What do I say to my daughters of 7, 4, 3, and 1 when they ask about the fires in our favorite city?
When they ask why people are being mean to each other, when their understanding of being mean doesn’t even come close to the hatred, division, and injustice they’re asking me about?
When at this point they still believe that God loves everyone, no matter what they look like, no matter what they do – and can’t understand and grasp that other people don’t live like that?
I’m usually pretty good with my words. Polished, sincere, well spoken or written.
I have a lot heavy on my heart though, and it’s hard to say whether I can express it as well as I want. But I’ll do my best.
To my daughters,
Sometimes the world is broken. Like the front leg of our piano. It’s splintered and fractured and barely held together. When we leave it alone, I don’t think anyone really notices. Your mom and I forget most times. But sometimes we wrestle and we play and we knock into things in the living room and we break it again. Your mom and I, we do what we can to fix it – but I’ll tell you that your dad is the worst at fixing things. He gets lost in fix-it type stores. If you send him to Lowe’s to get something, he takes twice as long as normal people. We are not qualified to fix things like a broken piano leg.
But that will not stop us from doing our best. We will always try and do our best.
Sometimes I’m not a good dad. I get frustrated or mad easily and I don’t say things to you guys in the way that I want. Just like that – a lot of people are the same way. Like when Everest is upset and all she knows how to do is yell, there are people in this world who don’t know how to cope and work with their emotions. These people do things to other people for the wrong reason. Maybe they don’t like their skin color, maybe they think they’re better than someone else because they have more money or things, maybe they are hurting and they don’t know how to process their pain. People do things for all kinds of reasons. People hurt people.
But I want you to know there’s always a better way.
There’s a story in the Bible that Jesus tells about a guy who goes on a trip and bad people hurt him. They take his things and leave him to die. Some people who should be nice to him and help this man pass him, but they don’t help him because they are scared to interrupt their lives to help this guy out. But another guy comes along. Nobody listening to Jesus’ story would have thought this guy would be the hero. He was different from the guy who was beaten up and robbed, they weren’t supposed to like each other. Other people in this situation might have been happy this man was beaten up, because that’s how much they didn’t like each other. But this guy was different. That’s why he was the hero of the story, because he loved people no matter who they were. Jesus taught us in the story not only that we should help people, but we should love even the people that the world tells us to hate. Not just be nice to them, but love them. Jesus says it in the story the man had compassion on him. Compassion is not just being nice, but it is also seeing something wrong with someone or seeing someone go through something and trying to make it better.
Jesus did that for us. For everyone. He saw how much we messed things up, and he helped make things better. He gave everything, even his own life – to show compassion. To everyone.
No matter what color we are, no matter what we have or don’t have, no matter if we live in Minnesota or Florida or Africa or Australia, no matter if we love Jesus back or not.
People will not always have compassion. Some people only have compassion for those that are hurt and not the people who hurt others. But I want you to remember that Jesus showed us to have compassion for everyone. To pray for not only our friends but our enemies too. To love our closest friends and family and also to love the people that will never love us back.
I wish I were really good at this. I’m not always. In fact I mess up a lot. But I want you to be better than me.
I want you to be like Jesus.
When there are fires I want you to ask, how can I put them out?
When there are people hurting or angry I want you to ask, how can I help?
When there are people being hurt I want you to ask, how do I stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves?
When people need to speak I want you to ask, how can I listen better?
And I always want you to pray.
Pray God’s will is done where you’re at just like it is where He is at.
Pray He provides for you and for others when they need it.
Pray that He forgives you, just like you forgive others – because He asked us to.
Pray that he brings life to dead things, and restores things that are broken.
Because I can’t fix our piano. No matter how hard I try, I need help. I need someone who has the capability of fixing something I can’t.
That’s how God is for us in every situation. He can fix what we can’t. We try our best to love people and be compassionate like He is.
And we can trust Him to help us with the rest.
I love being your dad, and I’ll never stop loving you.
And the crazier thing is, God loves you more than that.
Never forget it.