he said. the hard talk of the week

The last week was a hard week for our country as racial bias took front page in a tragic way.

I paused for a few days to wrestle with my own thoughts, tendencies, convictions, and born-into-privileges. And while all of those thoughts are simply my own, I realize my voice is the most powerful for my children at this stage in their life. 

So we were NOT silent with Ethan on what happened.

In the morning at 545am when Ethan walked into our room, fully dressed….I scooped him up, tucked him right next to me under the covers, and opened the hard conversation…..

“Ethan I need to tell you something hard and sad. This week a lot of people and families are sad because some people made bad choices. They decided to look at people on the outside, and if they looked different then them, or they felt afraid of them, they decided to hurt them. And they hurt them so bad the ambulances couldn’t help. This made people sad and frustrated. And it made God sad too.”

He asked a few clarifying questions, paused, and kept cuddling. I wanted to shield him completely. But that’s not how we live. For better or worse, we value transparency and open conversation which means we live boldly with even our (young) children.

Later we read some of Ethan’s books. These books are filled with kids from all of the world playing, and traveling, and sleeping. They are beautiful.

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As usual, he pointed to a little girl, She looks just like Nene!

Yes her skin is darker and our skin is lighter. See? Isn’t the dark and light skin both so beautiful?

Yes. Oh mommy!! Um, Um….Michelle and Adan have dark skin. And Levi too I think!

Yes you’re right. Jesus made people ALLLLLL over the world and we all have different hair and skin. We respect and love everyone because…..why?

God loves everyone.

Yes! Some people are scared of people who look different then them. But that’s wrong. A good choice is being safe with everyone, and showing love to everyone.

Ya mommy, I know dat. 

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Then today, I asked Ethan to tell Matt about our hard talk we had.

“People are sad because the mean people made bad choices because their skin was dark and they look different. But Jesus loves everyone.”

He totally understood. And recalled. And at not even 4 years old, he had a basic understanding. Seed planted.

No. I can’t tell him the complexities, or the political charge, or the parents grieving, or the teens scared to get in their cars. I can’t tell him the hard work of police and how their families are scared too. I can’t tell him kids his age watch unspeakable things happen to their families everyday all over the world. I can’t tell him that people love to hate and judge first before learning someone’s name. I can’t yet tell him of our world history and how hurting and killing people out of hate and fear saturates our history.

Pick a civil war, or a world war, or a terrorist attack. Pick an era in our country or around the world, even in the last century. Gender, age, race, orientation, religion…someone, somewhere, always, is hated upon for a reason that is wrong. No one is spared from this plague of fear, greed, slavery, abuse of the poor, prostitution, and child labor. God weeps as he watches people he made for beauty, instead live in pain.

But I can show Ethan and Evy the beauty of the world and God’s people. And I can demonstrate being a bridge, standing with different cultures in peace, and urging the Church to speak and act in way’s that change the flawed culture system we have built over decades. I pray I can be a voice in my children’s life, likely flawed in my own approach, but point them in the direction Jesus wants for their lives. May the seed be planted at a young age, in their innocence, to start to develop a pure love for all people.