14 Sep It’s a mess of a life. Empty playgrounds and fear.
I just drove past the elementary school and had to choke back my tears. The swings are still. The slides empty. The mulch undisturbed. No monkeys are on the monkey bars.
The summer humidity has broken. The temperature sits at a near-perfect 70. The corn is being cut and the breeze brings the smells of fall. If ever there could be a better “play outside day” I can’t imagine it.
So why the barren playgounds? All the children are being kept indoors, I guess.
Friday morning, it was a bomb threat.
Last night, the automated call came from the school superintendent reporting an anonymous threat of shooting.
Thus began the social media buzz about what to do with kids today. Send them to school? Keep them home?
Will cops be there? How will they guarantee safety?
What about buses? What about games and practices after school?
Will backpacks be checked?
Some parents were adamant about keeping their children home. Some were claiming resolve – no way are some bullies going to knock us down – kids have to go to school or else the bad guys win.
I didn’t know what to think so I kept scrolling and reading and was in a few group chats about it. My heart raced. My hands shook. I fell deeper into a panic. It was more than an immediate panic though – it was a kind of dread: “This is the world we live in and I knew that, but I didn’t want to think about it. Now I have no choice but to think about it.” And that makes me mad. Because I rather enjoy my innocence.
I have three kids in three different schools in our district – all schools are on the same campus, so the danger is there for all of them.
For a few hours last night, I bounced around between panic and peace. The peace came from rationalizing that the schools will be safer than ever since everyone will be on high alert. From remembering that my children are never going to be completely free from harm so me freaking out will not help anyone.
Ashamedly, I prayed only after an hour or so of frantic social media interaction. God is real. He comforts and strengthens. I don’t know how anyone can live without the knowledge that there is something stronger and bigger than us flawed humans.
People do get shot. People die. People get sick. Kids do stupid things. Adults do stupid things. We are unkind to each other sometimes. It’s a mess of a life. Living in fear can cripple us though.
I’m not saying whether I sent my kids to school – that’s not the issue. All of us want our children to be safe. Some felt school was the best option. Some felt a day at home would be better.
When the threat of the world hangs on your Mommy shoulders, look to a comfort that is bigger than the hurts of this world:
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT).
When bad things do happen, I always go back to this passage:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
Yet, I will rejoice. Even today, when the playground is empty.