Dear Joseph, Elle and Charlotte,
Last week a radio host asked me in an interview to make a political statement about the state of the world and how difficult it is to raise kids in this current cultural climate. My answer disappointed her. She was hoping for doom and gloom mixed with some religious jargon about how these are signs of the end of things. Instead, I told her that raising kids in this world feels hopeful.
And I absolutely mean it.
Please don’t let well-meaning adults catastrophize the events of the world right now. Yes, terrible things are happening, but the truth is terrible things are always happening and quite honestly, they always will until God comes and makes all things right.
One thing that I want to tell you is when you see heartbreaking things happening in the world, there are always good things happening right in the midst of horror. I learned this from Mr. Fred Rogers, who made Daniel Tiger everything he is today. Mr. Rogers once said that when he was little and felt scared by the news, his mom always reminded him to “look for the helpers.” You can always find them.
Just like last summer when we got off a plane, only to be greeted by every TV in the airport looping video about the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida. Remember how we pointed out the brave people who were risking their lives to drag their wounded friends out of the building? Or the strangers who drove their pickup trucks to transport the wounded to the hospital? Or the brave policemen who stormed into the building to save as many people as possible. In every situation where terror exists, there are always helpers who show up and remind us that good is more powerful than evil.
Hope takes some noticing. It isn’t something we can wait around for; it takes work to train our eyes and thoughts to look for it. So continue to look for the helpers and be the helpers because that is participating in bringing God’s kingdom come.
The second thing that I want to tell you, is that I have complete confidence in you. You are a generation that is woke. (I know you are thinking I am super cool for knowing what “woke” is – you’re welcome for that.) But seriously, your generation is aware. When I was growing up, I had no clue about politics, what was happening in the Middle East or why I needed to care about justice and liberty for all. You on the other hand, ask good questions and make room for diversity. You are advocates by nature and growing up in a time when the images you see on TV don’t make you afraid; they cause you to act. You are interested in changing the future, not just critiquing it, and that is why I am hopeful.
I am sorry that my generation has been modeling criticism over action and taking their frustrations out on people online they have never met; instead of feeding the hungry people who live within a few miles of them, or inviting someone over for dinner who voted differently than they did. I am convinced the power of your generation will be your heart for action and an awareness of the power of your words. There is a movement bubbling up among you and your friends that goes beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living. Yours will be a generation that stops complaining about culture and the church and starts becoming the kind of culture and church we are all dreaming of. It is a contagious revolution with remarkable potential.
Which is why raising children in this world is both thrilling and hopeful.
So my precious offspring, thank you for showing us a better way; for being silly and reminding us to play. Because what we need right now is a lot less doom and gloom radio interviews and a lot more playing.
I am so grateful to be your mom.
All my love always,
Mandy Arioto is a mom of three who continually wonders when she became old enough to raise other human beings. Mandy’s new book Starry-Eyed: Seeing Grace in the Unfolding Constellation of Life and Motherhood was released on August 30, 2016. Order it now wherever books are sold. And check out mandyarioto.com
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of The MOPS Magazine. If you didn’t get a copy and would like your own, you can subscribe to get The MOPS Magazine in your mailbox every season. If you subscribe, forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll shoot a copy of the current issue in the mail to you for free … just because we like you.