My hands are literally shaking as I type. My heart is broken, and I can not stop thinking of Friday's tragedy. I feel I am in the depths of "mourning with those that mourn". I feel helpless...I want to take their pain because I think I am strong enough to handle it. But, of course, no human is strong enough to bear these burdens alone. I know our loving Savior is lifting every person affected from the depths of their despair and sorrow. I believe we can rejoice in knowing that those who lost their lives are peacefully wrapped in the loving arms of our Father in Heaven.
I'm not opening up comments on this post. Cowardly of me? Probably. I just don't have it in me right now. I don't want a debate. I don't want the anxiety of worrying if this post makes someone angry. I'm feeling vulnerable and it is taking all I have within me to even write this. So why write if I can't take the heat that could most certainly come from this post? I'll answer that question shortly.
Someone asked how I'm handling things. This recent horror has touched us all, whether directly or indirectly. I told this dear friend of mine, "I'm handling things like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum." There are things I want, and can't have...a promise that my children will always be safe. A promise that I will never have to bury another of my children. A promise that my teacher friends will never be in harm's way. I feel I have no control over anything, and that makes me angry. There are thoughts I need to share, but can't find the words. I'm tired. I'm scared. And, if you add all of that together it equals me wanting to kick and scream and cry. I want my mom to hug me, tell me she loves me, and then send me to my room for a much needed time out....but alas, I am not a two year old. There is life to live, service to be given, and light to share so as to outshine the darkness of our world.
I did it. This morning, I dropped off my elementary school babes and a precious neighbor child who I love with all my heart. I did it with a giant smile. I did it with an enthusiastic, "I love you three noodles to the moon and back, and don't you forget it!" And as I pulled away, the tears streamed. I thought of all the suffering parents, who will never again have that gift. I also thought of every other parent out there who does have that gift this morning. I wanted to shout, "We did it! With this simple act of dropping our children off this morning, we are shining our lights. We are battling evil and darkness. We are showing that we will not retreat."
Last night I was reminded of an old Cherokee legend.
There are other versions, "Grandfather Tells" and "The Wolves Within".
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. He said to the boy: "A fight is going on inside of me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one I feed."
This story struck a chord within me, as I believe it to be absolutely fitting for where I find myself today. In attempting to process the recent tragedy in Newtown, as well as so many other horrific things going on in our world, I find "the wolves within" doing battle. For every negative thought I have, I am desperately trying to have more thoughts of good. It would be naive to think that only positive, good thoughts will fill our minds as we process recent events. For me to combat the darkness and negativity in the world, I have to face it. I have to stare it down; otherwise, it will simply be pushed away...which is a far cry from fighting it.
Through this processing, I have many questions and thoughts. Understandably there are people who will emphatically disagree, and even become angry with me over my opinions. I pray that as our country moves forward, we can have civil discussions. I pray that, especially in disagreement, we can listen to one another. All of that said, I will remind you of what I wrote earlier: I'm not opening up comments on this post. Cowardly of me? Probably. I just don't have it in me right now. I don't want a debate. I don't want the anxiety of worrying if this post makes someone angry. I'm feeling vulnerable and it is taking all I have within to even write this. So why write if I can't take the heat that could most certainly come from this post? One word: selfishness. (I told you I'm behaving like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.)
I work through things and find healing through writing. Because I can't sit with many of those I hold closest in my heart and talk through all of this, I come to this spot and write. I'm going to share some thoughts and questions that are filling my mind, with the hope of freeing myself from how they are consuming me. Maybe you will agree, maybe you will disagree, maybe you will do both. I would venture to say that wherever you stand, some of this has possibly crossed your mind as well. These thoughts and questions are unorganized and, quite frankly, a jumbled mess....
