There aren’t sufficient words for anyone to express their feelings over what happened yesterday. The interesting thing is that we always feel it’s necessary to talk anyway. It’s like we’re processing out loud, trying to make sense, trying to get answers for our questions. And yet I always find myself with slightly different questions than I see and hear in most places. Why does yesterday horrify us so when daily there are children living through nightmares as bad and worse? Why do we only get so upset when it gets a little closer to home and it’s “our” kids? “Our” kids who “should” be safe. Shouldn’t they all? Just like you, I wrestle with all of these. With pain and sin and suffering everywhere. Oh God, we are so broken.
Although I grieve with everyone else and am aware of general information about the situation, I have not once turned on my TV or radio. I refuse to be a part of what the media does in these situations. I will not watch one microphone shoved in the face of a grieving family, of a traumatized child, of a broken teacher. Hey reporter, I don’t need to know how they feel. I can take a wild guess. I don’t need details. DEAR GOD, why do we need details?! What is wrong with us?! If I lost someone I loved, I would be allowed to grieve in quiet, in dignity, in respectful mourning. But no, we can’t give them that. We deserve to know and they need to tell us. We’re like parasites feeding on their tragedy.
I’m sure you will have figured out by now that my kids have not been told what happened. A Facebook friend, Sam Jeffrey, posted a story Corrie Ten Boom told about her father. It describes perfectly my feelings about exposing kids to details about events like yesterday’s.
And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sex sin?” He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but, to my surprise, he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. “Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he asked. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. “It’s too heavy,” I said. “Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
God forgive us that we ask children to carry loads before they are able to bear them. Those children yesterday didn’t have a choice. They had to face something unthinkable because an adult made that choice for them. Carefully chosen words can be one thing according to the wisdom God gives us as a parent, but media images, their young minds can’t turn those off. Can’t choose to undo that. Can’t choose to unsee what we as adults set before them. Let’s not make sure hundreds of thousands more children experience pieces of the same horror. If I were to choose to tell my children anything, it would be stories of how there were some super hero teachers yesterday who went from being normal Mrs. X in the classroom to being warriors and rescuers. Do I need details to know that? Nope. I know lots of teachers and know exactly what they would do in those situations. They would be fierce and courageous. They have to do that every day. Anyone who respectfully and wholeheartedly takes the well-being of children on as a daily task is a hero. And way too often it goes unnoticed what a massive responsibility it is.
God forgive us that in the name of information we exploit hurting families and children in their grief. Somehow help us to stop. Deliver us from this insatiable need to view tragedy firsthand and help us instead to turn our eyes on the hurting before they hit the mainstream news.
God forgive us that we didn’t give that individual a bigger purpose to be a part of. A way that he could have impact. That he could feel like one of the warriors bringing about change as a created and designed individual. Maybe then he wouldn’t have needed to create a space for himself through destruction. Forgive us that he has seen our responses in similar situations and knew that yesterday we would be glued to the news saying his name over and over as he finally made a little space for himself in the cacophony of life that had drowned out his suffering.
God forgive us that it takes an event like yesterday to teach us respect for other human beings, for fellow students, for our teachers. Whether giving a giant piece of their lives yesterday or giving smaller pieces of it every day, the people investing in us deserve our love, gratitude and respect. They deserve for us to teach our children to honor them in their words and attitudes by modeling it with our own mouths and actions.
God forgive us that we need such horrible reminders to hold on to moments as precious. Why is it so hard to keep our priorities straight? Why is it so easy for me to become distracted, overwhelmed, tired, weary. Because my eyes are in the wrong place. More and more lately my heart has been turned to one plea. Because I know if I can do this one thing, all else will fall into place. I will see the needs of the hurting before they are unreachable. I will see the value of others before they are gone. I will see the daily as miraculous, the eternal as the important, and the unthinkable as temporary.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!