In 17 words, Beth Moore’s tweet said it all.
The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkman, Florida, was a story that hit close to home. Like mothers across the nation, I cried and cried reading about the victims because the teenagers remind me of my teenagers and the teachers remind me of our teachers. I can insert myself into this story so easily it scares me, and what terrifies me is knowing this isn’t a one-time incident. This is a reality of the world we’re raising kids in. It’s a world where hate, anger, evil, and violence have reached epic proportions, and despite the many brave souls who stepped forward, it took only 1 armed madman to carry out every parent’s nightmare.
This tragedy demands action and change. Thoughts and prayers alone won’t cut it, not when venues like schools, concerts, and movie theaters are no longer safe. The fact that a 19-year-old boy (mental illness or not) can walk into a shop and buy a AR-15-style rifle is insane. Just as the FBI admitted failure in not investigating a January tip about Nikolas Cruz, the NRA and lawmakers need to admit that gun control in an increasingly violent society warrants a new conversation, and we need new laws and restrictions to keep children and adults safe.
At the same time, this issue is bigger than gun safety. This shooting represents a perfect storm of issues in our current society, like moral decay, disregard for human life, mental illness, an obsession with violence, poor parenting, the breakdown of homes and families, bullying, loneliness, and disconnect. We’ve lost our values and love for others – and it’s caused us to lose our way.
People like Nikolas Cruz don’t wake up one day and become murderers. There is a buildup – years of pain, isolation, resentment – that leads to the horror. If you visit an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school, you’ll notice how the outcasts and loners grow more obvious with time. By high school, they seem settled into the role. They don’t try to fit in anymore. They carry themselves differently, walking with their head down, sitting away from people, detaching and acting like they don’t care.
That’s why this 5th grade teacher is onto something. After Columbine, she started to quietly identify the kids in her class who are lonely, bullied, or falling through the cracks. She pays them special attention and teaches them how to connect. By helping them form social skills in the early years, before they’re deep into their identity, she’s helping prevent future violence in the later years. As this chilling video from Sandy Hook Promise shows, school shooters are usually those who are disengaged and disregarded by peers.
So how do parents respond? How do we raise kids in a world full of breathtaking good and heartbreaking evil? I know God will ultimately win this earthly battle of good versus evil, and I cling to His promise of eternal life through Christ, but what about the meantime? How do we cope and not lose hope in the midst of suffering and despair?
We live in a strange era of parenting, and the conversations I must have with my kids these days feel so dichotomous and contradictory at times I wonder if they think I’m crazy.
One day I’m telling them to be kind and loving to all…the next day I’m telling them to trust their instincts and distance themselves when a person gives them a funny vibe.
One day I’m telling them to give people the benefit of the doubt….the next day I’m telling them to pay close attention to red flags because some people can’t be trusted.
One day I’m telling them to respect authority…the next day I’m warning them of adults who abuse their authority, like the Olympic doctor who molested 150 girls and women, often so steathfully even their mothers in the exam room didn’t notice.
One day I’m sharing inspirational stories…the next day I’m sharing stories about an active shooter and how to respond in that situation.
Bottom line is, our world isn’t black-and-white. People are complicated, and now, more than ever, we need gifts like wisdom and discernment from God. We need to be kind and smart. Gentle and shrewd. Soft and strong. Accepting and aware.
There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing today, but I still believe most people are good. I believe for every 1 murderer, there are 10,000 heroes. As I prepare my kids for the sad realities of our world, I pray their eyes stay fixed on God’s ultimate dominion and goodness. I pray they remember our goal of heaven, and how this earth is a temporary home. I pray they see God’s light in the darkness and become the light their generation needs.
Tragedies like Florida remind us how none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. What starts as a normal day could take an unexpected evil turn we aren’t equipped to fight. As disheartening as this is, it’s also motivation to live a life of no regrets. To treat each day like our final day on earth and let go of the grudges, resentments, and petty fights that breed division and make us withhold love.
In the end, we’ll all be remembered by how well we loved. Whether we let the light of Christ or the darkness of the enemy enter our heart and influence our direction. Even in angry times, we can choose light. We can remember that just one candle can light a thousand others. Choosing light may not solve world problems, but it will keep our heart turned toward God and the truths that last forever. It will compel us to move in the right direction, creating a better world for our children where people remember how to love.
Thank you for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Finally, I have an event in Demopolis, Alabama, on Sunday, March 4 that is open to the public. Women and girls 5th grade and up are invited to join us at FUMC Demopolis to hear an encouraging word for today’s girls. My talk starts at 6 p.m. and is titled “Dear Girls: You Are Stronger Than You Think.” The contact is Jennifer Jordan.
Posted by Kari on February 19, 2018