What Do You Tell Them?
This image was taken on September 11, 2001. I will never forget the look in my one year old sons eyes as we sat stunned in front of the television. The world changed that day. We all changed that day. Obviously there is really no way to explain these events to a one year old. The reality is he probably wanted to know why we hadn’t put his favorite Barney video on. To be honest, I think that is what we eventually did. Not just for him. We put it on for all of us.
Fast forward to this evening. My one year old is now 12. He sees twitter. He reads facebook. He watches the news and hears the reports on the radio. He’s old enough now to ask questions that need answers I can’t even provide myself. He wants to know who would do this. He wonders why they reported that cell phone coverage was being cut off. He asks if I heard this or saw that. A minute ago he walked in and said “one of the people that died was 8 years old.”
And that pit in my stomach went a little deeper.
So what do you tell them? What do we say to our little ones when we have no answers to the unspeakable? I’ve been fortunate enough to run a few races. They’ve been at those finish lines. They know how crowded they are. They know there are families with moms, dads, grandparents and kids celebrating with signs. Even he said “there’s people with strollers and stuff.” Who could do this? Why would they do this? How can this happen?
The answer is I don’t know.
What I do know is that throughout scripture there are stories that are, in all honesty, horrific. Although we velvet board them with cartoons to soften the story for Sunday School, the details are still tragic. I know I can’t wrap my head around flooding the entire earth, but when you think about it, that is absolutely terrible. I also know that no matter how the story is presented, there exists an evil in this world. It causes unthinkable events to take place. It has no regard for its victims. John 10:10 puts it this way…
10a The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
But this isn’t what you tell them. At least it’s not what I’m telling mine. After all, they are children. Children have imaginations. Imaginations fueled by fear can be very dangerous. So tonight I told them that sometimes these things happen and we can’t explain it. Sometimes there are people that do evil things and we won’t know why. However, John 10:10 doesn’t end with the verse above. To quote Paul Harvey….here’s the rest of the story…
10b I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
When I read that I can’t help but think that is exactly what those runners were doing. As they approached that finish line, they were living to the full. Those that were cheering were living to the full, even if it was through the one they were cheering. There was celebration and joy even in the midst of the complete exhaustion of 26.2. miles.
And we should be doing the same. Have life and have it to the full.
Tomorrow we will wake up and be flooded with images, stories, video and reports of the tragedy that took place today. I think the best thing we can do is tell our little ones, and ourselves, to live. Live to the full. We don’t know what will happen. We don’t know where evil will happen. We may actually honor those in Boston by living to the full. Tonight, hold them a little closer.
Calm their fears
and encourage them to have life
and have it to the full.