“Mommy, they stole from me!! Why? Why?” My daughter gulps in hiccupy sobs and points to the empty spot on the park bench. Sure enough, her purse is gone. The pink purse – the hand-me-down bag bejeweled with sequins – it’s gone. Reese is devastated.
She spins around, desperately searching the park for a fleeting glimpse of pink. There is none. Only browns and greens and a kaleidoscope of chipped paint. No pink.
My little girl collapses into my arms. “Why, mommy, why?” My heart mourns with hers. Granted, the purse is inconsequential in the grand scheme of life, but more than the purse is gone. Sin has revealed its ugliness in the middle of a child’s playground and stolen a bit of her naivety. I have no rewind button. No way to erase the internal graffiti now infringing on her innocence.
I chide myself: Why did you let her bring the purse? How could you let someone steal from your daughter? I hold my girl. She hurts, and I’m sad. I want to make her laugh and smile again. To make her forget about thieves and sin and loss. The thing is – I know how. I know how to stop the tears. I know how to distract a five-year-old. A trip to the local ice cream shop would do the trick. Or I could promise a new purse, one with even more sequins than the last. My mouth opens. The promises start.
But then I stop. I stop because what I want to do won’t last. My promises are shallow, temporary shelter from pain. I want to gloss over the effects of the sinful world, drown them under triviality to protect her from hurt. But I know, as do you, that our children are guaranteed to face pain, pain much deeper than a stolen purse. As much as we would like to ignore this fact, children are not immune to the hurt that festers on an earth groaning under sin. The tide of life will bring them a mixture of tsunamis and ice cream stands, pink sunsets and battered beaches. One lifetime has lots of grays and blacks swirled in with the pinks and purples.
I try to avoid pain myself, and I abhor the thought that my children must experience it. My first impulse is to raise my shields, however flimsy they may be, around my children. I must do something. I’m their mom after all. The truth is, though, that I can’t protect them from pain. The most vigilant of moms will never discover impenetrable bubble wrap or a fool-proof safety plan to thwart evil. So what is my role? Is there more to protecting my kids than providing a safe environment and teaching stranger danger and monitoring their friends? Yes, in addition to providing a safe environment, my role is to prepare my children for pain. Sounds harsh, I know. “I must shelter my children” sounds much better, but we’ve already established that there is no shelter strong enough to repel pain. So I will trust God to do the sheltering in the midst of pain, and with his help, I will work at preparing my children for it.
This leads to the next question, “How do I prepare my children to face pain?” Answer: teach my children to run to God’s truth. Better yet, immerse them in God’s Word now before pain ever washes ashore. God is the only foundation strong enough to hold them. Distracting my children from hurt is easier, but distraction doesn’t give them the tools to deal with pain in the future – pain that is deeper. And darker. Ice cream is a great idea (I’m a huge fan!), but it eventually melts. New purses are fun, but sequins fall off sooner or later. Cheap trinkets, dessert or money will not suffice for solace when my daughter’s heart is bleeding. They will melt and crumble away, and her heart will still bleed, but the Word of the Lord will endure forever.
So that summer afternoon we don’t go to the ice cream shop or the dollar store. Instead we talk, and she cries, and we talk some more. We talk about sin and why it’s here. We talk about how Reese is a sinner and how mommy is a sinner and how the thief is a sinner. We talk about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, about his victory over sin – for Reese, for mommy, for the thief. We pray. We pray for Reese to forgive the thief. We pray for the thief to find rescue in grace. We marvel at God’s love.
The praying and talking and forgiving – it’s exhausting and time-consuming. Ice cream would’ve been easier. But by God’s grace, we’re redeeming the lost innocence. Reese knows more about sin’s ugliness than I wish she did, but she also knows more about the well of grace. The blood of Christ is covering sin’s graffiti. With God’s help, I will prepare her; in his love, God will shelter her.
Today’s mentor mom post is from Amber Beery, mother of two princes and a prince. She blogs regularly about what God is teaching her and about her precious family at Here and The Hope and The Glory. If you love Amber’s wisdom and way with words, check out her other posts: For the Mom (and her friends) with a Child who Fails to Thrive, In Case You Feel Like the Wrong Mama for Your Kids, Girls and Boys, and What a Youth Group Leader Wants Parents to Know