This can't be happening running through my mind, tears stinging the backs of my eyes while I fight to keep a calm demeanor for the students.Word finally comes that the threat is over. Hours later I would reunite with all 5 of my children and break down sobbing in the car once out of other student's views. The shooter a classmate of my daughter's. She watched him walk in to class next door and when she heard the shots ring out. Her first thoughts were concern for him in the hallway alone. She couldn't wrap her brain around that this nightmare would be at his hands. Her friend and teammate, Ella, shot 7 times. Mr. Seaman shot 3 as he tackled the student to the ground. We don't know what to do with so much pain so we just keep doing the next right thing. We talk. We pray. We laugh. We feel normal for a minute and then we are blindsided by the anger, the grief, the worry. We work fundraisers for Ella. We sign cards. We have so many questions. So many questions.
In the days since, I have continually heard the position that because prayer was taken from our schools, because God was taken out of our schools this happened. This is what I need you to know. I work in our schools. He is there. Everywhere I go, I take Him. Some days I do this better than others but He is with me all the same. I see Him daily in the students and in our staff. If God is not in our schools, it is because we don't bring Him with us. If he isn't at your job? Bring Him! We cannot legislate Jesus. He doesn't need our permissions. He's bigger than that. If we continue to lecture about the brokenness of the world and the lack of Jesus, what message does that send our children? Here is what I want my children and yours to know.
1.)We serve a living, breathing God. He is in us. He goes where we go. He was there on May 25th and He is with us now. He will be with us tomorrow. The ugliness of the world doesn't change that. Bad things will surely happen but His promise is that we will not be alone in it. Jesus was with Ella in her classroom as much as He was with the children who escaped from it. One isn't more blessed than the next. God didn't allow this happen to because we have turned from Him. One child made a horrific choice. Thousands of other people chose love. Be empowered, sweet strong children. God is all around us and in us and nothing and no one can do anything to take that truth away from us. Not a legislature or even a classmate wielding a gun.
2.)We are His plan. We are the helpers. We represent Jesus on the daily in the way we live our lives. We are how others come to know who He is. His love, poured out on others. People will either see Him because of us or they won't. If we want Jesus in our schools, we bring Him. If you don't see Jesus in your friendships, in your classroom, in your school...bring Him. We love big and we love wide. We accept and encourage and advocate for others. The teacher comforting you with their steady voice and pat on the shoulder...Jesus. The classmate squeezing your hand...Jesus. The police officer running in to protect you...Jesus. The volunteer passing out water as we finally exited the building...Jesus. The counselor offering to listen, yes, her too. Family picking up pizzas to bring for dinner, all Him. The strength carrying the Principals and Superintendent through the day. Jesus was all over our town that day. He is in the response from our community since. He is wherever you are. Alone. Surrounded with people. Scared or at peace. He is there. Our emotions may change, our situation may change, our feelings may change but God is the same always. He is bigger than we can imagine. He is in us and in our neighbors.
3.) He will walk with us in healing. Every. Step. Of the way. He will walk with Ella. In her physical scars and the ones not seen by the eye. He will comfort and be an encouragement for her family. He will walk with Mr. Seaman and his family. He will walk with our administrators and our community as we look for ways to unite in our love for our children and real work so this never happens again. He will be there in the night when you hear the sounds play over again in your head, when you remember running wondering if your sibling is one of the injured. With the parents when they hear a siren. With you in your fear, your insecurities, your faith filled carefree days. He abides in our hearts, resides in our hearts and will heal our hearts.
I am so sorry you were so frightened and had to endure this. I am so sorry Ella and Mr. Seaman were hurt. I am so sorry this child made this choice and forced this trauma upon us. I am so sorry I don't have all the answers. There are many things I don't understand but the one thing I know is that God was all around us that day and He will continue to be. Let's commit to take Him with us wherever we go. Let's love big and wide so that everyone can see.