Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to Give Kids {and our own hearts} Answers When There are None

Franklin Regional School District, the place where both of my Treasures attend classes and also where I work, made national news yesterday - for all the wrong and evil reasons.

We parents reel and look each other in the eyes as we pick up our children from lockdown, and it hurts and hurts and hurts. We're all asking the same question and coming up empty - "How could this happen here?" This empty, answer-less void stabs our souls over and over with only more questions unanswerable. 

"How will I explain this to my ten-year-old?"

"How do I send them back into the place of danger that never should have been called that?"

"Why would any child or adolescent in the supposed-happy years of life turn against his classmates?"

"How does this keep happening in our schools?"

"What do we do with this fear? This terror? How do we declare war on children?"

"When will this ever end?"

My Guy and I watch the news when we can, when the Treasures are normal-resilient playing outside on a sunny spring day, and going to bed, thankfully sleepy. We watch the footage of the boy in cuffs and we both say it in shock at the same time - "Look at him - he's just a baby!"

And it's there again - the void of unknown - the question we can't stop asking. How could this happen?

When four are critical, twenty-two are stabbed, two more hurt besides - and the weapons are steak knives in the hands of a child I'm sorry, but there will be no answering of that question today, and maybe not ever. Try as they might, experts and psychologists and crisis analysts won't come up with anything palatable, much less swallow-able.

And my friends and relatives keep asking me - how are you explaining this to them? 

I suppose the answer is - I'm not.

And while I may not have answers to those questions, that doesn't mean I'm without any answers. I still have Truth, and as we sit down at the dinner table after a day of reeling and tears, I bring it with me - the Word. Because when you don't know what to say, you say what He knows. And you give your Treasures The Treasure He graciously pours. 

We tell them what we know. Evil, wrong, angry choices - it's all here on this fallen globe. We'll not escape it as long as these mortal lungs draw breath. Sometimes the best answers come from our own hearts, so instead of telling them, I ask them. Why do you think people hurt others like this? It's my boy who pipes up. "Anger makes people do stupid things." And who can argue? We look up some verses about anger and sin and evil. He's right. Anger is not sin, but it gives Evil a place for his foot in our hearts. (Eph. 4:27)

More of what we know - people need love. And we have been given it. I ask again, hoping they will find the answer in the searching together. How would God want us to respond here? They both answer this time. "Care for them. Pray for them. Tell them about Jesus." One of my Treasures chimes in with this and I'm breathless. Struck. 

"We need to pray for that guy. It will be hard for people to forgive him."

Of course. It's the answer to everything unanswerable. We pray.

Because when we look into the void and the dark pain, we can see past the cavern to the One who holds the Light. And He has the answers we seek, though we might not get them all right now. 

Answers like Forgiveness. Hope. Love. Restoration. 

The developmentalist in me wants to answer the question in my title for you, Dear Reader. I want to tell you if your child is between the ages of x and y, you say z; if she is older than a or b, you say c. And m plus n will equal all better. 

But I can't. Grief has no formula and some questions can only be answered by more questions.

So, I'll leave you with this.: 

Love your Treasures.
Squeeze them tight every day,
Not just the tragic ones.
Give them Truth,
Help them open their hands to It.
Don't pretend you know,
When you don't.
Be there, present.
Look into eyes and listen,
Listen to the heart between the words.
And when the unanswerable hurts,
Bring them to the Healer.

Lord, bring Your answers and Your healing here. Touch lives with hope like only You have. Show us how to love, how to forgive, how to step forward with courage. Pour out Your sovereign comfort as You show us who You are. Please heal these cuts to flesh and cuts to souls. Draw our hearts closer to Yours. Amen

"Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.

He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, 
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
    and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
    or fret about their wicked schemes." - Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT)

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