Rainbows in the Dark and Faith Formation

rainbow in the darkI was driving down the road last night, on my way home from church, rocking out to the radio. Then the song Rainbow in the Dark by heavy metal legend Dio came on. I started doing my little rock dance in the car (just enough movement to rock along to, not so much to look like a total idiot). Later that night, as I was getting ready for bed, I caught my self singing “Like a rainbow in the dark,” trying to sing (and failing) in Dio’s voice.

Music is catchy. Rhymes and rhythms get stuck in our head, whether we know it or not. My dad once told me that when we listen to music or watch TV/movies, it’s like having shrapnel stuck in us and cauterizing the wound, keeping it in side the body (he’s a Vietnam veteran and I never questioned exactly how he got this illustration, and I don’t want to know). It is very true. We cannot unsee or uhear something. Once it is seen or heard, it is registered in the brain. And this affects and effects how we see the world around us, how we deal with things like faith and God and Jesus.

As the chorus from Rainbow in the Dark kept going through my head into the morning, I decided to look up the lyrics to know exactly what was stuck in my head.

Do your demons – do they ever let you go
When you’ve tried – do they hide – deep inside
Is it someone that you know
We’re just a picture – we’re an image caught in time
We’re a lie – you and I
We are words without a rhyme

No sign of the morning coming
‘Cause you’ve been left on your own
Like a Rainbow in the Dark
Rainbow in the Dark

What disparity. What pain. What a reflection of the feelings of so many that resonated with Dio’s words. The very image of a rainbow in the dark is one that is of color and beauty unable to be truly seen. This is how so many of us feel. This is what so many people struggle with.

rainbow in the dark 3When I was a kid and well into my teens, when a song came on the radio, every so often, after the song was over, my parents would turn off the radio and ask us to tell them about the song. What did it mean? What was the message the artist was trying to get across? What did I take away from it? They did the same thing after we watched movies. I do the same today with my children.

We were driving to Chicago one weekend and Jukebox Hero came up on my playlist. After listening to it, I turned off the music and asked my 8 year-old and 5 year-old what the song meant. My 8 year-old son asked me “What’s a jukebox?” Good question. In the age of iPods and what not, there aren’t many jukeboxes. We then began to talk about the song and what it meant and what we could take away from it. Deep stuff for an 8 year-old and 5 year-old.

I’ve been thinking about faith formation a lot lately. How do we help form and develop faith in each other? How do we nurture the faith of others, especially our children? How do we help our children be prepared to interact with the world and deal with conflicts of the mind (when two conflicting ideas, those taught by the church/family and those from others) when they come up? How do we help them develop a faith that they own and are able to hold on to when these conflicts of the mind come up?

Helping my kids discern and interpret the world around them is a beginning. Helping them be able to process songs, TV, and movies is a beginning. I do the same with the Bible. Each Sunday morning, either on the way home or over lunch, I ask my kids what the sermon was about and what they learned in Sunday School. I then ask them what does it mean and how can they live it out. If they are able to tell me in a sentence or two what the message was about or Sunday School was about, I know it was a success. If not, then I know I need to work on it.

rainbow in the dark 2The same is true with understanding my own faith formation and how I interact with songs like Rainbow in the Dark. I also want to help others interact with songs like this. What does it mean when we talk about the demons inside, or when we feel like a picture caught in time, like we’re a lie, like a word without a rhyme? How does my faith in Chris and in God deal with these issues?

When words of the music around us clash with our own faith, there creates that conflict in the mind, how do I deal with two opposing view points?

I think we need to create a safe place for children and even for adults (maybe especially for adults) to explore and handle conflicts of the mind when it comes to faith. Faith becomes stronger when conflicts of the mind are dealt with in a healthy manner. When they are oppressed, pushed down, denied, or even told that they might lose faith or deny Jesus and the resurrection, this does a disservice to them and does more damage than good, causing problems with faith instead of strengthening it.

So, there might be rainbows in the dark. There might be issues and conflicts of the mind. But building up ways to handle these conflicts of the mind, discerning the world around us, allows for growth. On the other hand denying it, secluding oneself and others away from it and being escapist about it, hinders and hurts more than helps this growth.

How can we allow healthy growth in the faith when we face rainbows in the dark?

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