Last night Caleb had a nightmare. Two robbers with guns came in through his window and stole him. He’s six. My heart shudders because–what a horrific dream.
I can’t pretend to think the dream wasn’t somehow related to the bits and pieces he heard about Sunday’s senseless massacre in Orlando, our Orlando. We tried to shelter him as much as we could, but Ella needed to know. At twelve, this tragedy was something we felt she needed to be aware of.
Today, Caleb’s conversations ranged from the very normal boy things like putting salt on slugs (he’s never actually done it) to why President Obama and other political candidates need policemen to protect them. I found myself, again, having to explain to my sweet boy that there are bad people in our world.
And last week after watching the attempted kidnapping of a girl in broad daylight at the Dollar General store here in Florida, I struggled to tell my 7th grade daughter why she would no longer be allowed to leave my side while shopping. Gone are the times I could leave her at the deli counter while I grabbed a few things in produce.
The fact is—the world is a scary place.
In the last two weeks we’ve seen a rapist only slapped on the wrist, an almost kidnapping, a music artist shot dead at a concert, and the largest mass murder in U.S. history.
If you’re human, you should be reeling from the evil traipsing across our country. If you’re a parent, you may be wondering, like me, how to protect your children physically and mentally.
The heartbreaking truth is as mothers in our first world nation, we are only now beginning to understand a fear mothers all over the world have lived for years, centuries even—the fear that we cannot protect our children. This is the world we are facing.
But I refuse to let fear win.
I’m left wondering, in the midst of my mourning—how do I talk real with my children? How do I tell them we live in an unsafe world without causing them to be afraid? How do I help them live life without being controlled by fear?
I tell them the Truth.
I tell them Jesus never promised a life without pain or suffering. But then I tell them Jesus also promised that perfect love casts out all fear. I can tell them that no matter what we face while on this earth, Jesus is with us wherever we go.
I can teach my children how to pray when they feel scared. I can let them sleep on the floor in our bedroom as many nights as they need to feel safe. I can hold them tight and tell them no matter what happens on this earth, our Hope is in heaven with our God.
I can remind them of the beautiful goodness we witness in our world.
I can show pictures of people lined up for hours to give blood here in Orlando. I can remind them of all of the men and women we know who serve as policemen, nurses, emergency responders, and doctors. I can show them a community that refuses to live in fear by continuing to visit the parts of Central Florida we dearly love.
I can teach them love is mightier than hate.
I can tell them evil lurks behind fear. Evil is darkness. And then I can turn on the light. I can show them light is more powerful than dark with the flick of a switch. We can watch a sunrise together and be reminded night never lasts.
Light is stronger than dark.
I can teach my innocent babes that Jesus is the Light of this world, and His light has already defeated the darkness. And I can remind them as many times as I have to that we uncover Hope in a world that wants us to be afraid through a Savior who wants us to love.
So, my sweet little boy afraid of the dark? Climb into my arms. Let me hold you close. Allow me to whisper the Peace of Christ softly in your ear until your breathing slows and your eyes droop with sleepy heaviness.
Because our answer to fear is only ever the perfect love of a Savior who is Light and who came to drive out the darkness.
This is the Truth I will tell.
Scriptures to pray with your children in the face of fear:
- 2 Timothy 1:7—For God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power and of love and of sound mind.
- Joshua 1:9—Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for theLord your God is with you wherever you go.
- 1 John 4:4—You, dear children are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
- Philippians 4:10—…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…
- 1 John 4:18a—There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.