To the Powers that Be:
As we sat around the Christmas tree that evening, grandma asked if we would each share something we were grateful for in 2012 and something we were looking forward to in 2013.
When it came time for my son to share his gratitude for the past and hope for the future, I couldn’t believe my ears. This 10-year-old son of mine? What was he grateful for? What hope did he have for the new year?
He shared with all sincerity, all seriousness…he was glad he was alive in 2012, and hopes he stays alive in 2013.
This certainly wasn’t the response grandma planned when she dreamed up this hope-filled family activity around the tree.
Mama to this 10-year-old boy, I calmly reassured him “You don’t need to worry about that,” as if he shouldn’t be worried about such a thing. But he responded again with all seriousness, “Well, it could happen.” There was something real in his voice, something that told me he wasn’t kidding, that he knows full well the realities of this world.
I had nothing else to say, no other words seemed fitting in that moment. What is a mama to say when her 10-year-old says around the Christmas tree that he’s glad to be alive and that he hopes he’s going to be alive next year? For there is always a possibility any one of us might pass to a better place this year.
It had been just 9 days since the Sandy Hook incident in Connecticut. He had heard, but we hadn’t dwelled. The pictures and stories were pouring in, and I’m sure there was discussion among children at school. We had even gotten a call from the school principal indicating our daughter had been sent down because she was feeling anxious about being safe in school. But him? This boy who rarely shares detail and emotes very little from the depths of his soul? Prior to the incident around the tree, he gave us no indication he was scared for his life.
This has haunted my soul for more than a month. To think my 10-year-old lives in a world where he has to fear for his life! To think he is so worried, so concerned for the existence of his life that it’s the first thing that comes to his mind in an innocent moment of gratitude and hope around the Christmas tree! To think a 7-year-old has to be sent to the principal’s office because she’s anxious about being at school because a gunman might enter at any moment and start shooting it up! To think this same girl has expressed fear about sitting in a movie theater because she’s scared somebody might sneak in “like they did at Batman” and start shooting everybody?!
May I ask, what has gone wrong with our society?
May I ask, do we really want 7-year-olds and 10-year-olds to be scared for their lives? In the United States of America?!
May I ask, where are our priorities?
May I ask, do we really realize the severity, the depth of this problem?
May I ask, who do we blame?
May I ask, what do we blame?
May I ask, where does all of this evil originate anyway?
May I ask, how am I supposed to combat my son’s fear of life and death when he’s still trying to solve math problems and spell and write a story that makes sense?
May I ask, why in the world should my children have to worry about the possibility of being shot to death when they go to school or a movie?
May I suggest that this is a battle between good and evil?
May I suggest we must take a much harder stance than we ever have to fight this battle in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our cities and states and in our nation? For that matter, around the globe?
May I suggest that we need to stop politicizing issues of life and death and get down to business of determining a better course of action? A more noble course of action?
May I suggest that we need to gather around moms and dads as they raise little ones?
May I suggest that we need to get out of our little bubbles of isolation and be in community so we’re raising a generation that values life?
May I suggest that our hearts are sick?
May I suggest we develop more empathy, more heart towards one another?
May I suggest that we start addressing and treating mental illness for what it is rather than shunning or ignoring or writing them off as so called “cray cray?” for someone else to handle?
May I suggest that seriously evil individuals will continue to be ruthless in achieving their objectives?
May I suggest that this nation has experienced so much fortune that some of us have become blind to reality?
May I suggest that the solutions do not lie solely in gun control legislation and mental health reform, but in getting on our knees in prayer for this nation, for our government, for our states and cities and neighborhoods, for families and children?
People, we are in a battle.
And as a mama, the only answer that seems clear is that I need to be bold and courageous about my work as a mama. I need to love. I need to support. I need to encourage. I need to pray and pray and pray for my children. I need to give them a firm foundation. I need to use words that will build up instead of tear down. I need to surround my children with people that will make them feel worthy. I need to do the hard work it takes to raise a citizen of character, of integrity, of goodness. A citizen that will not lose hope, a citizen that will not grow weary. A citizen that respects life and doesn’t take it for granted. A citizen that knows we are in battle, and it’s time to stand up and fight.
Fear not little boy, for I will do my best to provide these things for you. Fear not little boy, for if you let me show you and if you open your heart, you will see there is a God who is much greater than all our fears. A God who heals, a God who redeems, a God who restores, a God better and bigger than all this. For you can put your fear in His hands, and let it rest there, son.
And as a speech-language pathologist, I have to say that perhaps Gabby Giffords, with a most emphatic voice, said it best this morning…
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mysteryof the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:10-20