Friday, April 19, 2013

out of the mouth of my babe

Last night at bedtime, Israel was complaining of is foot hurting. It was a minor issue, so I pulled out that line my dad used on me as a kid: "Do you want me to cut it off?" (As I child, I thought this was stupid, because of course it would hurt more to cut off your foot than it would to deal with the minor boo-boo. Kids can't realize this is the point of the question. So I add an explanation.) "Your foot can't hurt you if I throw it over there somewhere."

This led immediately into a string of questions from my son that ended up with a discussion of prosthetic limbs and how it is possible to live and not die from losing a limb and how it is possible to walk, even if you're missing a leg. And then, of course, it led to giving an account of what has happened in Boston. It was time for prayer, anyway, and the subject seemed the logical bridge from hurting foot to prayer. Pat and I looked at each other and I dove in:

"So tonight we can pray for people who have been hurt and are missing their legs. Lots of people in a city far away called Boston got their legs cut off by a bomb."

The kids looked at me, waiting for further explanation for a second, so I continued to answer the silent "why" question by saying, "A couple of men left a bomb around a lot of people and it exploded and lots and lots of people were hurt really badly. It was a very bad choice for them to make...a very bad choice that really hurt a lot of people."

I always hesitate before letting my kids know about such horrible events. Israel still prays for Syria lots of evenings after Pat informed him of that one world event something like a year ago. I don't want him to know about every bad thing that happens, because he does not forget them. I don't want my kids to be afraid of bad things happening. But since ignorance doesn't tend to make unafraid people, I try to tell them SOME bad things that I think they will hear about as we listen to the news. (As we have one starting kindergarten next year, we skipped Sandy Hook for the most part.) So I drop these things on them in a context of something to do about it. "You can pray about this because...." and then they aren't powerless; I'm telling them so they can do something about it. Even if it's for people far away. But I wait to see how this will affect them. Israel didn't ask any further questions, but sat thinking about it for awhile. Eden, who, has a completely unsuppressible spirit, piped up immediately about the people who had made the really bad choice that hurt a lot of people: "But Jesus still loves them."

And so we prayed for them, too.

I'm not the most filled-in on the details and on how different media outlets have portrayed the young men presumably responsible for creating the need for all the heroism we've read about. I have read people being upset that they were initially described in terms of skin color. As I tuned in today, there was mostly talk about ethnicity, religion, and place of birth. Would we make such a big deal of these things if the person was born and raised here and had light skin? I can't say for sure.

But I do notice, on many levels in society, in times of tragedy and times of relative peace, we like to distance ourselves from people who make bad choices. We like to point out how people we would label "bad guys" are different from us. It's easier to find some way to cut them off from "us." We say to each other: "Here. You want me to cut it off for you so it won't hurt you?" I can't say for sure that's what is happening here. What I can say is that we need to guard against that. As humiliating as it is, Christians have to admit that we don't have anything up on

And so we pray for EVERYONE'S hearts and lives who have been changed (or not) by this horrible choice/event, recognizing that the best thing that can happen is for God to be at work in the lives of all involved.

Instead of focusing on why "that person" is different from us, Eden honed in on the very powerful and humbling thing that we have in common. The most basic and wide-reaching truth about me is the same for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: "Even when we make bad choices, Jesus still loves us." And if I can't affirm this about him, I cannot truly believe it for myself. I don't know what Jesus's love will mean for Dzhokhar in his life or the next, but I know he wasn't created less in the image of God than I was. And Jesus didn't only die and rise again for people who meet some basic moral standard. I am no more worthy of forgiveness than he is. (Can one be "worthy" of forgiveness?) As an adult, I have a whole list of theological questions about this, but none of them advance my knowledge any further than what my daughter already knows: "Jesus still loves us, (all of us,) even if we do something wrong."

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