Why do we not address mental health issues more effectively in this country? Why can't people get their family members the help they so desperately need? If the mother of the shooter knew her son had mental health issues, why was he exposed to so many weapons? Maybe she had her own share of mental health issues? Or was she completely clueless as to the torment her son was feeling? How must she have felt if she did pursue help for her son, but couldn't get it. There is a beautiful piece of writing being shared on Facebook and through other outlets. It is one mother's heartfelt and gut-wrenching story. She needs help. She is doing everything in her power to help her son, to keep her family and others safe from harm. But, she is met with obstacles at every turn. I literally hit my knees after reading her story. I wept for her, and her son. I am in awe of her strength and courage. I want to find her and hug her. I want her child to be loved and helped. She is a soul I admire. But I couldn't bring myself to share her writing. Why? Because I am a terrible person sometimes. I read some of her other writings...I wish with all of my heart I hadn't. The mother says she "loves Che". While Che may have begun with decent intentions, many of his actions, and the way he carried things out, were far from decent. He was an extremist. Regardless of a person's view of Che, facts and history show he was often violent and cruel. I can't reconcile this in my mind enough to repost the mother's amazing writing. I know, I am terrible. I am trying, truly with no judgement, trying to understand how we can be mourning the loss of innocent lives, grasping for help, while following the teachings of perpetrators of violence. I don't see that extremist views are all that helpful in finding solutions, because the views only help those who completely agree with said extremist. I am fighting against the hate and loathing I feel towards Westboro Baptist Church. They sicken me. My heart hurts. My head hurts. I don't believe taking away everyone's guns will stop violence. If a human wants to take a life, that human will find a way...fertilizer, box cutters, guns, knives. Screaming about gun control, taking away the 2nd amendment and demonizing all who disagree doesn't solve anything. It doesn't solve the crisis we have in this country of not adequately addressing mental illness. It doesn't protect our children. It is simply a way to make yourself feel superior, as though you have all the answers. I do believe there are things we can do much better when it comes to guns. Banning them isn't doing things better...it is very much a common sense issue...do you really think the criminally insane follow laws? Or how about those suffering from sociopathic tendencies...do you really think they are stopping to contemplate laws? They will find a way to accomplish whatever it is they are planning. We have to help people before it gets to that point! My brother made one simple statement that sums it up, for me, very well: Why don't people storm into police stations shooting? Because they know everyone is armed, and they wouldn't make it very far before they would be taken down. Evil doers prey upon the weak and defenseless. We can't live by "what ifs", but what if there had been an armed law enforcement officer at that school, what if the principal had proper and effective gun training? I don't know the answers to "what if", but the questions still cross my mind. I don't want to hear a single politician, whose children and family are protected by armed Secret Service agents, tell me I don't need a gun for protection. If that is the case, I fully expect they give up their access to protection and bodyguards. This goes for celebrities as well! The children of politicians and celebrities are no more important than my children and yours. If there is no need for "average citizens" to have protection, then like I said, I fully expect politicians and celebrities to give up their Secret Service and bodyguards. This country needs a major overhaul, one that I don't believe can come without the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so sick of the political correctness, and our inability to call evil exactly what it is. We will never know what drove the shooter to commit his senseless, heinous acts. It is not my place to judge the souls of others. I won't do it; however, in an effort to keep my family and all those I love safe, I will absolutely judge the behaviors of others. Refusal to call those acts evil in no way changes the fact that they were evil! Terrorizing the innocent and murdering 27 people is evil. And if you can't recognize that, please just get out of the way...you are hindering my ability to fight darkness with light. To share light and good in this world, we must admit and recognize that there is also dark and evil.
As you can see, my mind is a cluttered mess right now. And my heart feels shattered. In the big scheme of things, I am no one. That feels terrible to me, so helpless to change things that must be changed. So for today, I will fight the darkness just by being someone to those in my little corner of the world. I will drop children off at school with a smile, I will be kinder and gentler to those I come in contact with, and I will not be afraid to step up and shine the light of Christ that is within me. I will do my part to feed the good wolf. Because I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, good will most certainly triumph in the end.