Whatever possessed me to believe this in the first place? Why, my mother of course. The fact that it took me eleven years to learn differently? Well, I’d say that’s just a stroke of bad luck. You can imagine my embarrassment as it was pointed out to me by my high school boyfriend. He never was certain if I was kidding or not. Sadly, I was not.
I actually believed that within every water tower that you might pass along the roadway, monkeys were flitting and jumping about as monkeys do. Just living their monkey lives. It didn’t occur to me that I never actually saw any of these monkeys. I’d seen them many times at the zoo. Besides, my mother told me it was true. At least, I thought she did.
At the age of six, our family lived very near to our state zoo. Being in such close vicinity, we frequented the road that led to the zoo often. I always knew that we were almost there by the rust speckled tower that overlooked the forest surrounding the zoo. The monkey water tower. My mind exploded in anticipation of a monkey melee each time we neared the tower.
Looking at it as we drove by one morning, I must have wondered if my assumptions about monkeys were correct. I surmised that if they lived on that side of the zoo, they certainly must use the tower for something. A monkey getaway? A monkey hideout? The perfect set up for a bunch of primates.
“Mama, is that where the monkey’s live?” I asked, pointing specifically to the tower.
“Yes. That’s where they live, honey,” she replied as she glanced in that general direction.
And that is all it took. Straight from the largest source of knowledge within my grasp, it became truth. From her mouth to my ears, firmly etched in my brain.
It wasn’t that she purposefully misled me. In fact, she knew nothing of my belief. It was something we discussed once in passing. Besides that, what she told me was something that I desired to be true. Something I’d dreamed of each time we drove by. I wanted it to be so.
It never occurred to me how illogical this might be. Nor, did I find it unusual when I began noticing these towers all over the countryside. The Carolina’s must have a lot of monkeys living around, I figured.
Now, I’ll admit that I’m probably the only person in history to ever believe that monkeys lived in water towers. However, I’ll bet that you can think of something that you came to believe during a total misunderstanding. In fact, in the awkwardness of the moment, or in a rush to answer a question and move on to other things, haven’t we all presented brief and incomplete truths at times?
As a mother of three young children, I sometimes worry about unknowingly misleading them. Not when it comes to things like monkey towers—because, hey, those kinds of mix ups make us who we are—but, when it comes to our faith.
As someone who continues to learn and grow in her faith, I worry that I might not explain things completely and fully. I worry that I’m not doing all I should to encourage my kids to draw near to God.
As I look back on the many years that I missed out on being in the family of Christ, I am struck by the many misunderstanding that I had about God. Information that I had gathered throughout my life. Misunderstandings that kept me on the other side of the Christian faith. I don’t want to be the reason for misconceptions in my children’s faith.
After all, they are trusting that what we tell them is true. Their inability to discern the truth from complex concepts makes them unusually vulnerable to being misled. Though these may just be conversations in passing to us, they are learning moments for our children. They are reaching for something that they want to believe in. Something they want to put their faith in.
As parents, we are the greatest source of knowledge within their grasp. What we say in passing could be etched in their minds for a lifetime. Holding on to each small bit of information, gathering and storing them away in the shelves of their little minds. Once placed, it can be very difficult to remove. That is a huge responsibility for any parent.
Thankfully, we are not alone in this. Even in these imperfect conditions, God is there with us. Each time, every time. God is also working diligently to build a relationship with them. When I discuss things with my children, He is there during those talks helping to guide my words. Helping to open my children’s hearts to understanding.
To this day, I still catch myself thinking about monkeys as we drive by water towers. Of course, I know better (but oh, how I wish it were true!). Retraining your beliefs can be a difficult thing to do. Thankfully, God is there with us along the way. Pricking our hearts to ask the questions, guiding our minds through the process, and sometimes providing us a storyteller who speaks to our hearts greatest desire.
What quirky misunderstandings have you had in life or faith?