No, Christine, your daughter didn’t see angels

Gotta love what comes out of the mouths of children at times. Some of it is comedic, some of it is sickening. And some of it is just deserving of a facepalm. A lot of it we don’t question.

So what should be the response when a child says she saw angels in her room?

Mommy! Guess what happened last night? I saw three ANGELS!!! I woke up last night and there they were…watching me! One was tall and skinny and she was up on the curtains, another was on the other side of the curtains and she was smiling like the skinny angel. Then there was a little one that was kind of chubby sitting with her legs criss-cross applesauce on my stuffed animal bin! She was so cute, mom! She had a little look like she was going to giggle. They were all white but you could see through them. They were all looking at me and kept smiling, and I smiled back. Then, when I woke up this morning, the angels were gone.

This is from a piece by Christine Carter over on the Huffington Post called “For those who don’t believe“. She initially shared it on her own blog a pinch over three years ago.

Children can have wild imaginations at times. Their minds are very malleable, to say the least, to the point where children can be coached to say things as truth that never actually happened. The reasons behind it are many, but in Carter’s case, the reasons are quite clear:

My daughter has been told countless times, how her Father in Heaven loves and cherishes His beloved children. Much of her life has been immersed in learning of His Grace and His Glory. I have shared precious details of His Hand guiding every step of her glorious and miraculous journey. She has grown to believe.

She has grown to believe. And the statement following this paragraph is quite simply, “And how she has seen his Angels”.

No, Christine, your daughter did not see angels. Children’s imaginations run wild at times, and they will eventually learn to tell the difference between what is real and what their minds manufactured. You assert toward the end of your article that “There will come a time, when she will remember that night long ago, when she saw three angels smiling at her.” And what will she say? You hope that she will look back upon it as a reminder about her former faith. Or she may look back upon it and think “I was a child then and I had a wild imagination”.

Depending on how old she was when this happened, she may not remember it at all. And as memories are imperfect, wildly so at times, your attempt to get her to write down her experience was only step 1 of many to not remembering what she saw accurately. For example, I know that you didn’t reproduce what your daughter said completely accurately as well. You were in the ballpark, but unless you have an audio or video recording, those aren’t her words, but what you thought were her words.

One other thing to bear in mind: the angels your daughter describes aren’t the angels that are described in the Bible. Instead what your daughter imagined, and what many imagine angels to be, is an anthropomorphized version conjured during the Middle Ages and reinforced in mainstream productions including, but not limited to, Touched by an Angel. Personally I prefer the representation of angels in the Diablo series — cloaked warrior figures with celestial wings instead of what you’d normally see on a bird. If angels are real, that’s how I’d like to imagine they look. After all, if that’s actually how angels appear, God’s one hell of a bad-ass.

Instead it sounds like what your daughter described came from a cartoon — in fact, given the description, they actually sound familiar but I can’t quite place it right now.

Here’s a question that I don’t believe you’ve answered: what has your pastor or congregation said about this? Sightings of angels have made entire cities places for pilgrimage by those seeking miraculous transformations in their lives. Has the Vatican or any official of any church visited to talk to you and your daughter and see her bedroom, the place where the sighting supposedly took place? I’m guessing not. Which tells me you don’t sincerely believe your daughter saw angels. Instead you just want to believe she has.

Your daughter “seeing” angels is not the same as angels actually visiting her. A child’s imagination can be quite active at times, manufacturing things the child initially believes to be real. This has been demonstrated numerous times and in numerous ways. I recall a 20/20 special I saw some years back where a group of children were told there was a fox in a box, though there wasn’t, yet the children believe it so much that a child opened the box and said he saw the fox. Again, there was not actually one there. But the children believed it so much that they were afraid of the box and, when one child opened it, claimed to have seen it.

I don’t believe for a moment your daughter saw angels. She thinks she did. You think she did. But that doesn’t mean she actually did.