The other night my nine year old son came into my room, plunked down in my office chair and let out a big sigh.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, glancing up from my laptop.
“It seems like the world is a mess,” he said.
I closed my laptop and studied him. “What do you mean, ‘the world is a mess’?”
His eyes grew teary. “Everyone’s killing each other and people are killing themselves.”
He crawled into my lap and I wrapped my whole body around him. My heart ached. I wanted to be able to tell him that the world is beautiful and that people aren’t doing bad things and that we are safe…but I couldn’t. Somehow the ugliness from out there had seeped into our four walls and penetrated his little heart.
With tears streaming down my face, we had a conversation for which no parent can adequately prepare. We talked about violence, school shootings, drunk driving and suicide. These are heavy topics for an adult and inconceivable for a nine year old to bear. And, yet, it is the reality of the world in which we live.
I learned from our talk that he was afraid to go to school…afraid a shooter would come in and kill everyone in his classroom. In the same week he had seen headlines on the internet about a baseball star getting a DUI and a country singer committing suicide. That’s a lot of bad news and he wasn’t sure how to process it. “The world is a mess,” was how it all boiled down…a statement that is sadly not far from the truth.
We have parental guards on our computers and iPads, but information seeps in through their iPhones and their friends. It’s impossible to protect your children from the great wide virtual world of information. As parents, we try to focus on the good so that our children will see that there is beauty in the world; but, oh, how the headlines make this a challenge.
How do we teach our children that violence is not the answer when our own police officers are on video beating a civilian to a pulp? How do we teach them to feel secure when children are murdered in their own schools? How do we teach them to forgive when ex-policeman are gunning down previous co-workers and their families? How do we tell them to be carefree and enjoy their childhood when children are kidnapped, molested and murdered within a few miles from their home? How do we teach them to look up to role models when those role models drink and drive and use drugs? How do we teach them that suicide is not an answer when celebrities are overdosing and shooting themselves?
“The world is a mess.”
The other night I realized I can’t refute that statement. The world IS a mess. All I could do and all I did was tell him the one truth that I knew… God is bigger than any mess. With Him in our hearts we never have to face anything alone; and His love conquers all.
I wrapped my arms tighter around my son and whispered, “I love you with all of my heart and you will never have to face anything in this life alone.”
“How do we clean up the mess?” He asked.
I kissed the top of his head. “I don’t know, baby. I think we start by asking God for help.”
And together, we prayed. “God, please clean up the mess so the children in this world don’t have to be so afraid.”
I put him to bed and wept. ~