisle of that store.
I have confidence in God’s ability to take my frail efforts, my stumbling words, my inadequate knowledge and use them to help my daughter see how amazing and powerful he is. That confidence in his ability to use my words gave me hope, and I return to it when I think about how my daughter’s understanding of sex will develop.
I told my baby that she could ask me anything at any time, and she has. Since that conversation we have had many follow-up talks. My hope has never been in my ability to communicate everything exactly right. Rather, it will always be in my God—who uses all things for our good and his glory—and in his glorious gospel, which transforms even awkward, stilted conversations into moments where grace shines through.
Mom, when it’s time for you to have the talk, I pray you’ll invite God into the conversation.