With the horrifying tragedy that took place on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Florida, there are opinions and questions galore surrounding the events of that day. The go-to topics typically include gun control, Christian ethics in schools, and mental illness.
What I am not hearing much about is how to comfort those who mourn, how to be present to pain in others, how to speak to children in their fear. I cannot imagine the pain of parents in Parkland or the fear of parents anywhere else in our country. Same goes for school teachers who bravely show up with hope each day. I can speak from the place of counselor who gets the privilege to meet with inspiring high school students regularly.
If it were possible for me to assure their safety in the seven days that pass between our appointments, I would. As far as it depends on me, I do. But coming to terms with the fact that my power is limited is truly a relief. As much as I believe any parent I know would readily exchange their own life for the lives of their children, I know their power is limited as well. The same goes for their beloved teachers and the brave first respondents. Not a one of us can assure the physical safety of a child at all times. Aside from the other end of the safety spectrum of locking children in a room away from society, there is no assurance of safety (and that definitely brings its own gamete of issues).
These events are fueled by hurt, hate and uncontrolled, all-consuming anger. So what can we do to keep children safe? The answer isn’t evacuation procedures or gun control or increasing mental health screenings. Those are great and needed things, but they aren’t the answer. Love is the answer. Jesus Christ is the only answer.
While we could try with all we have to keep children physically safe, we cannot. What we can do is show them our trust in the God who can hold all things together. We can model love as the only solution to protect them from hate. We can model this unwavering, unshakable, unconditional love as the only true remedy to fear. When we let fear and hate grab the ankles of our children we will see them falling into hurt.
We can be the safe places they need to express anger, fear or hurt and in so doing, create safety through a patient, listening ear. We can weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn before we offer up any opinions. If we skip that, we skip seeing the humanity in each of those suffering and turn them into examples for our arguments.
As far as having Christian morals in our schools, we are warned in scripture that the days are going to get increasingly more evil. Again, our answer is love in the face of hate and truth in the darkness always, but not because it is moral, because it is Christ in us! Regardless of what school boards say, there is a good God in heaven who is Faithful and True. The world we live in is fallen, dark and filled with sorrow. Two thousand years ago there was a light that broke through a profound darkness. If the incarnation tells us anything, it’s that God can’t be kept out. The King of Kings needs no invitation from earthly empires to arrive. If you try to “systematically remove” the omnipresent, omnipotent God whom we serve, I know you will fail.
To create safe places we can remember we are called to live as light in this dark place called Earth. And as much as something like this makes me want to stay at home wrapped up in the love of my immediate family in a protective bubble, I know that the love of God is meant to go out into that world. He has overcome!
If you and/or your children have questions or are looking for support in light of these events, please do not hesitate to reach out for the supports in your area. Genesis Christian Counseling is here and ready to help!