I was driving today and Katie asked, “Mommy, why are all the flags halfway down the poles?” (President Obama ordered all U.S. flags at half staff April 16-20 to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.)
Her question took me off guard because I had not yet considered telling my kids about the bombings. So I gingerly explained to her, “Some bad things happened in our country a few days ago.” She responded, “Oh, yeah, in Texas and in Boston.”
Surprised that she knew about the news, I asked her “What do you know about Texas and Boston?” She said, “There was a fire [in West, TX] and also something in Boston.”
I said, “Yes, that’s right. There was a big fire in Texas, and in Boston there was something very sad.” I explained to her and Jackson what the Boston Marathon is, and how it’s an elite race and lots of people go to watch it. I explained how someone wanted to hurt people and they put two bombs at the finish line. We talked about how people were hurt and even killed. I told them one of the people who died was a kid. They were shocked and said, “I bet their family misses that boy and will miss him forever.” Jackson then said, “If I died, you would miss me too.” I assured him we would and tried to push the thought of that out of my head.
Tonight, one of the bombing suspects was killed and the other was captured. At Katie’s bedtime, I told her the police caught the bomber. She was relieved. I said, “Yes, it’s good news. They caught the man who hurt those people.”
And then my heart caught in my throat when she said, “God still loves him too.” She said it so assuredly and confidently.
I responded, “Yes. Not very many people are happy with him, but you’re right: God still loves him.”
She said, “I doubted he is a follower of Jesus.” I said, “No, I don’t think so.” And she finished with, “When you follow Jesus you don’t hurt people like that.”
Oh, my heart! This sweet girl of mine has such innocence, and also such faith in her Father who loves ALL of us: those who try to follow Him, and even those who bomb and hurt and kill. At age nine, she grasps the idea that God loves us in spite of our evil and sinfulness. She doesn’t hesitate in that knowledge; it is as natural and second-nature to her as breathing.
God, please protect my daughter’s reflexive love for You. Continue to cultivate her heart. One day her innocence will fall away, and I pray that you build a strong foundation in her heart so she will rely on Your strength even – and especially – then. Amen.