If you were at this moment to lay flat on your back in our yard and look up at the bright, blue sky, speckled with white fluffy clouds, you would never know that a mere month ago a devastating hurricane wrecked our area. If you were like me, and your home is still fully intact, you’ve moved on with life to some degree. After all, we who were mildly affected are not waiting for FEMA or an insurance company to put the pieces of our life back together.
Yet, when I pause in my routine, I can’t help but remember that friends and neighbors just a few streets over are grappling to find a new normal. Their old life was washed away, and for some, the new life has put them in a more desperate situation.
Right after the hurricane, I found myself trying to explain it all to my daughters. My 4-year-old had no ability to understand. My 7-year-old seemed to be trying to understand but couldn’t quite get there fully. My 9-year-old understood but showed no signs of caring-which I’ve learned is usually not the full picture of what’s happening beneath the surface for her. I knew a later conversation was coming once she had processed some emotions (so like her mom). My 10-year-old clutched her favorite stuffed horse close and talked. She wept as she talked about how afraid she felt and how sad she was for those kids who had lost their favorite stuffed animal in the flood waters.
We helped those we could however we could, but even my kids were aware that our help wasn’t enough to restore all that was lost. Nothing could undo what had been done, and they all had the same question...
"Why did this happen?"
How do we help our kids answer that question?
The problem is not that we don’t know the truth, it’s that we don’t always know how to speak the truth in a way that won’t terrify them. Nevertheless, we must tell them the truth. Even when they are little. Obviously, we don’t tell them the details all at once, but little by little, as they mature, we pull back the curtain and allow them to see reality.
In these moments of tragedy, I tell mine the truth-that the world is broken and we are all broken in it. The earth itself is broken, therefore natural disasters happen and will continue to happen. Mommy and Daddy are broken just like that man on the news who shot at people is broken. Our parents are broken as were their parents before them, as is everyone else all the way back to Adam and Eve. There in the garden the world broke. Like a careless child breaks a new toy on Christmas morning, the delight of Creation was ruined and we all weep at its’ loss. What should have brought us joy, now brings us sorrow. What else can we do but weep?
This is the part of the truth that is hard to tell. I am tempted to water it down and make it less awful. But if I do that then I do a disservice to the full truth…
The full truth is that “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved…” (Eph. 2:4-5).
The bad news is really bad. Devastating. But it serves to make the good news that much more good. That is what the word “gospel” means. Good news. And I am encountering this good news daily. This good news has changed me completely. So I must share the good news with my daughters. This is my primary work as a mom.
And it is yours too, brave Mama.
These are the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
So I cannot tell them a different version of the truth. I cannot just tell them, “Sweetie, there are bad people in the world so stay away from them and try not to be like them.” To stop there would not be the full truth and does not show them the truth about who they are as sinners. The full truth says we are all bad people who have “fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and we must all trust the only good man who has ever lived to save us.
Jesus. They must trust Jesus or none of this will ever make any sense and they will spend their whole life in despair trying to answer “why”, or worse, thinking that they are one of the good people who don’t need a savior.
Is it easier to hide and not talk about the truth? Yes. Check the date of my last blog post if you don’t believe me. It takes time, energy, humility, deep thought and continual conversation to know, understand and apply the gospel to our lives. How much nicer it is to stare at the blue skies and pretend that we are not all broken. Hiding was what Adam and Eve did after they realized their sin had broken everything. It’s what we are all tempted to do.
But the truth is told by those who have the courage to live by it. I want to be a truth teller. I want to live with courage.
My prayer for you and me today is that we will always choose to speak the truth with courage, love and grace. I pray we resist the temptation to hide behind softer lies and make-believe realities. I pray that we will daily tell our children the full gospel of Jesus Christ, and then rejoice together when we reap the fruit of our labor.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Gal. 6:9
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2