Why My Child Should Know About War

One of my favorite times of day is sitting on my cold bottom on my front step watching the sunrise. After my friend and I go walking three times a week, I sit down, cross my ankles, and sit with God. It’s wonderful.

Today as I was sitting, I heard the door creak open behind me and my 5-year-old daughter plunked herself in my lap. This was new because usually my children aren’t up when I go walking. But because today was Remembrance Day, our walk could be taken at a later time, the glorious lateness of 7:30am.

After snuggling and greeting, my daughter piped up.

“Mom, did you know that there are kids who are dying in war right now?”

Pause

“You’re right, honey. Where did you hear about it?”

Now, I’m not upset that this is information my daughter has. Her school does a very good job of honoring and discussing why we observe Remembrance Day. But it did take me aback.

I think there is the hope in the heart of ever adult that children will never have to know of or experience war. But the reality in our world is that there are children who are being killed, who are being trained as soldiers, who are living in situations that are horrendous and seem hopeless from a continent away.

But I’m glad that my daughter knows this is happening.

I’m glad because this began a discussion with her about the people who work very hard to help others and keep them safe.

And it began a discussion about how Jesus calls us to do what we can to love other people, even when they seem so far away.

I wrapped my arms around my daughter and told her that even though we may not be there to wrap our arms around kids who are terrified in their reality of war, we can do what we can to love people right where we are.

I talked to her about loving others.

I talked to her about how we make sure that we love people who are different.

I talked to her about how if there is someone new who comes to your school, you look into their fear and you do what you can to make them feel welcome.

I talked to her about welcoming people who may be fleeing war, and have experienced so many things we can’t imagine. About how we can try to look at them and imagine what it must be like to be scared, to lose everything, and to start over where you may not know the language. And we do what we can to love them and make them feel like we’re glad they are there.

And when she talked to me about how even in Kindergarten, there are ‘teams’ of girls and they don’t all play with one another, I could encourage her that we don’t play teams. I tell her that sometimes girls aren’t so good at making sure that everyone feels like they belong. That her loving people and standing up for them means that we welcome everyone to our play space.

That if our friends tell someone who they aren’t welcome to play with us that she can stand up on her 5-year-old feet and say ‘everyone is welcome’.

“Mom, I was just thinking of that!”

I love my brave kindergarten Girl.

I love that her knowledge of the world is expanded so that the dark places we see can always have a crack of light in them.

I love that Jesus gave us the model of loving others, of praying for the persecutors as well as the persecuted.

I love that in the midst of hate there is love, and in the midst of the heaviness there is determined forward hopefulness.

What lessons to learn so young, and I’m so grateful for these lessons.

So I hugged her and she skipped off. And I sat, thinking of those who have come before. Those who have fought with weapons and those who have fought with love. Those who have fought to maintain peace, and those who have fought to bring peace.

And in our corner of the world, where war is a memory and not my reality, I will do what I can to bring love.

 

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Not Enough Emotional Wet Wipes in the World

It’s been a day.

A day of watching and receiving other people’s hurts.

Of exploring how we as human beings view one another and the fear and grace of end of life.

It’s been a day of too little reserves, too much salad and not enough hamburgers, not enough water and not enough iced tea.

It’s been a day.

It’s been a day where I wish my words were powered like a shop-vac with a reverse switch, where as soon as something flowed, it could be gathered up again in an instant.

It’s been a day of the best intentions and the most clumsiness.

It was a day where in the attempt to connect with a group, I may have inadvertently hurt the one. Where something I said may have resonated a discordant clang against the wounds of their experience and I wish, I wished the moment I said it that I could gather it up.

But instead I looked in the eyes and tried to smooth, yet not make a big deal, yet all the while worrying that a person I admire and try to emulate may thing that I think things I don’t think.

I hate that. I hate the thought that within my reserve-less jabbering I was like a dog who brought my dead carcass treat and laid it at someone’s feet.

Where I had wounded where I meant to connect.

“Watch your words and hold your tongue and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23 (MSG)

Yep, can’t argue with you there.

I’m normally pretty good at holding my tongue. I try to keep secrets and use my nice words and try to look on the positive. And I think I’m pretty successful.

But there are the days, like these, where there is over-tiredness, and a kid barfing, and too much salad, and my words aren’t what I hoped they would be.

So what do I do?

I vent, to God on the way home and to my husband when I get home. And they tell me that I’m going to be ok. And I pray. I pray about what to do, what amends are needed and how to go about it.

Because we all have those days. Days where we wish we were vacuums and wet wipes and could make it all better. But I go forward and I learn, and I remember that self-care and thoughts are important before the words come.