Three years ago there was a bombing on U.S soil at the Boston Marathon. It was senseless (aren’t they all?), outrageous and scary as hell. Suddenly bombings were happening to us, to the collective us, and our children saw and heard about it, which meant we had to talk about what they saw and heard. We had to figure out what to say, had to figure out a way to truth that didn’t scare the hell out of them.
This was my contribution to that end and sadly the violence, the bombings, have escalated since this post was first published.
What Do We Tell Our Children?
Bombings. Murder. Hatred. Heartache. Misery. Bloodbaths. Injustice. Deceit.
We walk and live among evil; it is unavoidable.
When faced with grim realities, what do we tell our children? What do we teach by way of example? How do we share peace and love and understanding, so they may take it with them as they walk and live?
Define What You Believe:
My faith as a Christian is key to any peace, love or understanding that I may have or share. Without it, I’m sure I would sharpen my sword and declare war on all who wish us harm.
To fill the well of faith from which I draw, I spend time each day with God’s word, contemplating, listening and praying for direction and wisdom. Time spent in devotion serves to remind me that this life is temporary, as are its evils, and my goal is to live God’s will for my life, not my own.
I don’t always succeed, but continue my efforts.
Understand What You Believe:
Understanding I will journey through this life on to the next, gives me great peace in moments of crisis. While I may initially react with great emotion (gnashing of teeth or beating of breast are my go-to drama-filled reactions), it takes less time at this point in my life to remember that I am His and all is well, no matter the situation.
My faith that everything works for the good of God can be a hard-won state of being. I know that it’s easier said than done; it’s easier imagined than practiced. Life can cut us to the bone; our instinct is to slash back. It can be easier to let go of faith in those moments than to hang on to it. But…
Have Faith In What You Believe:
My faith saves me. Wait. Jesus actually saved me, but my faith in that belief changes my perspective, it changes everything, which in turn can save me from myself when trouble punches me in the gut and I want to exact my revenge.
I’ve endured plenty of punches, while leaning, counting on, my faith. In these surreal days, as trouble has come swinging, I’ve spent more time at the well drawing out what peace I can, yet remain horrified and dismayed by the evil that lingers.
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Prepare To Be Challenged:
To believe is an assertion made anew every day, every hour, and every minute. Some days it’s easy to wrap my arms around my faith and feel safe (smug even), other days I hold it at arms-length and question what the hell I was thinking. It’s the realism of being human. Questions arise, some incredibly difficult to answer. Yet, with each problem and subsequent resolution comes the opportunity to sharpen our belief.
My faith is the bedrock of who I am. And while it is the basis for most of my decision-making, not every decision is faith-based, because I am forever flawed.
Where Does That Leave Us:
Life is full of moments that take us down from behind, that seem hopeless, that try to choke-out our faith and our joy. Life is full of people telling us we are wrong. We are stupid. We are doomed. Life is full of hatred and misery and injustice. I have to decide in those moments: What do I say? What do I teach? How do I share?
Thankfully, life is also full of moments and people who surprise us with an outpouring of grace. People who tell us we are worthy of love, as is. We are beautiful. We are gifted. Life is full of peace and love and understanding if we seek to find it, if we listen for its voice, in the din of humanity.
It is my job to pry free from the dark chaos, to stagger back, to gain my footing and refocus perspective based on my faith and not on my human frailty, not on my vanity, not on my vengeance, not on my vast imperfections. It is my job, as a person of faith, to offer grace, to bind wounds, to forgive, to believe, to allow God’s love in the face of evil.
What Do We Tell Our Children:
We tell them that life is not fair, that evil lurks, that we’ll want to grab pitchforks and torches and rout out the demons from this world to keep each other safe.
We tell them that it’s normal to feel this way, that we feel this way.
And then, after we have raged against the injustice and heartache of incomprehensible acts, we tell them we must allow love. If we do not, we are no better.
We say that love is not weakness and does not negate consequence.
We tell them that allowing love crushes the power of hatred.
We tell them how much we love them and that we’ll get through everything together.
The truth of love, that’s what we tell them.
It’s not the entire answer when faced with grim realities, but it’s a light-bearing start.