We don’t have cable or satellite or digital television in our house. If it’s not on Netflix or a DVD, my kids probably haven’t seen it. So, keeping them in the dark when tragedy is unfolding all around us is actually fairly easy.
We just don’t talk about the news in front of them.
Of course it’s because I don’t want to scare them, and I don’t want to expose them to life’s messiness before they’re old enough to even comprehend that life can be messy and hard and horrific and tragic.
Of course I want to hide them from all the evil this world has to offer. I want to retreat someplace far away where I can keep them safe and secluded and sheltered and simple. I don’t want them to know that a man with a gun murdered twenty children in classrooms that look like theirs. I don’t want them to know that yesterday a little boy Madelynne’s age died because some crazy lunatic decided to explode a bomb at the finish line of a beloved marathon. I don’t want them to know that every time I hear these stories and watch these pictures I practice escape routes in my mind for the next time we’re in a mall, or on a street, or visiting a museum. I don’t want them to believe there are no safe places anymore.
But I do want them to believe in Jesus. I want them to believe in amazing grace and rescuing love and perfect mercy. I want them to believe that He is a refuge, a strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.
I need to believe. Because if I do, then I can tell them there is evil in this world and it is blacker and darker than any story we read or movie we watch, and it is not a fantasy. It is real, but it can be overcome.
But those of us who believe, who call ourselves Christians, who are steadfast in our faith of a God who is loving and just, we have to be present. We cannot hide from all that surrounds us, all that freezes our hearts in our chests and slips tears of grief and fear down our cheeks. We can’t hole up in our churches and wait for Sunday and pray with the people who come to us. We have to go to them.
We have to walk the streets of Boston and hit our knees beside the plastic chairs in the hospital waiting rooms. We have to help rebuild a school and hang our prayers on snowflakes in its halls. We have to buy our groceries and take our kids to the park. We have to eat at mall food courts and push strollers at street fairs.
We have to go to the movies and not be afraid of the dark.
We have to live and be and love and weep and pray. We have to tell our children there is evil, yes, but there is also light. For every bad guy, there’s a hero who overcomes.
It’s my job to raise those heroes.
Which means I can’t hide them from Sandy Hook or Boston or Aurora. Which means, somehow, I have to find a way to talk about the world we live in without letting fear be my guide.