Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Letter to Grandparents, in Response to the Boston Marathon Attacks

Dear Mama and Papa, Cappy and Daboo,
in response to yesterday’s attacks...

We are grieving after yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. Grieving on so many levels. For the victims and their families, for the city of Boston in general, and for our country enduring yet another terrorist attack.

We are heartsick that your grandchildren are growing up in a world where “terrorist attack” is part of their vocabulary. That our young children are exposed to terrible crimes and horrific school shootings and cyber bullying that destroys lives of both the victims and the perpetrators.

We have a couple of friends who ran the marathon yesterday. One Fort Worth friend crossed the finish line about ten minutes before the bombings, and then she and the rest of her family (including one of Branson's baseball teammates) walked a few blocks from the finish line to get a better view of the runners. Their two older boys (14 and 9) were there to witness the events, and will no doubt come home to continue processing the experience. But their youngest baby boy, only about 6 months old, stayed home with his grandparents. 

So yesterday amidst the photos and images and news reports, I kept thinking of those sweet grandparents. Kept thinking about them holding that baby boy, waiting anxiously for the, "It's ok, we are all safe," phone call, hating that their older grandsons had to witness the events, and the dark grief that surely shadows their infant grandson’s future. What kind of world will these boys face?

And of course my thoughts to the four of you - our own parents - what kind of world faces your adult children and precious grandchildren? 

We were home as a family last night, an evening uniquely void of baseball games and practices. After a relaxed dinner on the back patio we heated up the hot tub and enjoyed an hour or so of just being together. Little Esther should have been headed to bed,  but the opportunity for time together trumped a generous night’s sleep.

Before getting out of the spa out and drying off, Corbin asked each of us to say a brief prayer - a sentence or two - for Boston and all those affected by the bombings.

Both our boys had seen images and updates of the bombings on Instagram, but the girls were unaware. Corbin explained the marathon tragedy in simple terms. Both girls instantly came over to sit close to us. Basden then turned her head away and asked why we told her. We explained we knew she’d hear about the attacks, and we wanted it to be from us. She could hardly bear it. Said it made her feel scared. 

The children’s prayers tugged at my heart: 
- A six-year-old asking God that no more bombs would go off and that those who were hurt would heal quickly.
- An 11-year-old acknowledging that God would bring something good out of it, that it was for a reason, and asking God to heal the families.
- A 13-year-old asking God to be with victim’s families, but also asking why He would allow this after December's Connecticut shootings. Your oldest grandson felt angry at the attackers, and hoped they stayed in jail forever.
- And lastly a sweet nine-year-old simply asking God to be with families, to comfort them.

So Mama and Papa, Cappy and Daboo, in light of yesterday’s tragic events and the ensuing conversations, my heart goes out to you, the grandparents. It’s hard enough to parent facing the unknowns of our future, but I think there must be an even deeper, despairing pull of our country’s decline through the weighted lens of a grandparent.

I want you to find comfort in the fact that as this crazy world continues to surprise and sadden us, we choose to find our comfort and trust and direction in the One who is Unchanging ~ the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is not surprised by any of this. 

Be assured that we will teach our children, your grandchildren:

- About the lives of our country’s heroes. About America’s history, of our foundation on a Godly, Biblical heritage  

- What the words of the Star Spangled Banner refer to. That as the kids remove their ball caps and sing along with the words at sporting events, chills should run up and down their spine in gratitude for the heroes before them and the freedom our country provides  

- Like those heroes, that there will be a time for them to choose courage. To be valiant. To stand up for what they believe, and for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

- About Biblical heroes: men and women with whom they can relate having dealt with sin and purity, pride and humility ~ stories woven for revealing God’s redemptive grace. 

- That we find peace not in this world, but only in Jesus. Jesus tells us not to assume that He came to bring peace to this world, but in fact he came with a sword. And then he also says, “In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Matt 10:34, Jn 16:33)

- That no matter what, the plans of the Lord stand firm forever. No matter nuclear attacks from North Korea, no matter America’s insane debt crisis, no matter horrific abortion clinics, and no matter even burglaries right here in our neighborhood. No matter what. The purposes of God’s heart stands firm through all generations - even your grandchildren’s! (Ps 33:11)  

After our prayer last night, we asked the kids if they remembered what song David Murphey walked up to for his at bats during last year's Ranger Games. Instantly, Basden started singing:
All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong...
(“Where I Belong”, Building 429)
But then, too, we reminded them of this cherished, old hymn, one that brings incredible comfort:
This is my Father's world.
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!