POSTED ON DECEMBER 19, 2012:
Hold Your Children Tight
Shooting reminds us what's really important
Normally 90 percent of what we hear on the evening news has little immediate impact on us personally. Of course our hearts go out to the families of a fallen soldier or victims of a tragic accident. But the cold-blooded murder of a class of six and seven year old children in Connecticut has pierced America's heart.
This type of personal loss and the killing of innocence stops America in her tracks. It's not just about guns and it's not just about violence. It's about the loss of God's greatest gift to us. It's about God's promise through children that life and hope will go on. And then an indescribable act seems to take that away. Children give us unconditional love, the joy of their innocence and their unconditional trust. Sadly, we outgrow those wonderful attributes as adults.
I, too, lost a little girl years ago. Her name was Britta and, had she lived, she would be twenty-five now. Even though it's been many years since we lost her, I never visit her burial site without tears and thoughts of what might have been. Now twenty sets of parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles will be going through this in a community so small that, in reality, everyone will grieve for these children for many, many years to come.
Now, for the first time in a long time, we should look at children like we haven't for years. When you see a mom or dad holding their child's hand or walking together, you see a love and joy that words can't describe. And it's not just with little children. Even when we see adolescents and young teens with their parents we know their close time together is growing short. Soon, they will be off into this dangerous world on their own. And though we all know how perilous the world is today, we all still felt one of the safest places for a small child would be their classroom.
As hard as it is, how do we take something to better ourselves personally from this unfathomable tragedy? Why does it always seem to take events on a horrific scale to shake us to our very core and make us really focus on the meaning of life, meaning of family, and the blessing of having children and grandchildren.
This loss of innocence strikes even deeper when it comes near a holiday, particularly the most joyous holiday of the year, Christmas. You know the Christmas season for all of those families will never be the same again. Decades from now, they will still cry at this time of the year. And think of the presents for these children -- perhaps already wrapped and under their tree -- that they will never receive.
When we hear politicians demand some new legislation that will "prevent" this kind of tragedy we should all block out their self-promoting rhetoric. This isn't about what the government can or should do. Nothing a politician can say or do would have stopped this. Yet still we feel like we need to do something.
This Connecticut tragedy is about something that governments and politicians can't adequately deal with. This is about ripping apart the deep sense of family that this country was founded upon. And when innocent children are killed it's as if all of America has suffered the loss and something about America was killed. If the Statue of Liberty, the mother of America, could cry, surely she would be weeping.
Everyone will have an opinion as they struggle to answer the why and how. None of that will matter because none of that will help heal the hole in the heart of America.
We are such a materialist lot of people that days go by when we don't acknowledge the precious gift we have in our children as much as we should. We teach them, we feed them, we scold them, we ignore them, we punish them, we lecture them, all because we love them. But imagine if suddenly they were taken from you. Would you be glad and proud of the last thing you did or said to them before they were suddenly gone for good? Would you live the rest of the days of your life feeling regret, remorse, and guilt?
As we approach the beginning of the New Year some will jot down a list of New Year's resolutions to change their lives for the better. Most of the time, these resolutions are the same old list and are soon forgotten. Maybe in the wake of this tragedy, there are some promises to ourselves that we should keep. Consider these suggested resolutions:
Resolve to enjoy more time with your family.
Resolve to strengthen your faith.
Resolve not to take your children for granted.
Resolve to appreciate those who care for your children.
Resolve to preserve the innocence of your children as long as you can -- don't let them grow up too fast.
Resolve to be slow to become angry at your children.
Resolve to share your children with those who are alone.
Resolve to spend more time with your children listening to what they have to say and answering their numerous questions.
Resolve to be a good example to your children by showing your kindness to others.
Resolve to visit Tulsa's Floral Haven Baby Land Cemetery to remind yourself how blessed you are to still have your children.
We live in a world where we are all so very busy. Our work ethic has us tied up in knots. We submit so wholeheartedly to the taskmaster, and then we wonder why we feel empty inside and so distant from God. But, at the end of the day, when our nation is united by national mourning, only the passage of time and God's promise of healing can help us move forward.
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