I’ve always dreamed about having a daughter. Maybe it’s because I am a female and I’ve always related more to other women. Maybe it’s because of the great mother-daughter relationship I’ve had with my mother. I want to do mother-daughter things. I want to be her best friend. I want to be there to pick her up after her heartache, to cheer her on during her successes (and trust me, there will be many), and to answer her questions about life.
But what am I going to say when she asks the hard questions? The questions about this world we are living in. What am I going to say when she asks the same questions that bring me to my knees and leave tears rolling down my cheeks?
What am I going to say when she learns of a time that millions died from a disease called the coronavirus? What am I going to say when she asks me where God was in a time that people couldn’t even hold their loved ones’ hand on their deathbeds? What am I going to say when she asks how the government could let thousands of people struggle to keep their businesses alive or even feed their families?
Or what about when she asks how a police officer could get away with stepping on an innocent black man’s neck, blocking his airway, and ending his life before he even had the chance to do something big with it? What can I say when she asks how we let this happen when I don’t even comprehend it myself? What about when she asks me how God could let His people be treated this way? “Why does God let bad things like that happen?” she might ask. And truthfully, I don’t know.
I don’t know exactly where God is in a world that lets police officers get away with arresting, shooting, and killing innocent people on the basis of their race. I don’t know why millions of people had to leave this world without saying goodbye or how we could let millions of people lose their businesses or go hungry. I don’t know why it is so difficult to change a system that is supposed to be “by the people, for the people, and of the people” to include all people. I don’t know how to fix it or make it go away. I wish I could just take the darkness away.
I will tell her what I don’t know, which is a lot. What I don’t know will keep her searching for answers, justice, and peace in a world that so desperately needs people to stop accepting what we deem normal. We need a new normal, and it is up to us to find it and raise a generation of individuals that do not hide behind broken systems, privilege, and what has always been the way. I will also tell her what I do know to be true. This is the hope I am believing for her.
I do know that God was in the hearts of the essential workers during the pandemic that plagued the world. God showed up in the people who spent 16-hour days in protective gear, endangering their lives to care for the sick and do the research that would lead to a cure. He was present in the people we often take for granted, the grocery store workers, the teachers, the behind-the-scenes workers. In the hearts of those who supported small businesses. In the people who made us smile when the world seemed silent. God was there.
I do know that God showed up in the minds of people nationwide and worldwide in attempts to protest, raise awareness, and make change. These were the people who, regardless of their race, banded together to demand change, even as they faced the worst examples of brutality we’ve ever faced. These people showed up, not on social media, but in real life, with real risks, to bring centuries of injustice, unfairness, and a broken system to light. God was in the people of color who used their voices and rallied together. God was in the white people who did not stand behind their privilege but stood with their brothers and sisters to fight for human rights. God was in every little success, whether it was the adoption of a new perspective or the end of a silence that lasted too long. God was there.
I won’t be able to tell her why these things happen. I won’t be able to save her from the pain or the heartache the darkness causes. But I hope I can bring about a light in her. I hope I can teach her to listen to her sadness, asking herself what is causing her heart to break and what action it can prompt her to take. I hope this comes about, not from conversation, but from her seeing me take action myself. I hope to inspire her to be a leader by becoming one myself.
When confronted by the darkness we are facing in the world today, don’t just take action for you. Don’t just take action because it is what is trending on social media. Take action because it is the right thing to do. Take the action that God is prompting in your heart. Take action, because one day, your child may just ask you what part you played in the healing of this world, and that is a question I hope we all can be proud to answer.