Friday, May 18, 2018

What are "Thoughts and Prayers" In the Midst of Violence?

Here we are, again, giving “thoughts and prayers” in the face of another school shooting.

It is guaranteed that there will be argument over blame. Someone should have known. Concerns went unnoticed. This is a mental health issue, some will say. Others will speak of access to weapons. What is a legal and what is not. This is a rifle accessibility issue. Yet others will make this about respect for all life. If we really care about protecting life we ought to do more about  protecting heartbeat in the womb.

Adults will raise their political defenses, taking a dig at party divides. Some will even go so far as to criticize the children who share their experience, saying they are “too young” to understand.

Meanwhile, children & school workers who heard gun shots are still shaking. Parents who were planning for graduation attire are deciding what to bury their child in. A school and community are in mourning. Real people are grieving.

In my life, “thoughts and prayers” have always been important. I believe in a God who sees and must be weeping in the face of this senseless tragedy. I believe in a Lord who collects our tears (Psalm 56:8) and promises to help us through that which threatens to seize us (Isaiah 43:2). I am understood and strengthened through prayer, and I will always be grateful for family, friends, and the faith community for loving me through tough times with words uttered beyond ourselves to my bigger God.

But, if “thoughts and prayers” becomes nice lingo for doing nothing we’ve not loved those who need us well or honored our God  who wouldn’t want us to fake connection + gives us the power to help make a difference.

I’m not going to pretend like I have the answers here. Nor am I interested in political stance. Because I think we can care about mental health, and home stability, and safe gun laws, the born and unborn, and more. All of it. One doesn’t mutually exclude the other. And, with life as messy as it is, I suspect we need to care about the mix of it.

My prayer today is simply that we focus on faces before debate. That we quietly lean into the story and show compassion. That we give space for the grieving in Santa Fe to feel supported and do something that translates in our circles: Tell the people in our lives that we love them more often. Be intentional to thank our children’s teachers and school staff for all they do to help keep them safe. That we would genuinely care about the hearts of those who endured this kind of loss and use that awareness to explore how to enhance safety in facilities we use & vote in ways that make individual sense in the spirit of love rather than criticism. That relationship with others through Christ would be meaningful in somehow making this world better.

I’d just finished volunteering in my daughter’s classroom, where I was over the moon excited about a little boy’s progress with 10 frames, when I came home to this news. *tears* Yesterday I watched teachers at my daughter’s middle school play in a staff versus student volleyball game. Oh, how I long for the day when school is only a place of growth and celebration.

Praying with purpose, leading with love, and processing along with you,

Thank you, teachers & school staff, for meeting our students where they are at in interest and learning day in and day out. Your profession requires so much more in this changing world & it doesn’t go unnoticed.

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