Today, while sitting in the Costco parking lot with a raging child, I received a text from my Mom:
"Elementary school in Conn. possibly 12 dead including children..."
I gasped as I read it and the kids instantly knew something was wrong. We prayed right away for the injured, for the families of the people killed, for God to draw near to those hurting. Then the questions began. "What happened? Why are they hurt? Why would someone hurt kids?!"
I was as honest as possible without scaring them. Part of the reason I can share this much is that my children do not go to school.
I told them that someone had walked into a school for children in K-5th grade and tried to hurt them. "Did they have knives and guns?" They had guns. "Did they kill the kids?!" Yes, I think some of them were killed. "Why would someone do that?!" I'm not sure. Fear? Anger? Hurt? The Bible says "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9. Our hearts are capable of great evil, this is the very reason Jesus had to die.
The conversation went on to something else, but of course my mind was filled with thoughts of parents waiting to hear if their child was OK. Parents staring at wrapped Christmas gifts for their son or daughter that wouldn't be opened on Christmas morning. Thoughts of the gunman...what was going on with him? Once he was a child, innocent and full of hope. What happened in his life to leave him so angry? Thoughts of his family, his parents. The guilt they will carry along with their sorrow. I couldn't bare anymore thoughts and turned the radio up loud.
When we got home I logged onto FB against my better judgement. And I was reminded in a post from Mark Driscoll: "evil and demonic are words to keep in our vocabulary." My kids understand evil, the opposite of God. But demonic is new to them. We talked about the man in Mark 5 that was demon possessed. Jesus came, saved the man, and cast the demon "Legion" into the pigs. I reminded them that Jesus is the hero, our Savior! He wants good for us.
My point in this post is not to tell you what to say to your kids. My point is to plead with you to speak to your kids! Sit down and tell them as much as you think they can hear. Talk through it. You do not have to know your Bible inside and out to talk to your kids about hard things. Take a paper and pen, write down their questions. Write down your own questions. Then find someone more mature in their faith and ask them about it.
The point is not that you have all the answers to your kids questions. The point is that you create an atmosphere in your home that your kids know they can come talk to you about the hard things. Please, please do not avoid talking about these things in an effort to save your child grief! The impression we give our kids with that, is that Mom and Dad are too uncomfortable talking about hard stuff. Then your child finds someone else to talk to, sometimes that's a youth pastor or mature adult; sometimes that is another lost peer.
The days are short, that we have an opportunity to speak truth into our children. Don't waste one minute of it!
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."