Calvin is doing great and it feels oh so good! His eyes are looking just beautiful and his coughing is becoming less. He’s still on the vent but breathing a lot on his own as well. We are making an important decision by five today. Family is taking excellent care of us (thanks to Carly, Kristin, Tara, Amy, Pat, Ellis etc!) and friends have been stocking our fridge with wonderful meals. Rachel (our friend who helps about three times/week with Calvin) is even taking the kids bowling tonight! Kristin sent up some great aromatherapy lotion and I’ve been busy massaging Calvin’s tight muscles with it. It’s supposed to brighten the mood and invigorate the mind . An added bonus is that our nurse today is someone that knows all about Calvin from this blog, how cool!
I wish I had some “Get Out Jail Free” kind of cards. Cards to use to get a pass from having your kids experience pain or grief. The problem is that if we had our way, we’d protect them from everything and they’d probably never realize the need of a Savior and the extent of His comfort.
Have you had hard realities to explain to your kids? Whether it’s breaking the news that mommy isn’t going to get better or that they have to heart surgery (and yes, things might hurt) or dealing with them being teased or bullied, kids need real answers. Saying that everything will be alright when it’s not only reinforces to your child that you don’t understand their fears, all’s lost when it goes wrong, and leads them see through false platitudes.
There is a way to talk to your kids about hard things and still provide the sense of security and safety that they crave. There is a way to speak honestly and simply with your children to prepare and help them through hard times.
1. Let them feel grief. So often we just want to put the band-aid on and make it all better, don’t we? What a blessing to be able to lead your children through grief (no matter the cause) when they are in their formative years. They will feel grief in life, it’s part of being in a fallen world–let this be a gentle guiding time of how to deal with it. Instead of avoiding the tears, let them come, acknowledge their pain. Grieving as a family allows them to vent their own sad feelings in a healthy way. This doesn’t always mean sitting down for a crying party, but being open and not rushing to stop the tears when they come (sometimes in unexpected places and times). Let it be a time for a hug, talking (if they feel like it), reading a book together, or praying together.
2. Explain why there are sad things. Let’s face it, it’s hard to explain to a child why another friend is struggling with cancer or why the person we’ve been praying for so long actually gets worse. God’s ways are “past finding out” on this side of life. It’s easy to become angry with God or feel frustrated that our prayers weren’t answered. Use this time to remind one another about the tragic seperation between us and God because of sin. There is sickness because of sin. There is bullying because of sin. There is death because of sin. We have a huge problem and need a huge solution. It’s deceptive to make children think that they will have a wonderful life without pain or trials if they just “trust God.” What a cruel game to play with their faith.
3. Outline the firm foundation. Now that you’ve affirmed the reality of pain and suffering it’s time to point out the other astounding truth, there is a refuge! Heaven and earth may pass away but the word of the Lord stands forever. We will experience pain, loss, and sorrow BUT there is someone to go to. Because of Jesus Christ we can be put back in relationship with our Creator, the bridge between us that was blown away has been built again by a Savior, it’s a new and living way (Heb. 10:20). Reaffirm to your child that this is even more sure than all the things they depend on. Jesus’ salvation is more sure and real than daddy and mommy’s love and care. No matter what earthly foundation cracks the foundation of Jesus Christ will never give way, it even conquers death.
4. Point them to Jesus’ humanity. Jesus knows fear. People tried to throw him over a cliff. Close friends did more than bully him, they delivered him to be murdered. Friends of his died. He had to be separated from his mother and put someone else in charge of caring for her. He had to be tempted with really hard things; hunger, thirst, loneliness, feeling forsaken of God! And now Jesus (who was victorious over these things) has risen and sits at the right hand of the Father interceeding for his own. He understands our infirmities, our fears, our weaknesses. He sympathizes, presents our case to the Father, and sends the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and comfort. He enters into our trouble with us and declares himself to be a present help. He is Emmanuel. God with us. Especially in the valleys.
5. Keep from excessive speculation. We love to imagine how things will be and worry about things that haven’t even happened. Somehow we pass this on to our kids as well. It is better to deal with what is at hand and model for them how to surrender to the Lord the next day. Don’t speculate about all the fears and worries that might come. It’s also good to not speculate on spiritual things that God has not revealed. We’ve had many discussions about heaven. It’s natural for kids to wonder about things. We explain things that the Bible does reveal, but instead of going on long trails about what might or might not be we need to emphasize the importance of paying attention to what God DOES say. It’s communicated over and over in the Word that we must be born again. We must repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must have a new heart. We must seek and find, now, this very day! This is what God is communicating to each of us and without his salvation in our hearts we are just as lost and without hope no matter what our future or heaven holds.
6. Sing songs about the character of God. We have texts implanted on our minds from music CD’s we listen to year around. This instructs our hearts and pops into our minds during hard times. One person starts the first line and everybody joins in. Sing hymns and psalms that lay out real truths, not a little ditty that falls apart upon dissection. Give real meat for them to be fed by. Let the Word of God be on their tongue and in the heart.
7. Pray together often with and for one another. Let this be the most natural response. If one person is having a hard time in the car, pray out-loud with your eyes open. Lift them and the situation up to the Lord immediately. Show them that the problem may be bigger than you but you know where to bring it! Teach the siblings to pray often for one another and immediately with any need, praise, or reflection. Let them see you turning to the Lord, be a real life model of “casting all your cares upon him.”