When you don’t have the answers, but your mind is flooding with thoughts, the best thing to do is just write. That’s where I find myself today.
Yesterday marked the 8th school shooting since 2018 began – only 45 days ago. First thing’s first – I do not have all of the answers. I have thoughts… opinions… ideas… hopes… and of course, fears…
I dropped my 3 children off at school, kissed their little faces before they went in and prayed for their day, as I do every day. That sounded perfect, didn’t it? Ok so actually, the ride to elementary school this morning was filled with some yelling, as my little one was a bit peeved that I threw away the ‘Air Heads’ and ‘Fun Dip’ that he got yesterday during the Valentine exchange (that has now turned into another version of Halloween… but I digress). But hey, taffy is bad for your teeth and pure sugar is just evil and that’s just how I feel about those candies. So yes, our ride to elementary school at 7:15am contained some yelling, some frustration, and then some apologies, as I sat thinking about letting my kids out of the van without them knowing that I love them. Some kids yesterday maybe got out of their cars after arguing with their mom and didn’t hear those words before they entered the school – and the didn’t come out alive. SO…. Here we are. This is what we think of now when we drop our kids off at school. Do they know I love them in case they don’t make it home today?
This is not normal.
This is painful.
This is just nonsense, if you ask me. Maybe you aren’t asking me, and if so, you don’t have to read anything else. Because like I said, I do not have all of the answers. Just some thoughts.
Our view of the world comes from within the four walls of our home. The things we are taught begin with our parents and grandparents and from those teachings come the core of our being – our values, morals, character. Next, come our own life experiences. This is the window in which we see the world. With so many different ways of being taught and so many different life experiences, we all see things in a little bit of a different way. You know the funny thing is – if we are open to learning from others and understanding WHY they see things the way they do – even if we don’t quite see it the same way – we practice empathy and understanding. We grow this way. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, it’s rather difficult for our society to believe that someone else’s belief may be the right one. We are so driven by the need to be right that we are blinded to learning and to hearing. Do you feel it’s possible that two people can actually be right? That there could be a middle ground? That one person’s perspective could actually shift your own? We aren’t listening to one another. We’re just spouting. Sometimes we are spouting blame. And sometimes we are just spouting our stuff. But we are spouting and not listening – and that is Issue #1.
Next, we come to the sad state of mental health in our country, which honestly, I do not feel educated enough about to even begin a deep discussion – except to say – it is as real as high blood pressure or diabetes. I know it’s real because I live it. I know it’s real because I also have a child that lives it. I have other family members that live it. Likely, you probably do as well. Here’s what I see when it comes to conversations of mental health – fear and shame. Shame from others, stigma from the community, fear of being judged. All of it. Personally, I allowed my own fear of being judged to alter how I was treating my own mental illness. It took two doctors and a counselor to talk me out of the mindset that medication was the wrong path and a cop out. It took some therapy for me to get the voice out of my head that said, ‘people that take anti-depressants just can’t cope with motherhood.’ GARBAGE. But I bought into the lie and sacrificed my own quality of life and my family’s quality of life. I put that fear, or my own ego, before taking care of them. All this to say, if you have mental illness in your home, you are not alone. You shouldn’t ever feel alone. If you have a child suffering from it, even the mildest form of anxiety, it is as real as that broken bone they may have gotten last week. And it’s up to us, in the four walls of our homes, to take care of it, to take care of them. It is not shameful. In the instances of the millions out there that perhaps don’t have a safe four walls they call home, that don’t have a confidant, a mentor, a teacher to help them… It’s our duty to recognize these individuals and reach out. Show them love. Be a friend. We can’t stay silent.
Another topic I don’t know enough about to talk in an educated fashion is gun reform. Except to say that it is possible to believe in a right to bear arms and gun ownership and NOT believe that we should be able to access assault rifles. I know there’s big money and a lot of other stuff I don’t understand that is leading the lack of regulation. And we are all suffering because of it. It’s a middle road way of thinking and I don’t care, it’s just how I see it. At the highest levels of this country, people were elected to protect our citizens. They are paid to do this job. And with it, seems a huge responsibility. Please act on your responsibility, whoever you are out there that is not. This is not blame. I am not saying that this sole issue lies in lawmakers hands alone. But I am saying that they can choose to be part of a solution because they have a responsibility to be part of it. They represent us all.
Deep at the heart of all of this is the growing lack of faith in this country. I’ve read numerous articles about Christians leaving the faith in ‘DROVES’. It is my belief that without a relationship with Jesus, without following Him, we are becoming immune to love. Care for each other, for humanity, is dwindling. Truly knowing the call to love others as Jesus calls us to love would not result in these mass murders. It just wouldn’t. Andy Stanley says it best when he says, “Following Jesus will make your life better and make you better at life.” I believe that with all of my being.
Finally, we all have a voice. We all have a way to act and be heard. And for each of us, our way is different. But if you are one that is called to love others like Jesus did, let’s stop accepting this ‘problem’ and let’s focus on changing it. I’m not 100% sure how this looks for me personally, but I know that God wants to use my gifts to bring about change. As I pray for those, I ask you to do the same. How can He use you? It’s going to look different for us all. Acceptance of this way of life is not the answer, so let’s stop accepting it. This is not normal. WE are better than this.
Examine what’s in your heart. Examine what’s in your four walls. Look deeply at your people. Pray over them and pray WITH them. Teach them to be difference makers. Educate them on what this world looks like so they can be equipped to go out and make change themselves. Recognize when things just don’t seem right and have the courage as a parent to step in the direction of help. You are not powerless. You mothers, you fathers, you sisters, you brothers. YOU are not powerless. And you are certainly not alone, regardless of how you may feel.
Let’s also realize that prayer is powerful. The privilege of prayer is amazing. God wants to hear your prayers. God also wants you to act in love. To believe in Jesus is to believe in that call. We are really really good at saying the words, but not following through on the action.
The child out there sitting alone, needs love, not shame. The kids that cheat, they need love, not shame. The kids that lie, they need love, not shame. The kids that steal, they need love, not shame. The kids that have mental illness, they need love, not shame.
Oh how I wish we could snap our fingers and change our world. Lord, can you please make all of this pain and suffering go away? I believe the tears of Jesus are real today. He told us –
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We live in a broken world. We have never been promised perfection. We have never been promised fairness. But we have been given hope. So that is where I’ll rest today. The Air Heads and the Fun Dip are still staying in the garbage, but my boys just walked in safely from the bus stop, and gave me a kiss, so I’ll say ‘Thank you’ for this day.