Audrey Rae, Braxton, and #3
I honestly don’t even know how to start this.
My heart shatters every time I think about it. It’s devastating, terrifying, surreal and yet oh-so-real, all at the same time. To begin to put into words what I want you guys to learn from this situation is difficult. I feel like I have no right to be writing this to you, as none of you are old enough to attend Reynolds, but I also feel like I must write this to you.
Today, there was a shooting at Reynolds High School, just one block away from our home.
A fifteen year old boy lost his life in the shooting. He played soccer. He probably fought with his parents from time to time. He was likely thinking about school ending for summer.
And he was too young to die.
I’m ashamed to say that this is not uncommon in our nation today. I truly pray that things have changed by the time you’re reading this, but as for now, it seems that school shootings are a more than annual event. Many lives have been lost in places that are meant to be houses of education, not fear.
Yet, for me, with every shooting before this, it was something that happened “somewhere else”. In fact, you likely cannot identify with this event as I’m experiencing it now because it’s “that thing that happened years ago”. Whenever I saw a shooting “somewhere else”, I felt sad, I prayed, and I would move on with my day. I’m not proud to say it, but it’s true. I gave a few moments of thought and time for the school and the victims and then proceeded with my life.
How could I have been so ignorant?
Today, it was real. There was no “somewhere else”. It was here. It was across the street. It was at the school I often visit for lunches. It was next to the playground you guys had played on just one day before. It was in the gym I have sat in many times before. I’m not sure how much more seriously I can say this: it was real.
There are so many actions we could take at this juncture. Actions of fear, of mistrust, of anger. I want to protect you both to outrageous extents. I want to bolt the doors and hide you from the pain I feel right now and tell you that this world is a perfect one where children don’t have to even think about violence on their campus. But I know that’s just not realistic.
There are a plethora of lessons I could teach you in the wake of the event. How fleeting life can be. The importance of friendships. The joy of family. I was at the pickup site for the students evacuating the school, taking the time to talk, pray, and help where I can. I saw students rush to the arms of their family, hold a friend tight as they both sobbed, take one another hand in hand, and it was all beautifully sad, a lesson of life being lived out right in front of my eyes.
But what I am dwelling on tonight, and what I want you three to live out from the very moment you read this to the very moment you leave this world, is something written by a brilliant man named Saul of Tarsus, known to most as Paul:
Love never fails.
Love never fails.
You see, another life was lost in the shooting today. The gunman took his own life after being cornered by the police. I have sat and thought and wondered today, what would bring someone to do something like this? Now, this question has been asked before, but I tried to delve deeper, to truly fathom what someone would have to feel to bring themselves to this place. As I pondered this, I thought he must have felt lonely. He must have felt angry. His heart must have been hardened by years of betrayal, mistrust, and abandonment.
He must have felt completely unloved.
How might today have been different if someone had shown him love on the way to the school? How might today have changed if someone, just one person, looked him in the eye and told him that he is deeply and unfathomably loved? What events would have taken place if love would have been shown this day or any number before it?
I don’t think I’d be writing you a letter right now.
When you’re at school, look around you. How might the lives of so many people there be changed if you show them love? That boy who sits alone or that girl who smells a bit odd don’t need your judgment, they need your love. That jerk in your class or that seriously annoying kid don’t need your harsh words, they need your love. People naturally, deeply, and in our very soul need love; selfless, active, genuine, sacrificial love.
Love is something that is lacking in so many ways today. I challenge you three to go out into the world and show that love. To live selflessly toward others, despite what they may look/sound/act like. To think that the love we have is something that others don’t deserve is outright arrogance.
Love others, my kids, as I love you, and more importantly, as our Father loves us. The lives of so many, including your own, will be changed by it.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 1:4
Christian, husband, father, and pastor. Also a proud and dedicated nerd. One of the dads at TheDadLetters.com and author of TheLivesIHaveLived.wordpress.com.