A couple years ago, we started studying the Middle Ages in our homeschooling lessons. My daughter and I learned about the Crusades, a part of history that I had dreaded discussing. I mean, as a Christian, I'm embarrassed by it: "So this is when we decided to go ahead and live out the love and peace of Jesus by killing people who believe differently." Yeah, it doesn't make the Church look overly good. Or intelligent.
After one lesson, my daughter started to run off, but then she paused and turned around. "I'm sure glad we don't live back then when everyone was always fighting wars and stuff," she said. "It sounds scary."
I wasn't sure how to respond. I didn't want to tell her that there are still people being killed throughout the world because of their religion, or their ideology, or their politics, or their sexuality.
I didn't want my daughter to be fearful. Instead, I wanted her to believe that people are kind and that the world is safe, and maybe even that Santa Claus could be real -- in other words, I wanted her childhood innocence to last as long as it could.
But, of course, the world isn't perfect. There are crazy people out there. How do you explain that to a child?
A few days after that conversation, the shooting at Parliament Hill happened. Like half of Canada, I spent the day glued to the radio, listening to news updates. The reports were chaotic at first -- were there multiple gunmen? Multiple locations? Then came the news that the soldier who had been shot died of his injuries. He was from our city.
It was a senseless tragedy.
As I sat and listened with my baby boy in my arms, I thought about the soldier's mother -- how could I not? She'd never get to hold her son again. My heart broke for her. I tried my best to pray for her and her family.
That day, I also thought about the mother of the shooter and I tried to pray for her, too. I remember once hearing an interview with Monique Lépine, the mother of the gunman who killed 14 women at l'École Polytechnique, an event now known as the the Montreal Massacre.
Lépine said that when she first heard the news of the killings, she had been on her way to a prayer meeting. She said that she asked the group to pray for the killer's mother -- not yet knowing that she was asking them to pray for herself. That story has always stuck with me.
So I prayed for the shooter's mother. Both mothers. Both families. All the families that were touched by the events of that day.
We tell ourselves that we hate the sin but we love the sinner, but the rest of the world really can't tell the difference.
It was a small thing, but sometimes small things are all we can do.
On the day of the shooting at Parliament Hill, when I heard that the soldier had died, my first thought was to take the girls down to the local armoury and leave flowers -- a small gesture to show the friends and family of the fallen soldier that we cared. I wanted to bring the girls so that they would know that sometimes big scary things happen, but at the same time there are lots of people doing little kind things, and those little things all added up together become bigger than the tragedies themselves.
There is a great quote by Mr. Rogers that seems to circulate on social media every time a frightening event occurs: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mom would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
What a beautiful perspective -- a way to see the good, even in the bad. As my children grow older, I want them to be looking for the helpers. I want them to look for ways that they can be helpers too, even in tiny ways. That might mean praying. That might mean dropping off flowers to show that they care.
This weekend there was a horrific shooting in Orlando with at least 49 people dead. It was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
In the wake of this tragedy, it is important that we Christians do something to show the world that we are outraged, that we care. Because honestly? We have not done a good job of showing love to the LGBTQ2 community. We tell ourselves that we hate the sin but we love the sinner, but the rest of the world really can't tell the difference. Non-Christians are already calling us out on Facebook and Twitter for sending our #thoughtsandprayers today while we condemn gay people to hell tomorrow. Pretty accurate, actually.
Do you want to do something more than pray? One small act of love to counteract the overwhelming evil in the world? Commit to understanding why some of us Bible-adhering Christians do not believe that homosexuality is a sin. Read books like Epiphany: A Christian's Change of Heart & Mind over Same-Sex Marriage by Michael Coren or Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee.
You might not change your mind, but you might understand the issues in a new way. At the very least, dialogue within the greater church might be able to continue on at a deeper level, and we need better a better conversation than the one we've had.
Two years ago, my daughter told me that she was happy that she doesn't live in a scary world, but she had no idea how frightening it can actually be.
Incidentally, I never did bring my children to the armoury to leave flowers after the shooting at Parliament Hill -- I didn't want to tell them what had happened. I wanted my kids to stay innocent just a little while longer. Instead, I prayed quietly by myself as I listened to the radio in the kitchen.
Tonight, again, I'll pray. I'll pray for the families of the many victims in Orlando, especially for the mothers who have lost their children and for the children who have lost their innocence. I'll pray for the family of the shooter. I'll pray that we as Christians find a way to respond like Jesus would. And then, like all mothers listening to the news today, I'll hug my kids extra tight and pray that the world is a better place tomorrow.
This original version of this post was published on www.unhurriedhome.com.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
MORE ON HUFFPOST: