Sometimes, there are just no words.
Yet, it seems everyone has something to say about the tragedy that occurred yesterday. While most of us weep for the families of those who were killed, while all of us hold our babies a little tighter and rush home a little faster to see them safe and sound, some of us are using what can only be called a massacre of children as a platform to defend our own stances on guns, gun rights, gun control, and separation of church and state. I see pictures posted all over facebook of things that make me shake my head and wonder why we can't just spend five minutes loving on these families instead of turning our noses up and essentially touting a big fat "I told you so" to the world. Whether they believe guns should be outlawed or our kindergarten teachers should carry around semi-automatic rifles during recess...the sentiment is the same. "If things were the way I wanted them to be, this never would have happened."
I'm sorry, but can we just for a few moments put aside our own agendas and grieve with these families? Could we maybe use this as an opportunity to show the world God's love and mercy and hope instead of using it as an opportunity to bombard them with heartless and insensitive remarks and pictures? How about instead of posting that quote about your right to own a gun you maybe post some of God's words of encouragement from Psalms or Corinthians? How about instead of going on a three paragraph rant on how if we had stricter gun laws those children might be alive today you maybe stop for a second and remember that they are not. No amount of facebook ranting will bring them back. But maybe some encouragement would do someone a bit of good.
Yes, everyone has an opinion. Yes, everyone has a right to it. And being that we live in America, I am sure the topic will be debated publicly and voted on and everyone will get a chance to be heard. But for goodness' sake, these babies have not even been buried by their families yet. Is now, right this second, really the time to start such heated and angry debates? People's hearts are so very, very raw right now. Emotions are running higher than ever. Just ask yourself, "Who am I benefiting by saying this? By posting this? Is it those around me, or is it just me? How would I feel if the mommy of one of those small children who were gunned down read what I am posting right now? Would I want her to see this today?"
I could get into a heated debate right here on this blog about which side of the fence I am on, but to be perfectly honest, I just don't know. I have moments where I want to strip every single American of their gun and blow them up in a giant atomic bomb so that I never again have to worry about my baby being shot dead during circle time. I also have moments where I want armed soldiers guarding their school parking lot so that they can shoot evil men like this on sight before they ever have a chance to touch my baby. I have no idea where I stand on the issue, when it comes right down to it. I just want my babies to be safe. I don't know where I stand. I just don't know. This is what I do know...
I have two children that are the exact age of those who were murdered yesterday. My children are also in the first grade. I dropped them off yesterday morning with a quick kiss, a "Have a good day" and "I'll see you tonight." So did those parents.
I went to work, fully trusting that my children were safe in the care of their teacher. So did those parents.
I went home after work and hugged my babies and tucked them in.
Those parents will never, ever do that again.
Jake and Eisley have a Christmas program coming up next week. So did the children who died. As the room mom at their school, the teacher and I have begun planning for their Christmas party next week. What kinds of things were planned for the class party of those children? Had they already made ornaments as a surprise for their parents, as mine have? Had they been practicing their parts in the Christmas play for weeks, singing their songs loudly in the car on the way to school, as my children do?
What have they left behind for their families? Messy rooms and crayons strewn all over the house. Clothes that needed washing and juice boxes that didn't get thrown away the day before. Unwrapped Christmas presents hidden in the closet of their parents' bedroom. Wrapped presents under the tree that will never be opened. Disney princess cereal bowls sitting in the sink from breakfast. An elf on the shelf doing something silly that made them laugh that morning. Action figures and legos stuck in crevices of their mom's minivan. Christmas advent calendars stuck on December 14th that are a piercing reminder that time has stood still in their homes. DVRs filled with Christmas movies and reruns of iCarly and Ninja Turtles. Refrigerators covered in artwork and alphabet magnets.
This is what would be left for me, if it was my children who didn't come home yesterday. It is impossible for those thoughts not to absolutely tear my heart to pieces. Those poor mommies. Those daddies who feel it is their job to protect their children...my heart aches for them.
What about the adult victims? I couldn't help but think about all of my close friends who are teachers in public schools, in their late twenties, just as most of those adults were. I thought about what it would be like to learn that one of them had been killed, that they had been gunned down along with their students in the very place they use their gifts to care for and educate the children they love. At a time in their lives when they would be getting married and thinking of starting families of their own. In a place they worked so hard to get to and took such pride in what they did.
We live in such a broken, broken world. If you are reading this blog at all you know my personal beliefs, you know that I am a Christian and you know the general stance I take on most topics, even if you don't agree with me. I'm sure you could venture to guess which side of the gun debate I'm on (though you'd all be mostly wrong, as again, I just don't know). You can predict that I will end this blog with a verse and give a message about trusting the Lord in the midst of deep tragedy. I posted only a week ago about the heartbreak of burying children and how incredibly hard it is to find purpose in their sudden deaths. I could go on and on about the whole thing and give you my personal opinion on each and every reason I think this happened and how it could be prevented in the future and how these parents could ever possibly find a way to get up in the morning...but that isn't the point, and this isn't the time.
Right now I am talking to Christians...those who share in my beliefs and claim the Lord as their own Savior as I do...an incredibly evil and wicked thing happened yesterday. Lives were shattered, destroyed, changed forever. It is so raw, so new, we are only beginning to process our grief. Those families will be doing so for the rest of their lives. Could we, please, show them the love of our Lord during this time? Could we show it to those around us who are utterly confused and angry over what happened? Could we remember that there are so many people watching us, watching how we react to "our God" allowing such evil to occur? Could we remember that it is not our calling to shout "I told you so!" from the rooftops of America and blame the fact that "God was kicked out of schools long ago" for the evil actions of one man? Could we put aside our opinions on guns and focus on the real issue here, and if you are a Christian you cannot tell me it is guns. It is the brokenness of our world and the hope Christ offers if we trust in Him. Could we use this tragedy as an opportunity to share the Good News of the gospel, to share the hope that comes in Christ, to tell of how these things break the very heart of our God and He weeps right along with us? Could we please put down our own agendas and egos and political stances and remember the individuals who are crying themselves to sleep tonight? Could we save the debates for a day when emotions are not running positively sky high over a heartbreaking tragedy? Could we honor the memory of those sweet children and the adults that loved them by joining together to comfort and help one another?
Could we act as if the parents of those babies can read what we are saying, can hear the conversations we are having?
I'm still processing all of this myself. I am having a hard time, as most mothers of first graders seem to be having right now. There have been other shootings, other school shootings, where I have been incredibly saddened, but not affected as I am by this one. I know it is because my children are the same age as those children were. As mothers, we can't help but put ourselves in the shoes of those mothers, because it so easily could have been our little ones. We can't help but imagine the fear of our own children, had a scary man walked into their class and began shooting their friends one by one. We can't help but lose it in the car, weeping over the fact that those mothers will never get those images out of their heads, that they will have a gaping hole in their hearts til the day they die. And maybe because we can't help it, we simply have no patience for those who seem to be so quick to use this as an opportunity to spout their own opinions instead of an opportunity to love and comfort those around us. I cannot relate to those who are not brought to tears over this, but instead find it appropriate to post political cartoons and pictures of weapons with a message about the love of or hatred of guns all over their facebook page. It annoyed me a week ago. It angers me today. Today is not the day for these talks, these debates, these opinions, these heated arguments. Today is a day for grieving, for comforting, for mourning, for offering hope to the hopeless.
I don't know, if Jesus were to live in today's world, if He would carry a glock on Him at all times or preach the benefits of stricter gun laws. I do know this...He would weep with those families, and He would offer the assurance of hope in His Father, and He would do it humbly.
It would be nice if, as Christians, we did the same.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.