My daughter left this morning talking about tomorrow’s party. It is Christmas after all.
She labored over what to wear, wanting to look Christmas-y, but not finding anything to fit the bill. We talked about her earrings, wondering which would be better – reindeer or snowmen. I brushed her long brown hair, careful to avoid the tangles and noticed how it shined.
I helped tie her shoes and reminded her to wear her jacket. We had waffles for breakfast, and I packed a pretzel and cracker mix for her snack. I drive her to the bus stop every morning, mainly so I can go in pajamas.
I put her on the school bus and waved at her sweet face in the window as it pulled away.
In light of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary, each day now is impressed in my memory, every detail etched with care.
I can NOT fathom what the parents there are going through. All I can think of is how 20 mothers zipped up 20 jackets for the very last time on Friday.
Reading the events of the day chill my blood. I am a former teacher. I’ve been in a school on lock down. I’ve closed my curtains, discreetly locked my door, and pulled the kids to a corner of the classroom away from the door and window to read a story. Thankfully for me, there was no shooter, only an unidentified man in the building.
The nation is reeling from the cruelty of it all. People are fighting over guns and slinging mud over issues in total disregard of the broken parents who walked past empty beds all weekend.
So where do we go from here?
We can’t allow something like this to happen and remain unchanged.
How can I change from this, you ask? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Slow down
Don’t get so busy living you forget to enjoy life. Take the time to paint little fingernails. Read stories at bedtime. Play a video game or a round of Chutes and Ladders with your little ones. Kiss your spouse a little longer. Order dessert – first! (Just every once in a while.) Stay up later just to snuggle.
Tell the people in your life how you feel about them. Then take it one step further and show them.
2. Recognize and honor your child’s teachers
I’ve been a teacher and it’s not an easy job. And the pay stinks. Teachers are subjected to every kind of germ possible on any given day. They are expected to learn each of our children’s learning styles and teach to it. We want them to remember all 24 kids afternoon transportation routines and make sure all test scores are in the on-line grading system within hours of test. We expect them to be super-human.
That being said, why would anyone want to be a teacher? Because they love children. They love your children. Wasn’t that obvious when first grade teacher, Victoria Soto, from Sandy Hook Elementary was found over the bodies of her children as she tried to protect them?
So, write your children’s teacher a thank-you note. Buy her a thoughtful Christmas gift. Stop by every once in a while just to ask how she is doing. Send chocolate – lots of chocolate. And next time you feel super frustrated, give her grace.
It’s easy to want to hate the person responsible for this shooting. While I hate what he did, I must remember I shouldn’t hate the person. Hate only hurts me. I don’t understand the circumstances of this young man’s life to make him do such a thing, but it saddens me. Was he not shown love at home? Did he truly suffer from a mental illness? Only God knows for sure, but we have to forgive him if we ever expect God to forgive us of anything.
There is freedom in forgiveness. Perhaps there is someone else you need to forgive. Today is a great day to do it.
4. Reach out
Offer a hand to the people around you. No matter the reason for this shooting, the shooter was hurting. There are so many people around us every day who are slowly dying on the inside. Take time to notice those people and don’t be afraid to offer aid.
That’s what being a Christian is really about. It’s not about following a set of rules or wearing witness tees. It’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Leave an uplifting note on the mirror in a public bathroom. Pay for the person behind you in line at the drive-thru. Smile at someone who is having a bad day. Drop off food at your local food bank and ask if they need help. Donate to help free women and children from slavery. Buy some chickens for family in poverty.
You see, friends, satan wants to use these events to tear us down and tell us there is no hope. But we have hope in Jesus. And although horrific, events like this can make us stronger. But only if we let them.
The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:11 NIV