We dropped our almost 8-year-old off this afternoon for his first week-long summer camp. Given our history with this particular outdoor ministry, this was a pretty momentous occasion for our family. (See Ministry with a little elbow grease.) I was eager to write about this big day. But given the senseless violence which has saturated the news this week, I feel I must assess our day from a different angle.
I have a good life. It is easy to happily hide inside my “suburbanite with white-collar job” box and ignore the pain and evil in the world. As the terrible events continued to occur last week, I was reluctant to read or watch the news. This is just too much! I can’t comprehend the hatred and fear in our country, and I have no clue how to fix it. Perhaps I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen…
But I did read the news – story after story as each event unfolded. I reacted with rage, sorrow, fear. When did our country get this way? When did our actions and reactions become so fueled by fear and division? Was it always there and I was too naive and privileged to see it?
One night I read the news as my kids got ready for bed. The article ended, and I looked up to watch my daughter playing peacefully in the tub. I felt fear for her future, and shame that this is the community I will send her into. I felt painfully united with the countless moms and dads around this country staring at their own kids, fearful for what the future holds.
But for too many of these moms and dads – those that live with a different socio-economic reality, those with skin a different shade from mine – this fear is more real and imminent than my own. I can’t even begin to imagine their experience. Their reality is not acceptable!
The big question then – how do we fix it? How do I step outside of my happy little box and be a part of the solution? I don’t have the answer for this question. But – I can acknowledge my naive state, be open to engage in discussion, show love and forgiveness in my own life, seek the face of God in everyone, teach my children to show love, be compassionate, and stand up for all people – no exceptions, and above all, let my life be led by love and not fear!!
There is pain and violence around us, yes. But there is hope! We did leave our son at church camp today. I’ve experienced the range of emotions felt by all first-time camper parents: excitement, nervous anxiety, confusion at how I suddenly became old enough to have a kid at summer camp. But the biggest and perhaps most unusual feeling is envy. My son gets to live in a place this week where he doesn’t have to know the evil lurking in the world. My son gets to go to camp and experience community in its truest form, away from fear, hatred and division. My son gets to experience closeness to God without those hovering “Why God?!” questions we ask now.
Through that innocence we have opportunity to change the world. The words our children hear and the action they see from us will shape how they cope with problems in our world; it will guide how they respond to fear, and help them to embrace and celebrate all people, each uniquely loved by God.
God, who hears the prayers cried out from all people – bring us peace and unity. Show us how to love! Dissolve our fear. Show us your hope. Amen!
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 4:31 – 5:2