I had it all planned out for the week by the Monday before and yes sometimes (most of the time) I do have to plan these now because the whole working full time and raising two kids has left me with quite a bit less free time for my favorite hobby. We had been invited to one of many Christmas parties of the season but this one was unusual. First, it was at the Tampa Club which is the swanky restaurant on top of the Bank of America building which is the tallest building in downtown Tampa. A has been there a few times before but I had never been. Here’s the unusual part– the kids were invited, not as some sort of polite gesture but as a truly genuine invitation. In fact the owner of this particular company asked A which specific gifts our kids wanted from Santa so when “Santa” arrived at the party he would have something for every child. Wow! Okay that’s a pretty sweet deal.
We realized that their Christmas outfits, while perfect for church, were not quite nice enough for such a glamorous affair. So off to Target we found then appropriate attire (on sale!) and I thought how excited I was to get some photos of them going to their first really fancy Christmas party and then write a post talking about Christmas.
Except on the day of the party something else happened.
December 14th, 2012 goes down in my mind as a day equal to 9/11 in that it will forever change the way I look at the world and most importantly, my children.
So I couldn’t post. I couldn’t. Parents mourning the loss of their children and my kids glammed up for a party? It didn’t feel right. To be honest Christmas doesn’t feel right either but that’s another story.
We went anyway because not going would have been rude but I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I spent one spare moment thinking about anything else besides those babies who had their whole lives ahead of them and the teachers who died protecting them.
I made a decision that night. I decided that continuing to teach, to walk through my classroom door the following Monday morning, meant that I was willing to take a bullet for my students and I had to really search myself– was I? What about my own kids, my family, my life? And then I decided that I am. I am willing to die for my kids the same way A was willing to die for his country. The way my best friend is willing to die to protect the people in our city. The way people rush into burning buildings and chase criminals and deal with infectious diseases for the good of others. I can and I will do the same.
There are no easy answers and I find myself at a loss for understanding of God’s plan though I do not presume to be a zillionth of a percent as wise as He. So I do not try to understand the horrors. Instead of grieve for those parents, friends, neighbors, and the people of Newtown for strength and guidance in the days, weeks, months and years that follow.
I can only decide what I believe myself. I can only search for my own truths and my own understanding. I will not own a gun but I also will not hide. I will not send my child to school in an armored vest. I will not homeschool (unless a different situation warrants that specific attention). I will continue to live my life in the best way I can. I will hold my children longer and tighter and I will look past the little things. I will shield them from the darkness in the world for as long as humanly possible. I will do my best to make sure they know joy and gladness, health and safety, contentment and love. It’s all I can offer my kids. I will continue to walk through my classroom door each morning with my faith in the Lord’s plan and offer my prayers for His protection over us. I will do these things because there is darkness in the world. I think we should ALL do these things because there is darkness in the world. When there is darkness there is only one simple answer:
Be the light.