Wednesday evening was the usual level of crazy with finishing up dinner, assigning kids to dish duty (always super fun…NOT), enforcing homework time, bath time, etc. When I had finally said good night to the youngest two, I grabbed a cup of tea and sat down on the couch to enjoy some Olympics with the girls. Aiden, my eight year old, came back downstairs and stood by me. I looked at him questioningly, “Yes???” “I feel weird.” was what he said. Huh? “You feel weird?”I asked. He nodded. “What does that mean? Do you feel sick?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Does your head hurt?” “No…” he answered. “Your belly? You need to give me more than weird Buddy. What is going on?” I probed. He sort of crumpled into a heap on the couch and started to cry. Oh boy…so much for getting lost in my tea and snowboarding.
“Ok, what is going on?” I asked as I pulled him onto my lap. He looked at me and said, “What if I get shot at school?” Oh my…I took a minute and cursed myself for giving up wine for Lent and then I just kind of sat there. This was when I should have comforted him with some soothing, maternal words of wisdom. But instead, I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I didn’t know what to say to him because those were things that I had worried about myself. We send our kids to school or sports practice or boy scouts, or whatever, and we expect them to be safe. We assume that when we go to pick them up, they will be safe and sound and whole. Sadly, that is not the case. So…what do we do? What do we say?
I looked at my little guy and was overcome with sadness that his tender little heart was so affected by this. I am not sure where he had heard about the recent school shooting in Florida. I don’t know if it was at school, or on tv or if he had overheard my older kids and I discussing it. I guess that it doesn’t matter. What does matter was how was I going to comfort my son when I was afraid too? How can I give him the assurance that he needs, really that we all need, that it is all going to be ok?
I think that it comes down to this…There is an ongoing battle and we are all under attack. Through our faith as Christians, we know who wins in the end. But I believe that the evil one is constantly looking for the weaknesses in all of us. He watches for the little opening where he can worm his way in and plant the seeds of doubt, loneliness, and hate. I just keep thinking that in all of these violent crimes, these senseless killings, what happened to the person behind them? What could possibly make someone feel that their only option was to take the lives of innocent people? What good did they think would come from their violent actions? How could that make them feel better?
I know that there are people who say that mental illness is to blame. Or that we need stricter gun control. Or even that it all comes down to bullying because kids these days are so mean. I am not denying that any, or even all of these things, are contributing factors. But I think that it all comes back to the ongoing battle that people choose not to acknowledge. There is an evilness out there and it preys on the weak, the isolated, and the lonely. It is that little mocking voice that whispers things like, “they don’t like you…you aren’t good enough…you are ugly…you are stupid…nobody cares…nobody loves you.” We have all heard it at one point in time or another. When we have those feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, they are right there mocking us. So why don’t we all just go nuts and turn to violence and anger?
The difference, at least in my life, is that I also allow the goodness. I invite God into my life each and every day and when I experience those feelings of doubt and insecurity, I remind myself that my value and worth doesn’t come from anything that I am or have done, but rather just in the fact that I am a beloved daughter of the King of Kings. It isn’t always easy, which is why I try to surround myself with people who know this Truth as well. They are there to remind me of this very thing when I fail to see it myself. This is what I want for my children. I want a support system around them that is positive and loving. I want them to be surrounded by family and friends that remind them that they are kind and important. They are loved and cherished. I want them to be that loving presence in others’ lives as well.
But that didn’t really answer his question.
I looked him in the eye and I said, “Here is the thing Buddy. We have no idea what each day will bring us, but we always know that no matter what, God is right there with us. He has sent each one of us a guardian angel to keep us safe and protected. I don’t think that anything like that will ever happen to you. I really don’t. But if it does, you know that you always have God right there with you through all of it. He loves you so much and so do we.” He nodded as he tried to process it all. I gave him a little squeeze and told him that when I am worried or anxious about something, that I like to pray a rosary. There is something so soothing about talking to the Blessed Mother and feeling the beads slip through your fingers. It has helped me to fall asleep many anxious nights. I handed him my “special” rosary and told him that he could take it with him to bed. He gave me a little smile and walked slowly up the stairs to his room. I wasn’t sure if it had helped him at all. I don’t know that there is really anything that can help us to make sense out of any of this. I only know, that in this darkness that the evil brings, I look for the light. That is where our Hope lies.