For about two years, I wrote a column titled, “Home Front” for Midnight Call magazine. The column was designed to address issues about mothering and home life. I had selected the title “Home Front” because I liked how the term called to mind the humorous image of a battle-weary mom trudging through minefields planted with the day-in and day-out challenges of motherhood. But when I christened my column with that name in the fall of 2001, I had no idea that within weeks, the phrase “home front” would take on a whole new—and much graver—significance.
The troubles redefining our lives on a daily basis after the September 11 terror attacks, the subsequent War on Terrorism and the more recent War for Iraqi Freedom plucked the language of war from the realm of being a convenient and descriptive literary tool in my writing arsenal to the reality of being a part of everyday conversation. My kids began bringing notes home from school outlining plans of action in case of terrorism.
I was told I needed to pull our family’s bills and birthday party invitations from the mailbox with gloved hands. My kids and I worried like never before when my husband would board a plane to take a business trip. The sense of safety we feel at home in the suburbs of the Bible belt of America is now supposedly dictated by colors like yellow and orange. As a girl who spent most of my growing-up years thinking “war” was a foreign concept—it either happened across the globe or in the pages of history–I am suddenly a wife and mom dealing with “war” on a level far too close to home.
The terror attacks, the War on Terrorism and the War for Iraqi Freedom have thrust moms into the trenches of and against some of the most difficult challenges we have ever faced. What could be harder than a mom having to tell her young child that her dad, grandparent, sibling, or other loved one died at the hands of evil in one of the World Trade Center towers?
More overwhelming than trying to explain to a seven-year-old why someone would take over an airplane full of innocent people and crash it into a building on purpose? More exhausting than laboring at “ground zero” on the front lines of the relief efforts in New York City? More unnerving than sending off to Iraq a son or daughter who serves in the military? Or more taxing than trying to maintain some kind of an emotional balance when each new headline or newscast triggers a new stream of tears about something sad, touching or terrifying?
These are battles no mom would ever choose to wage. But we can’t let the world situation intimidate us into mothering by circumstance rather than by choice. We could easily let the tragedy and the war nudge us into depression, defeat, helplessness, or fearfulness. Yet the Lord tells us in Psalm 18:39 that he has given us strength for the battle. I believe He would much rather see us use these events as a call to arms; an incentive to mother more deliberately, and with more of a dependence on Him, than ever before.
The recent world events give us an unprecedented opportunity to put feet on our faith, and to show others the reason for the hope that is in us (see 1 Peter 3:15). Simple Strategies: The terrorist attacks and the wars that have followed have caused me to rethink my mission on this earth, in my nation and in my home—as a mom. Here are some ways I believe God might be leading mothers to respond:
1. We can, by the grace of God, keep our fears in check. Our fears and insecurities not only illustrate a lack of faith to our kids and the world, but they also make our little ones feel scared and vulnerable. But how in the world is a woman supposed to keep from being frightened at the thought of anthrax? Of having her husband’s office building become another target for the terrorists? Of having her husband, her son, daughter, her friend being deployed to Iraq? First, by staying spiritually healthy through prayer and Bible study. Here’s one of many perfect verses to hide in our hearts during these terrifying times:
“And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (1 Peter 3:13).
And second, we can ward off fear by staying mentally healthy by limiting our daily intake of news. I’m pretty sure that reading the morning’s headline articles or watching the 10 o’clock news is a pretty healthy portion. But I’m very sure that watching every so-called expert detail his or her opinions on what “might” or “could” happen, 24 hours a day, is the equivalent of eating candy bars all day long. It’s just not healthy! We should stay informed about what’s going on in our nation and the world, but be careful to measure out a daily ration of news and views that doesn’t outsize our daily diet of God’s Word.
2. We can make our homes more than ever before; of a refuge of peace, reflecting God’s love. As moms, we set the tone of our homes. Our goal during these times—as during other, more “normal” times—should be to create an atmosphere that’s the direct opposite of the chaos pressing against our doors. Now more than ever, our families need the comfort of familiar routines, the peace of an organized home and schedule, and the joy of a fun family life.
I’ve taken some concrete steps toward that goal. For starters, I’m getting up earlier each day so there’s time to get myself physically and spiritually dressed, take care of a few chores, and wake the kids with bright eyes rather than sleep-filled ones. I’m clearing out the clutter and tackling chores I’ve been putting off for way too long, and I’m trying to emulate the Proverbs 31 woman, who looks well to the ways of her household, by doing “all things decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:4).
3. We can take good care of ourselves. “My heart is smitten, and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread,” (Psalms 102:4). My American Heritage Dictionary says “smitten” means “to affect sharply with deep feeling.” Surely the world events of recent history have affected us so sharply that it would be easy to forget to eat. In fact, I don’t think I did eat a thing that Tuesday, September 11, as I was watching planes explode into buildings, skyscrapers collapse, and news anchors cry on TV. I could hardly even tear myself away to pick up my kids from school that day. But if we don’t take care of ourselves by eating right and exercising, then we won’t be much good to our families—whether we’re in a crisis or not.
4. We can be conscientious gatekeepers. Information is bombarding our kids from all sides. The news, friends, teachers, bumper stickers and billboards all offer a conglomeration of ideas, images and attitudes that it’s difficult for even us grown-ups to sort through. We should explain events to our kids in terms they can understand and in the light of God’s Word.
5. We can refuse to yield to the hatred. Easy for me to say, I suppose, because I haven’t lost a loved one in the New York City or Washington attacks, in the Pennsylvania plane crash, or in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. I can’t imagine a person or a group of people more deserving of hatred than Osama bin Laden, the Taliban regime, or Saddam Hussein.
Yet God knows the dangers of humans engaging in hatred: It’s simply not our area. We need to remember—and remind our kids, that love, not hatred is God’s choice for us. We should love even our enemies, a concept impossible for a human mind to understand outside the radical realm of God’s all-powerful love, and enjoy the peace of knowing that justice is God’s hands, not ours: “…the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
In His Care
While we choose our steps through the obstacles that are ahead, may we draw closer than ever to the Lord God, who has a special place in His heart for moms: “He…shall gently lead those that are with young,” (Isaiah 40:11b). Could it be that He has this special place in His heart for us because we have the potential like perhaps no other part of His creation to provide our families and others with an earthly reflection—through our hearts and homes–of His peace, which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7)