I was struck by something last evening. It so profoundly moved me that I spent the entire evening (well into the wee hours of the night) thinking about it. How on earth it hadn’t astonished me hundreds of times prior, I’ll never understand. Conceptually, I know this idea, and I even write about it. Share the concept with my friends, and encourage the very cultivation of it within our home. And yet, it took a specific moment to send an electric charge of recognition throughout my mind and body.
Last night, I witnessed and acutely understood the mind-blowing and intense brilliance of my children’s innocence.
Without divulging the entirety of the conversation, I’ll share that, last night, Kensington learned what a miscarriage is. Sean had bought a large pot and a succulent for each child we’ve had together. As he was potting it, Kensington asked what the “other” small succulent was for. He answered, “That symbolizes the baby that mom and I lost.” She had the face of complete bewilderment. I instantly realized we had never explained it to her. Why? I really don’t know. Possibly because I don’t like talking about my pain, but I’ve gotten much better at that in the last few years, so I’m not all together sure, but there it was. Sean gave a very simple explanation that some babies simply stop growing – their heart stops – and they are gone.
I will never, ever forget her eyes. She went from innocence to knowing. In fifteen seconds flat, she knew something, a dark thing, that she will never not know. She instantly burst into tears, which I didn’t expect. She apologized over and over again to us. That it happened, that she feels bad for wondering what it would be like to have an older sibling, and back to apologizing. My heart broke for her new understanding, because it’s just one step closer to her entering into this world where us adults reside, (and have grown quite accustomed to, by the way.) She’s had that same look in her eyes when she learned about slavery. When I had to explain the procedures and actions they are to take if someone tried to take them. When we explained to them why foster children need homes.
That broken, glassy-eyed stare of recognition. They take one more step toward dark.
We do live in a dark and depraved world and to accept anything but that fact is willful negligence. It’s why Christ came to save. If we were clean, there would be no need, but we are a creation that is eating itself from the inside out. There are beautiful strands of grace and joy, of course, but this place is scary. This place needs a Savior. I think we, as adults, forget how dark things are. But one look in my eldest’s eyes reminded me of the vast gloom.
And my girls don’t know it yet….at least not much of it.
When I saw her face last night It was like an electric shock zapped me. I thought,
“Oh my gosh. The innocence of a child is remarkable. Simply brilliant. It’s the still remaining light in the somber overcast.
It almost steals my breathe just thinking about it, as I write. It is something that is inherent in each little being, and can be gone in a literal second. Stolen, never to be replaced. My girls walk around still believing in good, lovely, and delightful things. They talk to stuffed animals and dance awkwardly in front of friends because WHO CARES?! To think someone might care is to acknowledge at some point, someone is going to judge you based on something ridiculous. They ask important questions and come to luminous conclusions because nothing is at stake with them – except, that is, the truth. They have no phones or way to contact their friends, so when they see them, they are all in. They laugh and play and then shriek in horror when it’s time to go, because they can’t text them 10 seconds later. They don’t try to do good things because they’re going to post about it, or start the next non-profit. They just live.
My girls don’t know what pornography is.
Or human trafficking.
Or illicit hatred.
Or corporate greed.
Or domestic abuse.
They just wake up, eat cereal, learn, read, run and play, get a consequence for talking back, do cartwheels in the front yard, yell across the street to their friends, talk about their favorite ice cream flavor, say their prayers, go to bed and sleep. Wake up, repeat.
Stop and think for just one second about your child’s innocence. Really, really think about it. The glorious gift they have right now of not knowing.
Because of this not knowing, their lives are so so small.
But because of this not knowing, their lives are so so much bigger than ours.
It won’t always be, but please Lord, please let it be for awhile longer.