Two weeks ago there was a man who tried to lure some middle schoolers into a van in our area. Last week one of W's friends in his class (4th grade) had a gun pointed at him & backpack rummaged through while he was waiting for the bus before school, not far from our house. Now this mass shooting in CT (and the mass knife attack in China) hits us all so hard, particularly those of us with children the same age. As many of you, I've thought about this a lot today. I've thought about the day that Columbine happened and how I was at school and worried for my friends there. I've thought about how I would react if something similar happened at my children's school. I've thought about the (sadly) many people I know whose parents or other loved ones were murdered. I've thought of the innocent children I know who have been victimized. I've thought of my own experiences, which I will not share here but am always willing to discuss in private. I've thought of the future and what it holds for our children and our society at large. I've thought of the children whom I have stewardship over and my desire to love them, protect them, teach them, and preserve their innocence and childhood. I've thought a lot about the gospel and about what our prophets today tell us and what Heavenly Father must make of all this. These are the thoughts I've concluded with...

We live in a society where there is a massive moral decline underway. We have been told to expect this for years and so we shouldn't be surprised. We have also been reminded time and again about how joy and peace and fulfillment can and may be had amidst this. We shouldn't fear. God cannot take away the agency of others. That was His gift to us. And so we sometimes have to suffer consequences of others' actions. We sometimes have to witness innocent lives damaged. But we can take peace and comfort in knowing that He is there for them as He is for us. Christ felt all those things so that He could succor us in our sorrows. We are sad for the pain in the world because we mourn with those that mourn. 

I want my children to remain children. I felt that I missed out on a lot of childhood. I'm only now discovering how to be a 'child' and play and let loose as I get myself to play with my own children. My oldest is in 4th grade and my youngest is Pre-K. I want them to believe in Santa and the tooth fairy and in 'magic' because I owe it to them to have a childhood. I want them to know that miracles and wonderment still exist in a world that can also be filled with pain and grief and fear if we let it. I think it is important to balance those 'big' things with it. I am not going to keep my children home or inside to 'protect' them from the world and all the bad guys out there. That would rob them. Instead I am teaching them about their Savior. I am teaching them that bad things happen but they have a best friend who is always there for them to turn to. I am teaching them that when they are scared or in a scary situation (like a gun to the head) they can say a quick prayer in their heart and the Holy Ghost WILL comfort them and tell them what to do. I am teaching them that we all have agency and so sometimes people make bad choices and sometimes those choices affect others.... So our agency allows us to chose how to react and respond to those. This world is becoming so desensitized. I know many will blame video games and gun laws and whatnot....but it doesn't get to the root of the problem. People need to relearn how to cope and how to interact and how to BE. They need to know that actions have consequences and be retaught to think about those beforehand. I heard a school police officer say that is the biggest problem he sees- that these kids play these video games and get so used to just quick responses and reactions that they don't understand that real life requires forethought because it has real consequences. I am trying to teach my children that. I will not always be there with them. I cannot protect them from the world. I won't rob them the experiences of life for fear they may be harmed. Instead I will teach them about agency and choice and consequence. I will teach them to name and identify feelings and positive and negative feelings. I will teach them that it's okay to not be perfect and that it's okay to feel bad things. And I will teach them that miracles happen every day and there is SO much good and beauty in the world. And I will teach them that no matter how much their dad and I love them, they have a Heavenly Father who loves them SO much more and is always anxiously concerned for their welfare....and so they can always turn to HIM. This gives me great strength and comfort and peace because I feel these things deep to my core. .... because I've experienced them personally.


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