Sometimes we cry over personal pain or frustration. Sometimes over relational distress. Sometimes over an unexpectedly hard day.
Sometimes my tears are understandable and justified. Sometimes I’ve cried selfish tears, or over dumb stuff. But there is some of my crying that my kids have seen that (I’m convinced) does good for their souls… It rises up with uncontrollable force at unexpected moments. I’m not saying this crying is forced, or should be… but that when there are natural tears about serious things, it is a good thing, and can be instructive for our children.
Your kids need to know the truth about racism.
When we watch video clips of Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews… when we talk about cultural genocide in far-flung corners of the world… when slavery in America comes up in a homeschooling lesson… when a young black man is shot and black mothers across America mourn his death and fear for the lives of their sons… when we discuss the beauty and wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King’s peaceful resistance, I can’t hold back the tears.
Racism is an ever-present evil in this world. It happens among people who look entirely different from one another, and it happens among people who are strikingly similar in appearance but have come up with some reason why one group is below the other. Your children should learn about its horrors at your knee. They should hear your choked words and whatever words they can’t make out should be dotted with words like “wicked” and “evil” and “heartbreaking” as you talk about this tragic and terrible part of our shared history.
Oh I know it’s hard to talk about. You fear you’ll get it wrong. You fear you’ll say the wrong thing, or mess up, as you talk about race in America. And you may. You very well may. But you’ll be talking. And they’ll be listening.
They need to know. They need to know it’s not OK to use racial slurs (yes, this means you need to rein in every single one you use, even unintentionally or unthinkingly). Over time, as they grow older, they need to become acquainted with stories about lynching and the wickedness of the KKK. They need to understand that German youths were taught to hate, and that they believed their hatred against “those” people was justified. They need to be put on guard against racism rising up in their heart. They need to hear this from your lips… and it is beautiful and right for them to see tears in your eyes as you speak of these horrors.
Let them also hear that the Gospel of Christ can reconcile men and women of every race, and that Revelation says every tongue, tribe, people, and nation will be present in Heaven one day. Marvel and imagine together at how the songs will sound when every tongue and every culture brings its glories to honor the risen Christ. Through your tears, point them toward the beauty of diversity and how God wants to redeem all people for His glory.
Your kids need to know the truth about persecution of those who trust in God.
- Tell them the story of Jim Elliot and his buddies… that they *had* guns and could have protected themselves but had agreed in advance not to use them for self-defense against the Gospel-less tribe that speared them to death.
- Tell them stories about Iranian believers who — right now — are being exiled and murdered and persecuted for their faith.
- Let them hear about the underground Chinese church and how, even amidst the persecution, it flourishes.
- Tell them the stories of Acts… Paul being lowered in baskets out of cities because his life was in danger, and the time that the entire city of Ephesus shook with people calling for his death because the cultural religion was teetering and threatened.
- Tell them about Shadrach and his young pals and the man-made god everyone in that culture was supposed to bow down to, and how they did not bend their knees.
- Read them stories of the Jews and Corrie ten Boom in the Holocaust.
Let them know their time may be coming. Let them know our culture is building man-made gods too, and calling us to bow down, but that we must stand firm like Shadrach, and yet, choose non-violence like Jim Elliot.
It’s OK if your voice cracks… if fear seizes your brow as you ponder what may come to them in their generation. But even amidst the fear, as the tears wet your cheeks, call them to fierce loyalty to the Savior, even in the face of persecution. Lean in close and tell them,
“God is faithful. He is so good and so loving. Entrust your life to Him! He knows what you were made for and He will use your life in the very best way… for your good and for His glory! There may be basket days or fiery days in your future, but He is worth it! He is my treasure. I’m praying for you to trust Him and follow Him for your whole life.”
The Gospel should not be a Sunday subject. Your children need to hear it from your mouth, early and often.
- They need to hear about God’s radiant holiness (set-apartness… His intrinsic “otherness”).
- They need to know that they’re sinners, and that you’re a sinner too… and thus, can’t commune with God.
- They need to know that there is a way for them to be reconciled with a holy God… that Jesus Christ paid their debts, and they can be made right with God.
Recount it to them regularly. Sometimes, if you meditate on it enough, it may clutch at your throat and you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of it. You’ll be tempted to hold back your tears… don’t.
Let them see the greatness of God!
- He redeems sinners– not just cleaned up ones! Murderers! Terrorists! Haters of God! He redeems us– really terrible people– for His glory!
- He breaks down the barriers between races
- He makes broken things whole and beautiful
- He sweetens even persecution and makes it bearable
- He puts up with us– our sin and stagnation– and keeps working throughout our lives to make us pure and beautiful, inside and out.
- He is to be prized above all things.
Teach them that He’s worth it. Teach them, at your knee of His beauty and goodness. And if the tears flow sometimes as you pray to Him, as you marvel at His sovereignty, as you express your inmost thoughts and fears and ask for His intervention… all the better.
There are certainly other areas… peoples around the world who are dying without the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, abortion, the utter darkness of the 10/40 window, and the fact that America has nearly 5 Bibles for every 1 American but this is the least Bible literate generation since the inception of our country… but the same principle applies to those areas as to these.
Mainly what I want to encourage you with is this: it is more than OK for your kids to see you cry over serious, heartbreaking things. It is GOOD and RIGHT. It will work good in their souls for these tears to roll down your cheeks.
Racism, persecution, and the beauty of the Gospel are three areas where I want to encourage you… when the tears come, Mama, let your children see you cry.