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Our country and our family has had a barrage of tragedy and loss lately. Our family, for lack of a better phrase, is “used to it”…in a way at least. From car accidents, still births, deaths, and sicknesses our family has faced it’s fair share. However, most of these events in my personal life happened pre-kids. I could react (sometimes not well) to trials without tiny people watching me. World news hit my heart and I handled it from a non-momma view point. Now I have tiny sponges following me around, learning emotions, and discovering that the world is broken.
Last Monday, after learning that a family friend had lost her life in the Las Vegas shootings, and that Josh’s cousin had been there and narrowly escaped with minimal physical injury (psychologically, the things she witnessed…can’t even imagine) I was tested in my ability to hold it together. I started to cry as I stood in my kitchen holding Flash while Squeaks and Little Dude ate lunch. Their little faces watched me and Squeaks immediately wanted an explanation. “Why are you crying momma?” I searched by brain trying to decide what to tell her and I landed on the truth. “My friend died, sugar.” She looked very sad and I couldn’t tell if I had just overwhelmed her or not. I quickly put on a smile and said “But it’s ok! I will see her again in heaven.” She looked mildly reassured and said “I’m sorry your friend died.” Sweet girl. Of course I left out the horrible truth that her life had been taken in a very violent way, that her husband had been present to witness it, and that she left behind three children of her own.
Today I’m not smiling as much as usual I suppose and Squeaks is still asking “are you sad momma?” Last night Josh’s aunt lost her home to the fires in Northern California. She lost everything and only had time to gather her pets. I’m feeling helpless and I think the sadness shows on my face while I process. The news that a cousin, who is a fire fighter, is on his way to Puerto Rico to help clean up after hurricane Maria, weighs heavy on my mind. He’s leaving behind (willingly and heroically) his very pregnant wife who has seen him only a handful of times since fire season broke out this year. For awhile it felt like the top half of our country was burning while the bottom half flooded. Friends and family in Florida and Texas had to evacuate and wait to see if their homes weathered the storms. Sad. I just feel sad. Lately it feels like there’s a new upheaval every week, whether natural disasters or the unnatural and senseless acts of a coward in a Vegas hotel room.
Now, I know God has a plan.
Past personal experience has taught me to expect redemption. Expect healing. I have hope and I know that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” It’s just the initial blow that knocks the wind out of me for a moment. I want my children to understand that this world is not their home. We are meant for more and this world is broken because of sin. I want them to understand that following Christ while full of immeasurable blessings, also includes trials meant to grow us. But right now they are so little and so sweetly innocent; I want them to stay that way as long as possible.
So here is my question to you. At what age did your child become aware of the heartache in this world and how did you comfort them through it? What do you tell them? Are there tools you use to impart truth and reassurance (apart from the Bible and prayer), songs or books? I’d like to know.