I used to be able to discuss anything while my children were in the room. My husband and I could flirt with each other in a way with our kids having no clue what we were saying. Then my daughter got old enough to discover that Mom and Dad talk about interesting stuff sometimes, and we had to start spelling our words. (But spelling is not my husband’s strong suit, so sometimes I had to spell words three times.) But the day has finally come that my oldest can spell, and my middle child is in the room too with her attention riveted on us.
So, this morning when my husband and I found out about the tragedy in Las Vegas, I had to think very carefully about how I was going to explain this to my children. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart ached as my oldest asked, “What happened Mommy?” If I only had it my way, I would shelter my kids from this information, but they go to public school with children who may have older siblings who were talking about the mass shooting. Perhaps their fellow students’ parents were watching the news as they were getting their children ready for school. Some of these elementary school students may have already seen disturbing footage of people lying still on the ground or running for their lives.
In these moments, I want to communicate to my children that our country, our world, needs prayer. They need to understand that although the world is broken, there is still hope in God, who reveals His love to a hurting world through us as we pray and help.
My kids will find out all too soon that scary things happen beyond our front door. There are times that I want to pretend that they don’t, and not speak about these horrifying events in our home, but as my kids grow, I also want to challenge them to think about how to walk out their faith in the face of such evil. Do we wish more harm on the sad individuals who hurt others? Do we point fingers at our public servants who are just trying to figure out how to handle these events? Do we hide away and not engage with our community?
The words I speak over my kids to calm them, to assure them of God’s presence, of His watchful eye and comforting arms in times of tragedy and pain, need to be loud and true and life-giving. They should be the same words that I would want to hear if it I was in despair. They need to lead to the Arms that could rescue me if I was fleeing for my life.
I don’t want my kids to shy away from what they hear, but to claim the truth that God speaks to us of His kind of comfort and hope, so that it would free them to proclaim their confidence in Him and not be swayed by the fear and division proclaimed by the world. I want them to look for ways to serve, ways to comfort and volunteer and be part of God’s healing work in the world. I don’t want us to lend our voices to the angry throng who, in their heartache, accuse and judge as they look for answers only the Lord can give.
The Proverbs say much about choosing our words wisely, and even at times, remaining silent lest we be proved to be fools. With the days I have let, and only God Himself knows how many those are, may my words reflect His heart for my children and His children.
“What happened Mommy?”
“Oh honey, sit here by me. I’ll tell you…”
Adrienne Gross is a writer based in North Carolina. She is a lover of travel, fitness, wine, good conversation and quality time with her friends and husband and three young children. You can find her blog at presentlysite.blog or on Twitter at @adrienne_gross.