Comforting our kids in tragedy
My dear friend, Kimm Crandall, wrote the below post yesterday. It brought hope to my heart, and I pray it will bring hope to yours as we deeply grieve and pray God's comfort and peace for the families of the victims in Newtown, CT.
Helping our Kids in Tragedy
I had just dropped off my four sweet children to their little elementary school when I heard the horrific news of the Newtown, CT shooting spree.
My first reaction was to ignore it. I was annoyed at people on my twitter feed for wanting to share the ugly news with me when I didn't silicate it. It's why I don't watch the news. But really it's just me hiding from the ugliness of the world.
Realizing the stupidity of my misdirected anger I began to read more. My denial soon succumbed to fear. Fear of the unknown for my children.Trying to assure myself that they are completely safe by saying, "That would never happen at a school like ours." Is that not one of the first things that we hear people say in tragedy? One parent was quoted as saying, "It's alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,"
After the fear came the guilt about how I had become angry with my daughter over a stupid Nintendo DS this morning. It came from not having asked her for forgiveness and for all of the other many ways that I have failed to love my children this very day.
Tears came as I thought of those parents who had a rough morning getting out the door and will never have a "do-over." What were their last words? Did they feel that sense of relief that I often feel as they watched their kids enter into their classroom to be somebody elses "work" for the day? You know you have those days too.
As parents, where do we all go from here? Our kids are coming home from school soon and as much as I hope that they don't know what happened, as much as I want to hide it from them, it is inevitable. Eighteen kids the same age as them have been brutally murdered and my selfish heart wants to gloss over it by giving them cupcakes.
The question that I must ask myself is the same question that I ask over and over throughout my days, "How does the gospel speak to this particular situation?" That's been my prayer over the last hour. Lord, show me where you are in this. How do I deal with such tragedy and most of all how can I give my kids hope today?
I've written about helping our kids when it hurts but this is on such a larger level. How do I help them with the catastrophic?
I am in no way a child psychologist and I'm not pretending to know anything about anything. I'm just a mom wanting to love my kids. Wanting to know how to talk to my little girl who just finished months of counseling for extreme anxiety and OCD over death, and wondering where this will take her. Just a mom trying to explain to my five year old that this is not like a video game. It's an attempt at being there, at helping them to process while I do the same. Helping them towards a greater understanding of our need for a Savior.
For starters, I must first remind my own self of the gospel before I attempt to answer my kids' questions:
-I take my denial and I bring it to the Lord. He shows me that in this world there is pain, we cannot escape it but he will walk through it with us.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." Isaiah 43:2
-I take my fear and I bring it to the Lord. He shows me that without him there is much to fear but because I am his he will always care for me and love me and my children.
"So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones. Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." Genesis 50:21
-I take my guilt and I bring it to the Lord. He shows me that even if I were one of those parents who lost their child and I had not loved them before school that there is no condemnation.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1
And then I plead for grace. I cry out to the Holy Spirit to enter into my car as soon as they plop their backpacks down and tell me the news that they assume I don't already know.
First of all, nothing that I have prepared to say will ever meet the importance of just sitting and listening. But when the listening ends and the questions come there is only one thing that will speak hope to my children and that is the gospel of God's love for them. "...and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:5-6
Second, we must know that it is always ok to say, "I don't know." We are not super-humans, having every answer to the meaning of life. All that I really do know is that even when I don't know, God does. "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"Romans 8:31
Finally, I can only hope to instill in them that no matter what is going on in our lives, the most important thing that they must remember is that God is with them and loving them through every moment. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:3-6
The list of ways to speak hope to our children goes on and on but I have groceries to put away and melted mascara to wipe off of my face. I will leave you with one last thing that is on my heart - hold your children close, whisper God's amazing love and care for them into their ears and know that it's ok to not know all the answers. We serve a great and mighty God who is greater than all of the sin of the world and right now his Son is sitting at his right hand perfectly communicating to him all of the prayers that we cannot even begin to utter. He loves us THAT MUCH!