One of the arguments I hear from people not wanting to have children is they don’t want to bring them into such a wicked world. If we understand the purpose of life, we know that a mortal experience is crucial to Heavenly Father’s plan. Yet, I can see their point.
I’m sure we’ve all had those moments, those heart-wrenching glimpses of global terror, and worry at our children’s future. Looking to events around the world, to the potential threats in our homes, communities and countries, it’s easy to let fear take hold. Will our children have enough food to eat? Will they be sent off to war in their lifetime? Will they succumb to a terrible disease or accident?
We know this is all part of the Great Journey, but it’s painful to think of what our children will have to go through. There is an urge to shelter our kids from their own future, from the pains and struggles they are sure to encounter. We are inextricably linked to the feelings of our kids. We’re there when they bump up against the terrifying and the terrific. We help them decipher the tricky passages of life, the day-to-day encounters of shadow and light.
My son Preston recently started working his way through the Harry Potter books. I know people have mixed feelings about the series, but in our family we love the strong messages about good versus evil. Plus, a world of magic is just plain fun, and has turned two of my non-readers into voracious readers of fiction.
When Preston began devouring the first book in the series, I was thrilled but also hesitant. The Harry Potter stories include some scary elements. The evil is real and tangible. As Preston told me about his favorite parts and his favorite characters, I inwardly cringed. A lot of those characters lose their lives to the evil forces. Preston is going to feel the heartbreak when these beloved characters die. He will cry at the end of Book 6, and again at Book 7, just as I did many years ago.
I could, in theory, spare him the heartache. I could sit him down and simply say, “This is what happens. There are lots of wizarding fights. Some fun stuff happens. A lot of people die in the process. The good guy wins.” But to do that would deprive him of the personal journey, of working his way through the magic and mystery of those pages, the thrill of the quidditch matches, the mystery of the spells, the friendships forged over years of schooling at Hogwarts. Yes, the death and sacrifice of many good people, but also the ultimate triumph of good over evil. That’s the journey, and I don’t want to rob him of that experience.
We need to have faith in life’s process, outside the pages of a book. It is one thing to tell our kids “life is hard.” It is quite another for them to live through it, and learn through it. To come out on the other end of pain and difficulty is one of the miracles that a mortal life affords. We can tell our kids to be happy, but it is part of their responsibility to find happiness.
We need to have faith in the human spirit to pick itself up. The will to not simply survive but to thrive is what carries this world forward.
A dear friend of mine just underwent her second brain surgery. Her first surgery, seven years ago, stripped her of all ability to walk, talk and see. She has spent the last seven years relearning the basic functions so she can take care of her young family.
This is a woman of great faith and understanding. She told me once, “If given the choice, I would still go through this experience for what I’ve learned and what I’ve become.”
Will our kids go through hard times? Without a doubt. Yet, to withhold from them the opportunity to experience all that life has to offer shows a lack of faith in life’s purpose.
When we bring children into a world that is very much flawed, we take on the sacred duty of traveling alongside them, teaching them they are never alone, there is One who has walked this road before, and he has already triumphed and will be with us, on through the last chapter of our earthly story.