What Do I Tell My Kids?

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks now. It’s been simmering in my heart, with the words stringing themselves together, as they’ve always done for me, ever since I was little. But mostly I’ve been talking myself out of writing it.

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I handle “politics” the way too many of us probably do. I must admit that I’m ashamed of how often I check out of all of it. Sometimes, I can pass it off as “good for my soul”–you know, the news is all just terrible, and we should turn it off and spend more time with our families. Logging into Facebook has become a harrowing act, so I’ll just scroll past everything that doesn’t strike me as peachy. And I’ll zip up the walls of my bubble super-duper tight until all I worry about is my laundry and my dinner and my husband and my kids…

 

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My kids. What do I say to my kids?

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The other day, as we were driving to school, we pulled off to the side of the road for an ambulance to pass. “Let’s pray for them,” Gabby suggested, and boy did I swell with pride. She knows to do that because I’ve modeled it for her. We hear and see a lot of ambulances because we live close to a hospital, so there have been several times that I’ve suggested just that thing when we let one pass. We pray that God would heal whoever is inside quickly, that He would cover him or her and the family involved with peace, that the person inside would get to return home soon. This day, Gabby said the prayer, and then she asked why we should. She was doing what I’d showed her without even understanding the reason behind it (parenting is just the worstย because they tend to watch what you do more than listen to what you say. It’s a terrible/terrific path for growing yourself as well as your children, and it’s why I eat so many stinking cookies.)

Anyway, I answered her with carefully considered words that were in direct contrast to my actions: “Well, we want to always have our eyes open to see when other people need us to pray for them or to love them in some other way. Remember, our number one job on Earth is to make others feel loved so that they might know Jesus.”

This is the kind of thing I tell my kids (Keep in mind that though a brilliant scholar most assuredly, Emerson is 8 months old and not quite taking it all in.)

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But in the same hour, I find myself scrolling past all of it and instead of any of it hitting me, it just bounces off my bubble. These great, big decisions that our country has to make become conversation topics for Caleb and me as we make dinner, and that’s it. I forget that my number one job on Earth is to love people–not just my people–and I go to bed.

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Even if I wanted to make this a political post, I couldn’t. I haven’t the understanding, the wisdom, nor the heart to craft something worthy in this particular political climate (or, if we’re being honest, any political climate. But boy do I know my parentheses, and I’m happy to add to the chatter about them in the world.)

But lately, I’ve felt so heavy. Over and over, as I’m making dinner or running baths or folding laundry, I think, “What can I do?” and “Thank God my children can’t read yet.” How would I explain to them if they could? What would I tell them about the divisiveness and the hate and the fear that is rising up around us? What would I say?

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The other day in the car, we prayed for whoever was in the ambulance, and then I prayed for my own, well, lack of prayer. “This much you can do,” the Holy Spirit reminded me. “This much you must do.”

For the families who are fleeing war and destruction, for the mamas who nuzzle their babies’ heads just as I did my own last night, I can pray. And for those who are living in fear because of their nationalities or skin colors or beliefs any which way they fall, I can pray. And for the babies who have been aborted and for the mothers who have had to make those choices and for the lawmakers who can push change for the babies in the future, I can pray. And for my friends who believe differently than me and for my own heart that so enjoys its comfy bubble and for my children, who will one day learn to read (probably), I can pray.

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What do I tell my children, friends? What do I tell them? I tell them that the world needs more than kindness and compassion–it needs a Savior. I tell them that even more, a Savior it has, and that they should proclaim the good news not with ALL CAPS or damning memes or political party affiliations, but in the way they love the people they encounter. I tell Gabby that before she speaks, she must ask herself, “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it respectful?” and I tell you and me that, too. I tell them to stop and pray, to center their hearts back on what is good and true and holy, and to lift the least of these up to Him.

I tell them that they have to go to bed because God created early bedtimes for moms and dads so GO TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW. I tell Gabby that the smoke detector in her room is a camera and I can see when she gets out of bed. Father, forgive me, but I had to tell her something.

When they’re older, I will tell them that the world will prosecute them, but that they must do all they can to further the Gospel with the gifts they have. I will tell them that I don’t have all or even many of the answers, but that I do know that it’s dangerous to lock your doors because you can and forget that the mothers caught in between countries are praying prayers of safety over their babies, just like I do for them each night.

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Here’s what I tell my children: “We want to always have our eyes open to see when people need us to pray for them or to love them in some other way. Remember, our number one job on Earth is to make other people feel loved so that they might know Jesus.” It’s really the same thing I pray for myself, the prayer I’m sometimes afraid to have answered: Eyes that see. Ears that hear. A heart that will stop at nothing. And please, Lord, keep these children safe.

And Father? Tell them to go to sleep.

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