As a parent it is my responsibility to form the lens through which my children see the world. Thankfully my kids are four and and two, so the world’s events don’t affect them as much as they will in the future. So what am I telling my kids about Boston? Nothing. I am relieved that I don’t have to tell them anything about what happened at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday.
But I’ve been thinking a lot about planning and preparing and I’ve been processing that on this blog lately. Exercise training – gotta plan. Graduate degree – gotta plan. Parenting? Oh my! If you don’t have a plan for raising your children, the world will raise them for you. Let me be clear: my plan is to guide and encourage without micromanaging my kids’ childhood and upbringing. But I believe there are explicit instructions and conversations to be had when it comes to certain life situations and events. Monday’s terrorist attach is one of those events. If Sorin and Norah were a little older, here’s what I would say to them.
Run towards, not away
When tragedy happens, evaluate the situation as much as you can and then be a first responder. Run towards those who need help. You will be equipped to handle the stress, the difficulties, and uncertainties. Don’t run away. People need you, assume they have no one else. This requires some critical thinking, but the attitude should be of a first responder. Think to yourself, “What can I do to help?” There’s a visual image floating around the Boston finish line of an explosion and then there’s a reaction by the bystanders. Be a person who runs toward the emergency.
It’s not a good world, it’s an evil world
One prevailing thought after this tragedy has been that the world is essentially good, there’s just a few bad apples. Unfortunately this is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It also says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Our pastor, Chris Dolson, says we are crooked like a bent stick. This doesn’t mean we’re all capable of terrorist attacks, but we are a sinful people. At the same time God equips us for doing good works. We need to know that evil exists in the world and it is our job to bring light and hope to the world. It also means we are to help those in need if we are able. Often we are, in fact, able and even called to help.
There’s nothing you can do
Would I run the Boston Marathon next year? Absolutely. Would I have attended the Olympic Games after the bombing in Atlanta (1996)? Absolutely. We cannot live our lives in fear. We need to be smart, even strategic. But we cannot let these events affect our lives. Is there additional danger in the next Boston marathon? The next Olympic Games? The next sold out Packers game? The next never-sold-out-Bucks game? No. There’s no rhyme or reason to these kinds of attacks, so we cannot live in fear. Know the world we live in, be prepared, and trust in the Lord. What else can you really do? There’s nothing else you can do. But our hope and our strength? It comes from the Lord. If He is our light and our salvation, whom shall we fear?
Run in their shoes
I don’t do well with grief. Franky I struggle with it a lot. But I know that and I’m actively moving towards it, trying to be more sympathetic and connected to those in need. I don’t know anyone hurt at the Boston finish line. But I had a runner friend, and I can imagine the support his family would need if he had been hurt or killed. Being able to run in the shoes of people going through a tough time or tragedy is a life skill. It allows us to care for them if we are side-by-side. It forces us to run towards them if they need our help. Right now I can’t do anything for the people in Boston. But I can pray for them and their families and I can increase my compassion for them so that if I had an opportunity to help firsthand, I’d be more likely to step up and contribute.
I Love You
Is there anything more important to tell a child? At the end of the day, what is more powerful than love? I hug my kids a little tighter after tragedies. I make sure they know they are loved and it flows from the love I’ve experienced from God. God loves me, I love you, now go out and show the world love and hope.