Fear and Hope In the Wake of Sandy Hook

My Kindergartner

You may think I’m being naive. You may think I’m cold and heartless. That’s your prerogative.

This morning my Facebook is filled with moms and dads expressing having a hard time sending their kids off to school today. Some of these parents are obviously more fearful and anxious about the safety of their kids that usual. I guess some just want extra time to love and cherish their little ones.

After what happened on Friday I can understand wanting to cherish that time a little more. We parents relate to the parents in Newtown because we have kids the same age who are in school and we can instantly imagine the intense fear and anguish those parents must feel. It hurts our hearts badly. It hurt mine deeply too.

But I was happy to walk my kids to school today and send them off for a fun week of learning before Christmas break. They were looking forward to it and that only makes me smile. Is that weird? Heartless?

Sometimes we become wrapped up in our own lives and we forget how short life is, that it is a fragile gift. An event like this may shock and scare us because we don’t want to believe that we live in a broken world full of evil.

But this tragedy did not shock or scare me. No, I can’t comprehend how someone could shoot a baby, let alone an adult, but unfortunately I’m very conscious of how broken our world is and how full of sin and evil it is. People do heinous things every day. People cut short the lives of unborn babies every day. ¬†Every day tens of thousands of six and seven year olds die of starvation or preventable disease and we choose to look the other way instead of grieving them. They aren’t our kids.

Maybe you think I’m obsessed with death or overly morbid. I like to think of myself as a realist. When my dad died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 49 I was thrust into the reality that no one is promised a tomorrow. We aren’t promised that we won’t bury our children. It hurts and it sucks but it’s truth.

So instead of living scared of what the future may bring, I put my security in the Creator of the universe who I believe continues to hold everything in His hand. I have this intense hope that He is actively redeeming and restoring this broken world. I know how the story ends, and He wins. Evil gets defeated. I choose to cherish every day and live it to the fullest, without fear or anxiety.

I helped teach science last week. Love our school! 

Yes, this horrible event reminded me that life is a gift and our kids are precious and should be cherished. I hugged tighter and looked at them with new eyes this weekend. But I sent them off to school this morning without any fear or hesitation. Logically they aren’t any less safe than they were last week. I see no reason for increased police presence at schools today and I hope there isn’t any at mine, because I think it will cause kids unnecessary concern. Our school’s security system is enough for me, and I just don’t feel like we need more. Random crazy people are going to do crazy things sometimes and while some precautions are good, we can’t protect even ourselves from everything.

I want my kids to feel safe and I think the best way to do that is to not be anxious myself. We have chosen to keep the TV off all weekend and not bring it up with our kids because they are still very young. I always keep an open dialogue with my eight year old and have encouraged him to come ask me questions he might have about things his friends say in school. So I’ll be listening closely and probing a bit this afternoon.

But I’m super grateful that our school district sent an email detailing how they are addressing the tragedy in schools, specifically saying that they will not bring it up at the elementary level. If a child brings it up, teachers are to listen carefully and might direct the child to the school counselor. I like that plan. I’m also grateful for an awesome document our district sent us written by a crisis management organization that details how to talk to our kids about the shooting.

I feel for the teachers who may be anxious today, and I’m praying for them. I’m also praying for my friends who are anxious today about sending their kids to school. But most of all I’m praying for the parents and families of Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart is broken for them.

Living Without Answers

Sometimes in life we end up in a place where we have more questions than answers. I’m one that has a super strong desire for answers, for facts and absolute truths and reasons for things. It’s a big part of why I’m a scientist.

I ask a lot of questions, not always out loud but constantly to myself. I read a ton and research to find solutions for problems and discover new information. One of my strengths is building and maintaining a large network of people with varied interests and experience so that I always know who to ask when I need an answer.

But right now I have a lot of “why” type questions that really don’t have answers. I know God knows the answers, but he isn’t telling me.

Why hasn’t IBESR (Haitian social services) issued their list of approved adoption agencies yet? Why are they holding up the process right now?

Why doesn’t my grandfather simply tell my grandmother they are moving to an apartment because it’s the best option and that’s that? Where did his backbone disappear to?

Why does my IT band hurt when I run despite weeks of rest, massage, tape, stretching and ice? Why can’t I just run ten miles like I used to?

Why is my church struggling so much right now? What is God trying to teach us through that?

Why did we ever teach my kids the myth of Santa? I’m at the point that I wish we hadn’t.

Ok I know the answer to that last one, I’m just not sure what to do about it at this point. I’m looking for more ways to capture my kids’ hearts and point them to Jesus.

Over the past few years I have become more comfortable with mystery and uncertainty, especially as it applies to God and His Creation. I have worked really hard to shed my Miss Know-It-All tendencies.

But today I feel like a three year old who asks their parent “Why?” every five minutes. Remember that phase? That’s me, asking my Dad “Why?”