This last week I have dealt with the "Momo" hysteria. When I first learned of it, I brushed it off as a ridiculous prank. Then my wife asked my daughter if she had heard of the character. Her reaction made me rethink my original notion. She cried and asked not to be shown the picture of the creature.
Now, I know the story and prank are ridiculous. I know my daughter is not going to harm herself or others based on creepy photos and a computer voice over. There are articles written on the hoax and society's ignorance in believing them. That's not my concern.
My concern is the ability to hide inappropriate things in cartoons targeted at children. That's real. There are cartoon characters doing inappropriate (Sexually) things in videos disguised to be familiar and harmless. This is predatory behavior.
I believe it's important to have a conversation with our children regarding unwanted materials and advances. Our children should feel comfortable and safe sharing scary stuff with us. They should understand they don't have to accept unwanted material that makes them feel uncomfortable. Those are situations they need to tell us (parents) about.
We put limits on what our children view and how often they view it. This "Momo" was a way to insert disturbing material where it didn't belong. The photo is terrifying. The material inappropriate. We used this as an opportunity to encourage our girls to share things they may see that makes them uncomfortable. Uncomfortable situations need to be talked about.
We can't control everything our girls are going to see. We can do our best to protect them, but it's also our job to cultivate a way to handle the unwanted, uncomfortable, and inappropriate. We draw boundaries in our lives, again it's important to teach our children how to do the same. This protects them and others.
My daughter asked me why all the scary stuff happens at night. It's because we're limited to what we can see. The unknown is terrifying to us. Our imagination creates scenarios and creatures where shadows conceal. We're afraid of the unknown. Once something is known, it can be dealt with. We can formulate a plan and understand it, but the unknown or mystery is terrifying. It's out of our control and it terrifies us.
Adults do this too. It's in our everyday life. When the lights are on, we're afraid of things we don't understand. We tend to demonize them. We create an "us" and "them" scenario. "We" are the good guys, "they" are the bad guys.
I was once terrified of the dark. I delivered milk to people's homes in the middle of the night. I was a Milk Man. I delivered in all parts of town, good or bad, it didn't matter. I ran from my truck in the pitch of night with only a head lamp illuminating my path. I would look back from the front porch of a house to see the warm glow of the cab lights. For some reason I felt safe in the cab of the truck, but exposed in the pitch black.
It took a lot of courage those first couple times alone, after I was trained. I remember standing at the edge of darkness staring into the quiet. I wondered what wild animal waited to devour me. Don't laugh, I was in Colorado, Mountain Lions are real. I saw them, as well as bear. In remote areas I heard coyotes call to one another. In the urban areas peopled walked the streets all night. The hour between 3 and 4 a.m. was the quietest.
I had to give up control. I had to have the courage take things as they came. If I focused on the "what ifs" I would never have left the safety of the truck. I decided to take the challenges as they came in the night. I had never seen my surroundings in the daylight, but I knew it wasn't as scary as I imagined.
Over time, the dark became a comfort. It was beautiful, shrouding the ugly in darkness. Porch lights were warm friends, centennials standing guard against the dark. The unknown became adventure, not fear. My fear was channeled into expectation, excitement. No two nights were the same.
Isaiah 43:1 “Don't fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”
Danger is real. Fear does not help us handle danger. Hysteria is fear's whip driving us into madness.
Psalm 118:6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Danger is real, we must learn our boundaries to keep away from danger, but not out of fear. No, we learn and grow because we understand. We don't react out of fear. We courageously walk into the darkness giving control to God. We act out of a place of understanding.
We act in love, do good, pursue peace, give mercy, and uphold justice. We are fearless.
We learn to be on our guard because others will test our boundaries.
May you take the frightening and give your children tools to battle uncertainty
May you find the blessings in the darkness.
May you find the porch lights and safe harbors to restore your soul
May you take the scary stuff and illuminate it in the light of understanding.
In His service and yours,