I’m supposed to be writing about Brussels sprouts. Somehow, I can’t force myself to think about Brussels sprouts right now (although these particular sprouts were unusually delicious). Another school shooting took place last week. I’m sure you heard.
I wasn’t going to write about it, because it feels like capitalizing on tragedy. But somehow, I find myself here in the dark writing, a small child asleep on my lap.
There are no words for situations like this, for the victims, for those left behind, for the shooter’s surviving parent. There is only pain.
With pain comes a backlash.
We’re hearing people scream for gun control and other people saying this would have played out differently if every law-abiding citizen had a gun. Celebrities are stepping forward with their wisdom, mystically garnered from years of pretending to be somebody they’re not. Soon, it will be overshadowed in the media by another tragedy, but the pain will remain.
Closer to home, we’re hearing people say to hug your children a little closer tonight, let your kids be kids, keep them happy because this could be your last moment together.
Then we’re hearing people going on with life as usual, sounding off about the dangers of French fries and non-organic apples, arguing over politics, global warming, educational methods, fill in the blank.
And finally, we’re hearing people trying to make sense of the senseless.
Pause. Big sigh.
1–Our world is in pain. A school shooting is big, and it’s tragic. When the hallowed halls of a safe place are attacked, everything we think we knew (but never really did) about life in America is irreparably shaken.
The same reality strikes families every day everywhere on a quieter, but just as painful scale. Children are taken away from parents, ripped out of “safe” places every day through disease, accidents, family break-ups, and sometimes evil people.
Everywhere, every day, there is pain.
The way we all feel about our children right now–the way we linger a bit longer at their bedsides, touch their hair, put down the computer or magazine and make eye contact–we should feel that way, act that way every single moment of every single day.
The way we pray for others, love our husbands a little more, pick up the phone to call our mamas, and smile at total strangers, that should be a daily practice.
The pain will never go away, not ever. Shouldn’t our love be just as enduring, just as strong? Even stronger? Shouldn’t we be this way all the time?
We won’t, because we’re human, and because we need to eat and sleep and earn a living.
But we should.
2–Love like they’ll be gone tomorrow, and train like they’re going to live forever.
What does that mean?
Your child may be taken from you tomorrow. Heck, today even.
Cherish. Every. Moment.
Even when your boy throws up on your laptop, cherish it–not the throwing up, and especially not the smell, but cherish the fact that you have your boy there so he can throw up on your laptop…and hopefully he can do other, more remarkable things later.
The Bible calls it being grateful in all circumstances.
But don’t cherish to the exclusion of your duties.
Your job is to cherish your child as if each moment is your last, but the other part of your job description is to train your child as if he will live forever.
Please, please, please do not use tragedies and what-ifs and guilt (or your child’s personality, but that’s another topic) as an excuse not to train your children. If for no other reason than to make your daughter- or son-in-law’s life a little (or a lot) more pleasant, train your kids!
If I knew my children would be taken from me tomorrow, of course I wouldn’t make them do their chores or eat their veggies today. We would not work on reading lessons or first-time obedience or sharing. Chances are, however, that my children will someday need to be disciplined enough to clean up after themselves, obey those in authority, and be accountable for their own actions. That won’t happen without work…my work.
Don’t slack on the cherishing, and don’t slack on the training. I know there are only 24 hours in a day, but lucky for you, you can cherish and train at the same time.
3–-Assess your priorities. What are you passionate about right now? What is driving your days?
I’ll go first–my family, my God…and not in that order. But it wasn’t always that way.
If your passion suddenly feels unimportant in the wake of what happened, maybe that’s because, comparatively, it is.
Maybe your passion needs to be demoted to a hobby or a pastime, or maybe even kicked out for a time, so there’s room for your family and your God to take places one and two in your life (not in that order).
Spend 15 minutes on any social media platform today–Facebook, Twitter, anything. There is a huge outpouring of unified love and support and very real pain in America right now. And then there are the other posts:
“I can’t believe my mama gave my baby a graham cracker! I told her we don’t eat that junk and she did it anyway.” Well, I’m sorry, and she should listen, but you are so blessed to have a mama and a baby, and I bet you didn’t listen to your mama a whole lot more than she didn’t listen to you…just a guess.
“Anybody who feeds their children XYZ is just plain ignorant.” Maybe. Maybe. But I’m pretty sure the mamas that have no children to feed this morning aren’t comforted one iota by the fact that when they had children to feed a few days ago, they took the time and effort to feed them ABC instead of XYZ.
Has your passion or cause–whether real foods, green living, getting out of debt, or even a mission of helping others–skewed your vision just a little? Come on, just a little? Think about it, and hear yourself through others’ ears. Feed your kids right, be a green queen if that’s your calling, clip those coupons sister, but keep it in perspective, and never, ever, ever, ever let it take precedence over a living, breathing person…even us ignorant ones.
4–Give them something real.
The empty words trying to make sense of this tragedy are just that–empty. Nauseatingly empty.
Give them Christ.
We teach our children what we understand from the Bible, and that’s this:
God commands all people to be perfect, not just good enough. Unfortunately, none of us is perfect…no, not even you. So God gave us the Christmas baby, His Son Jesus, who is both God and human. (Our brains can’t grasp this completely; we are, after all, only human.) Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn’t, and then died as punishment for our failings, not His own. Jesus came back to life (because He’s God, remember) and now lives in heaven and in my heart…and maybe yours, too. I hope so.
Believing that, however imperfectly we believe and however imperfectly we understand, is faith. Knowing Christ earned you a free pass to heaven, despite the doubts that sneak in, is trust. Living every day for Him instead of ourselves, however much we mess that up, is thankfulness.
If you believe that Christ is the path to heaven, share that with your children. Don’t wait for them to figure it out on their own.
It isn’t brainwashing for a doctor to give medicine to a dying child to save his life. It isn’t forcing our beliefs on a child to teach him how to read or spell or tell him about the history of America. If you believe in Christ, truly believe that He is the only way to heaven, why would you withhold that truth, that saving medicine, that “big picture” history lesson, that comfort and hope from your child? Why would you ever let it take a back seat to anything else?
You can share your faith while you’re training and cherishing–it all fits together beautifully.
If you don’t really know what I’m talking about, this path to heaven, please, please ask me.
I’ve said enough.
I think maybe I can focus on Brussels sprouts now before my blessings wake up. You, my friend, go love on your children–cherish, train, prioritize, and share Christ. That’s the simple life in a nutshell.