She wriggles in the pew while I hold Isaac back from his unrelenting desire to rush Papi on the stage. Billy is playing guitar in the band, and the Spanish worship music is a live soundtrack for my own personal circus as Gabriella talks in a whisper-shout and Isaac tries to escape my arms with Houdini-like artistry.
Suddenly, Gabriella looks up, barely makes eye contact, and asks into the wind, "Does God speak Spanish?" I mumble an enthusiastic, "Of course!" while Isaac executes a sudden and impressive backbend, leaving me holding "boy rainbow."
That was our whole conversation on a topic I've wondered about for years. Not which language God speaks exactly, but how bilingual kids understand God and faith and spirituality when church is in their minority language.
Does God feel distant? Will she only connect to God in the limited vocabulary of her Spanish? Are we giving her the tools to understand faith in English or Spanish? Am I over-thinking it all?
Of course, Gabriella hears about God in English as well. We read Bible stories before bed. She listens to her Adventures in Odyssey CDs. And she's a big of YouVersion's Bible app for kids.
Still, I wonder if my quick response that of course God speaks Spanish says to her that God doesn't speak English? I actually think that bicultural kids have a very unique and sacred opportunity to understand God.
They can appreciate on a deeper level how God came to earth and joined our culture. How Jesus was fully man while also fully God. They can have deeper insight on what it can mean to be in this world but not of it. It is truly beautiful.
We may not be having those discussions just yet, but I can see Gabriella's brain turning. She wants to know God, and she is already asking questions about culture. My prayer is that her bicultural identity actually brings her closer to God rather than creating an artificial distance.
Did you attend church in your minority language growing up? Does language affect your relationship with God? How do you help your kids - whatever their language(s) - to understand God?