I have been struggling with this blog in the wake of Friday's tragedy. I'm going to be honest and admit that I've felt stressed because I had planned to post an update on my weekend with my sister, my Christmas card photo, my Christmas house tour, and a sponsored review this week. The fact that I would even worry about that those things might fall off schedule is just further reminder of how selfish I can be and how small my little world is. I am ashamed that it takes something like what happened in Newtown last week to show me that it isn't all about me and my plans. Plans change.
I will re-adjust my schedule. I'll back-date my Christmas card post and publish my house tour a few days late. I can do that. But, there are 26 families that don't have the option to just "re-adjust" today. For those 26 families, nothing will ever be the same again. Their plans have been changed forever.
Today, I will remember. I will remember, and I will pray, and - in some small way - I will look for the good in the world.
Here's what's been on my mind the last few days, where my heart is right now:
After something as horrible and devastating as what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary last week, we want to point fingers. It is our human nature to ask the why question and find someone or something to blame. Gun laws? Mental health? God's wrath?
Don't get me wrong, I'm as guilty as the next person. I want answers too; I want to know how something like this could happen. But, so far? I've got nothing. Nothing is good enough. Nothing makes those 26 lives less precious? Nothing makes even just one of those little lives lost OK.
With that said, here's what I know the answer is NOT.
This did not happen because we took prayer out of schools or because teachers don't read the Bible with their classes. This did not happen because we've "systematically removed God from our schools."
Because, I am in the schools every day; and, if I know nothing else, I know this... God IS in schools.
He is in the special education teacher who used her body to shield bullets from her class.
He is in the first-grade teacher who locked her students in a closet and gave up her own life.
He is in the third-grade teacher who gave her life shielding her students from bullets and the kindergarten teacher who read books to her students as they hid in cubbies. (Source)
He is in the teachers, all over the world, who love their students and offer them hope and stability when no one else does. The teachers who pray for their students by name and over their classrooms before leaving in the afternoon.
He is in the students not afraid to love the "outcast" or share scripture with a hurting friend. The Young Life leaders who bring lunch to lost students and show up at their volleyball games.
God IS in schools.
Sure, as a public school teacher, I don't preach from my podium, lead prayers for the class, or write Bible verses on my blackboard. I don't "share" my faith in many of the outward ways we tend to associate with having God in schools; but, I assure you, I share him.
When I was leading Young Life years ago, one of my favorite adages was, "you might be the only Jesus someone sees today," and I try to remember that when I wake up early and walk into a sea of bleary eyed teenagers every morning.
It is a privilege really. I'm not bound by words or promises; instead, I get to show my students every day who Jesus is, by loving them and showing up. By really caring. By smiling. By believing in them.
And I see Him in them too. Every.single.day.
So, I will mourn. I will remember. I will cry for the 26 and the broken world we live in. But I will not let evil steal my joy. I will choose to find hope in the good. I will look for light in the glimpses of Jesus all around us. And, now, more than ever, I will celebrate the season and be thankful for the birth of a child in a stable all those years ago who came, ultimately, to save us from that evil.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5 (ESV)