Last night I smothered them all in kisses. Soft cheeks still ripe with innocence and youth. Noses dotted with the freckles of childhood, when life is secure and free and beautiful and each day can be met with wonder and imagination.
I don’t tell them about the fires. I don’t mention the lives lost and the political uproar, the fear for what tomorrow might hold. I don’t share the unrest or the prevailing hatred that threatens to overwhelm. While flames lick the embassies and grieving loved ones bury heroes, I play another round of UNO, wipe another runny nose and gather my chicks under my wing with nothing more than a prayer.
These are scary times. I look at my children sometimes and I wonder, what will they face? I think of the little girl who may already be waiting for us across the ocean and I long to gather her close, too. To protect her from the scary. To tell her it’s okay, everything is going to be alright.
I haven’tcompletely sheltered the kids. Sloan and I talked politics just the other day. He watched footage of the 9-11 Memorial and I did not try to hide my tears as I listened to a mother remember her son who perished in the flames of that awful day. He knows that evil exists. He understands that there are those who possess a hatred so fierce it causes them to commit the unthinkable.
But while these flames burn, I feel an overwhelming urge to keep my little ones near and to guard their innocence with all the ferocity I’ve been given as their mother. I whisper prayers over them each night. I pray for protection and peace and for days filled with the magical fantasy that only the youthful can possess.
I pray this not just for my children, but for all the children. I think of Moses and Mwajuma and the different kind of innocence they possess. I pray for the little ones who are trapped right in the center of the flames, the ones burying their daddies and the ones who go to sleep at night to the sporadic sounds of gunshots.
In the nighttime hours, I study the candidates and dissect what they believe so that, when the time comes, I can use what little power I have to try and protect the future for my children. I learn and try to understand and ultimately I remember that in the end, it is God who places people in power and it is all for a reason.
I will fight the flames the only way I can and I will do so with as much education as I can to ensure I truly understand the choices I am making. Because those choices don’t just affect me - they affect them. They affect my children, the ones who are set to grow up in this beautiful, wonderful, scary, volatile world.
My vote and my prayers are the only weapons I’ve got and I take my responsibility to utilize them seriously.
Yesterday, I sat behind a woman and her three children who had that very morning said goodbye to a husband and a daddy. He had left in the early morning hours for a nearly nine-month long deployment to Afghanistan. I watched as she and her mother-in-law clutched hands through the worship set, each swiping tears from her eyes in a swift motion of strength and vulnerability.
Two women with the young ones huddled securely beneathe their arms. A hero sent into the flames. My vote and my prayer all I have as back up.
I believe in the power of both.
I will utilize both my vote and my prayers with as much humility and wisdom as I have been granted. I will vote with passion and conviction, but I will not step into the voting booth with hatred.
Hatred ignites the flame.
I have a responsibility to guard my chldren – all the children - from the heat of those flames.
I urge you, my friends, to educate yourselves before this election. Don’t vote based on emotion or popularity or even based on what you’ve voted in the past. We cannot be lackadaisical in our knowledge of the issues. We must go forth with conviction and courage.
The heat of the flames must compel us forward in wisdom, grace and humility and, above all else, we have to protect the little ones who are coming up behind us.
Are you prepared to vote?