Truthfully, it stays with me always. It haunts me, if you will.
When I'm taking my kids to school, I pray for their safety.
Why does it bother me so much? A question I've been asked many times over the years.
No, I didn't know any of the staff members.
No, I didn't know any of the kids at the school.
No, I didn't know any of the families of the kids.
Instead, I was alone in my hospital room, having given birth to bratgirl2 just 24 hours before, when I started hearing "codes" being called. (I worked at the hospital at that time, and was familiar with what the various codes meant.) I knew something big had happened, and made the mistake of turning on the T.V.
Note to self: when highly hormonal, such as shortly after the birth of a child, do not turn on the news!
I watched in horror as Patrick Ireland hung out the window of the library, and was so grateful when the news switched cameras, so as not to show him falling out. I was so very relieved when they later showed that it was just a few feet to the top of the van or ambulance, and that he wasn't falling to the ground from the second story of the school.
I prayed for the families of the students, as they showed terrified parents gathering in the park nearby. I prayed for the students who were fleeing in terror, hands clasped on their heads as they were lead out by the SWAT teams. I prayed for the staff members, who acted heroically and prevented more loss of life. I prayed for the families of those slain, and for the families of those who bore the weapons and murdered their classmates.
And, as we all did, I wept. A lot.
As I held that sweet baby girl close. I wept for the loss of life. For the loss of innocence. I wondered how I would ever be able to let my children leave my sight, let them walk into a school, or go on a field trip. I wept for the families left behind, and for those who bore not just physical scars, but mental and emotional scars as well. Too often the unseen scars are the ones that take the longest to heal. And I asked myself over and over again, "What am I doing, bringing another child into this world. I can't protect her always, no matter how hard I try!"
That was the precise moment that I fully came to understand what faith is. It's when I fully understood that, no, I cannot keep her safe. I cannot keep bratgirl1 safe. I can protect them only so much. But, there is One who loves them more than I do, Who will protect them, guide them, cherish them, sacrifice for them, far more than I ever will be able to. And, I must give them over to Him. Fully. Completely. Without reservation.
It is also a moment that brought me closer to the cross. How could God allow His Son to die? How did He not lose His temper and wipe us all out?
As a parent myself, I can't even begin to fathom the depth of His pain. His Son was murdered. Brutally. And I am guilty. No way around it.
As a child, I find myself wondering what was going through Jesus' head. Not just about the pain He would endure. Did He think about how His Father would feel? Did He worry about His mom? He prayed in the garden for His disciples, for His persecutors, for His prosecutors, and for His executioners. He prayed for me. And for you. For His Father to forgive us. How? I'm speechless.
As a mother, I think about Mary. Her terror. Her distress. How helpless she must have felt. How hopeless. I can't begin to imagine burying my child, even my grown child. With every lash, I'm certain she wished she could shield His body with her own. I'm sure she would have lovingly wiped the blood, sweat and tears from His face with her hands and clothes, if she were able to get close enough. She would've gone to great lengths to bring Him a drink of water, bandaids, peroxide, a doctor... Anything for her child. Yet, she was helpless. There was nothing she could do, but wait. Pray. Weep.
And what an agonizing wait it must have been.
Yet, the story stays the same, every time it's told: He was raised from the dead the third day. Can you imagine her joy? Can you imagine His relief? Can you imagine God's smile that day?
Unfortunately, in this physical world, that was not the outcome for 12 students and one teacher. Not for the two shooters, either. Not for their families, who I'm sure were filled with trepidation as they waited for word on their children and loved ones. Sadly, those who died were not coming back to this world.
There's that glimmer of hope. That bright ray of light in a dark world. Jesus died for them. He died for you. And for me. He died so we would have the hope of resurrection. The hope of an eternity with God. Not separated from Him. With Him. The hope of seeing those whose lives were taken so abruptly. Seeing them whole. Healthy. Alive.
What's more, we're forgiven.
God has forgiven us. You. Me. Our challenge on earth is to forgive those who hurt us. Who wrong us. Who inflict immense pain on us and our loved ones. As God has forgiven us, we must forgive others. As Jesus prayed for us, we must pray for those who persecute us.
And we must always cling to the hope of eternal life. Resurrection. Forgiveness. Grace.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”- 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
So, finally, I will be in prayer on this 10th Anniversary of that terrible, tragic day in Colorado. For the families and friends left behind. For the survivors. And for the hearts of every American, every parent, every child, that we turn to the One who can truly change our lives. He is the One who gives freedom. Freedom to make mistakes. Freedom to be imperfect. Freedom to not conform to the world. And hope. Of a new day, a new chance to try again. Of a new life. And grace. forgiveness. peace.