by Katie Powell Bell ('08)
Since the day my daughter was born, I’ve desperately wanted to keep her safe from the world. Long before she could even walk, I would randomly burst into tears thinking about how one day, some jerk would break her heart and I would be sad to see her sad. Shortly after my son was born, I vowed to my husband that I would “seriously harm” any girl who hurt him. (Pray for my husband, y’all.) God entrusted these tiny, precious people into my care and it hurt me to know one day the world wouldn’t be kind to them – and there wasn’t much I could do about it. The world would do what she does and I would pray them through the good, the bad and the ugly.
Then 2020 happened and everything felt scary. No more playschool for Annie, no play dates or Chick-Yay lunches with friends. No church and definitely no Bible class. Masks were required everywhere. No hugs. No kisses. My baseline mom worries took a dramatic turn to keep up with the new heaviness of the world, with all the changes and cancelled plans. Some days we pretended like everything was fine! What virus? I thanked God that our kids were ages 3 and 1 (now 4 and 2), therefore blissfully unaware, for the most part, that there was anything to fear. We spent lots of time together as a family, we cooked, we gardened (aka Ollie ate a lot of dirt), and we tried to help our friends and neighbors feel a little less lonely when everything was shut down.
Then there were other days.
The days when one, or all of us, would get down because we missed our friends. We missed a routine. We missed being able to see our people without a mask and a heavy dose of anxiety. I was over cooking, missed traveling and refused to turn on the news because everything looked so bleak.
On one of those “off” days when we were counting down to bedtime, I laid Annie in bed and asked her to say her prayer. I was mentally and physically exhausted from attempting to explain to her several times that day that we had been exposed to “the virus,” therefore we had to stay away from everyone for a while. She had cried and so had I. None of it felt fair. So imagine my surprise when I heard her prayer.
“Dear God, thank you for this day and the beautiful sunshine. Thank you for this wonderful world you’ve given us and thank you for my family. I love them so very much. Amen.”
Out of the mouth of babes.
As I kissed her good night I had a crazy thought: What if our kids are going to be just fine?
What if instead of this pandemic making them feel isolated and anxious, they learn the beauty of community and relationships?
What if instead of feeling stuck, they feel seen and loved after all the uninterrupted family time?
What if they learn early on the value of good health and always take steps to stay healthy?
What if they grow to love worshiping with their church family?
What if they learn to see God in nature and grow up knowing, without a doubt, God cares for them and always provides?
What if they see how God’s family takes care of each other, in the forms of a casserole left at the door or an encouraging card or call, and grow up knowing they are always at home with God’s family?
What if our kids learn how to have grace, for themselves and for others, in a challenging season?
What if our kids learn from the world around them and use that knowledge to make a better world in the future?
What if, instead of our kids hearing the fear and anxiety in our grown-up prayers, our kids learn to pray about whatever is on their hearts because they know God is listening?
What if God is equipping them, through these unique challenges and experiences, to change this world in a major way?
What if our kids grow up knowing home is wherever their family is, and where there is family there is plenty of love to go around?
What if, after all is said and done, our kids will be just fine?
Bell, her husband Taylor (2014) and their two children, Annie and Ollie, live in Jackson, Tennessee. She is vice president of publicity for the EPIC Agency in Nashville. A preacher’s daughter (Dr. David Powell of the FHU Bible faculty is her father.) and a preacher’s wife, she holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from FHU and a master’s degree from Lipscomb University.