We, as parents, have chosen to shield our kids from as much as we can. To preserve their innocence for as long as we can.
As much as it is possible, we want to be the ones to reveal to them the ways of the world, its disappointments and shortcomings. In our time and in our way. We can't - and in no way would want to - shelter them forever. But childhood is so fleeting, and we choose to make it as pure as possible for them in this fallen world.
I learned a tough consequence of that choice yesterday. And that is the fact that it hurts to have to be the one to ebb away at that innocence. Even if it is the best for them, it hurts to be the one to do it.
I hadn't realized how little Dale knew about September 11th. After reading a book that mentioned the twin towers, he asked, out of the blue, "Why aren't the twin towers there anymore?"
My heart skipped a beat, but I took a breath and answered him honestly: "Because someone flew an airplane into them."
Already, I was surprised at the lump in my throat at having to say that. I hadn't felt that emotional about the attack since the day we watched the towers fall on live tv.
But if that question had been hard to answer, it held no comparison to his next two.
"Was it an accident?"
The tears that had sprung to my eyes at first now threatened to overflow and my throat got even tighter.
"No. It wasn't an accident."
"Why? Why did they do that?"
Oh my heart. It broke. Right then, my heart broke for the innocence of my boy, the lives lost that day, and the evil that is so prevalent in our world.
I did my best to give a brief, yet thorough, honest, 7-year-old appropriate answer to why someone would do something like that. My answer was relevant to what he already knows about our world, sin, and God's people. He was satisfied with the explanation and went about his way. Someday he will learn more about that day and those events. He will learn more about other evils and disasters. He will know fear and betrayal.
As long as we can, we will protect him from these things. As long as they are young, we can often reassure our children with a hug, a cuddle, and simple explanations when unpleasant things must be learned or experienced.
While we are gradually revealing the evils of the world, we are at the same time planting in their hearts the Truth. Showing them Justice and Holiness. Teaching them the true source of love, and grace, and peace. Teaching them of God's goodness, and His power to save. It is our prayer they choose to accept that gift of salvation. To choose to live in complete surrender to God.
And as their eyes are opened to the world, and their hurts outgrow our hugs and simple explanations, they will have grown up from the decision of salvation into the maturity of a relationship with the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace. The One who offers much, much more than we as parents ever can.