Nineteen years ago today I was 2,000 physical miles away and what I thought was a lifetime from my graduation in 1984. I was raising two little boys who weren’t quite 4 yet and trying to navigate married with a hefty dose of motherhood. Cell phones were not the huge thing that they are now, but my oh so elegant flip phone rang and my mom was on the other end. I was a bit panicked hearing her voice because we usually only used cell phones for emergencies. She asked me where I was and I said I had been shopping for clothes for the boys as they were growing so fast. She told me to turn on the radio because a shooting had happened at Columbine. That was the day that 13 souls were lost and as an alumni I lost a piece of my innocence.
Yes, I went to Columbine. I graduated in 1984 almost 15 years before two young men went on a rampage and killed 13 people, wounded 20 others and eventually killed themselves. I had only lived in Colorado for 5 years and moved back to Pennsylvania, where I was originally from, two years after graduating. My high school years had a huge impact on my life and I treasured my time at Columbine. In the time it took for those two young men to slaughter those 13, a piece of what I had thought was a safe and comforting place had been taken and as I said my naiveté had been stripped away.
It’s still hard when people talk about what high school they graduated from and they turn to you and you say, “Columbine” and the gasps and the, “THAT Columbine?” is what comes next. Yes, THAT Columbine. The place is not evil. The principle Mr. Frank DeAngelis, the community and the alumni worked diligently to help remove the stain that colored responses when the name was mentioned. April 20th became a day of service, where we were steadfast in stretching out our hands to those who needed to heal and it helped us all in the process.
However, today I am angry. I, like the many other alumni, are angered at the March for Lives movement that have co-opted a day when the Columbine community comes together to heal just a little bit more, for their political and fame garnering agenda. Parkland Florida students who admittedly were bullies themselves are protesting on the anniversary of Columbine. Let’s be honest it has NOTHING to do with healing or change and everything to do with a political agenda and what will get them the most publicity.
I have to work not to let my anger become vengeful and move from righteous indignation. Go march on Washington DC where any change you want to affect will have to come from, check your true motivations and take a hard look at your heart if you really want things to be different, but don’t take away the modicum of peace that a community has worked for to further your agenda.
My uncle died two days ago. He was my father’s brother and only 4 month older than my mom. That really isn’t what has me so sad, I know it should and my heart breaks for my dad because now he is the only one left.
I guess I am really lying when I say he is the only one left. There is extended family and my cousins are still living, but we don’t have contact with them. Part of it stems from me letting my mouth run away with me. I said something that I shouldn’t have to my cousins. It’s not a moment I am proud of and I did sincerely apologize, but the damage was done and apparently grudges are a part of life for this side of the family. That should be quite clear since my mouth got me in trouble mainly because my father’s family essentially cut him off once he decided not to return to Texas and then really cut him off once he married my mom. My grandmother’s side of the family were a bit mean and would like to pretend that we don’t exist. I made it known that fact was noticed and got called a few choice names and was kicked off the family Facebook page.
There were things that my grandmother and my uncle did to my parents and I that were uncalled for, rude and even tried to cheat us, but I point out bias and I am the bad person (insert shrug of the shoulders here). I have forgiven them, but it makes me wonder how hardened their hearts are/were to have behaved that way. When my second oldest cousin called to tell my dad that his brother had passed away she couldn’t even remember my mom’s name when my mom answered the phone. Does that tell you anything?
My dad and I just by being his daughter were always the bad seeds and I had the additional black mark of being raised Catholic and a Yankee. It hurt and I know that it hurt my dad more than he ever admitted. Yet there have been shot gun weddings, divorces and children who have been MIA for one reason or another and in our family no matter the trial we manage to hold it together, and we are the ones who are shunned.
The lesson in all of this has been even if you have forgiven those who hurt you it doesn’t always mean they are repentant for their misdeeds and even if you apologize for your own stupidity it doesn’t stop the other party from holding a grudge to the grave.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”–Leviticus 19:17-18
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”–Ephesians 4:32
Today is the day that my father has his procedure. Usually I am the one who is not worried, but I must admit I am concerned this time. I think I failed to realize that I have not truly embraced the idea of not IF, but WHEN. I know that the outcome is in God’s hands and His will be done, but what will I do if His will is to take my father home?
I am not a worrier, my mother has that particular skill covered and so does my one son. however, to admit that my flesh so wants to worry is shaking my foundation a little and making me feel vulnerable. Growing up it wasn’t a good thing to open yourself to be vulnerable because that was something that wasn’t forgotten and brought up as an arrow to the heart to make you feel guilty later on.
I know that I should count myself lucky that I don’t have other family to battle over my parents leaving this earth. There will be no epic battles no other opinions, no hurt feelings and no sibling shouldering most of the responsibility. But I have to be honest, right now I would welcome some of that. Maybe because I don’t really know what that is like, to have to argue over every little detail or wish that my brother or sister would help a little to ease the pain and lighten the load.
I guess my biggest struggle is accepting that I have to leave this in God’s capable hands and grasp that whatever happens is within His perfect will even if I don’t like it. It’s just HARD. It’s time like these that, I think, test my faith. I can be all about prayer and being in His will until a really challenging trial comes and that is when I feel like I crumble like a cookie dropped on the kitchen floor. It feels like I hear this in my head more often than not (Matthew 14:31) “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” I wonder if I don’t inwardly become that little child throwing the tantrum and scream, “I WANT IT MY WAY! IF THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN I DON’T BELIEVE IN YOU!” I know that is the devil getting a hold of me and me not listening for the still small voice or waiting for the moment of peace to over come me. What I really need to rest in is 1 Corinthians 2:3-5, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
The power of God…..and a mighty power it is, rest in that.
Years ago I wrote something similar when Sandy Hook occurred and I have resurrected it at times. Today I revised it after reviewing my post from yesterday.
You have chosen to remove Me from, just about, every place where I can most certainly be of service. You have turned away from Me because you can do so well on your own. However, when a day comes that tests you or if you are a believer, tests your faith, you ask Me, “Where were You God?” I’ll tell you where I was…..I held the hand of the little girl as she lay in a hospital taking her last breath and whispered to her that everything would be OK and that she would be with Me soon. I wrapped my arms around the mother who lost her only child to a violent act and held her while she cried. I strengthened the resolve and provided a way of escape while a man battled temptation and then I watched and placed a hedge of protection around those who protect you and the freedoms you enjoy, those who will face down evil in a country that is not their own, on a street where they fear the next person they encounter will be the one to end their lives, or who run into a burning building to save the family pet.
Yes, I have watched, my heart breaking as a man who is unstable carry out a horror that resided in his head and I made sure that he took only those whom I needed home. I have watched as a young girl took back her will and made the choice to stick a needle in her arm for the last time, and I cried bitter tears as one of Mine chose to come home before My plan for them was completed.
Now in your infirmities and fear you are finally looking to Me and asking everyone to pray. Why now? Why not yesterday, why not tomorrow? But this panic and want for comfort will fade and again you will only remember Me when it gets hard, or you will rail at Me when you don’t understand My plan.
Evil exists in the world you have created and yet many blame Me for the choices of man, wanting Me to stop what you have done. I have asked many times over that you come to Me of your own free will and yet you refuse. You scoff and complain that I don’t exist, that I should not be allowed in the places I can do the most good. My only Son’s birth shall not be displayed because, “not everyone believes in that stuff,” and forget mentioning Me in mixed company because someone might be offended. Then a reminder of the barbarity of the human race, inhumanity is displayed, or corruption begins to brew, and you ask Me “Where are You?” I am here watching and waiting for you to come to Me and making sure that no matter how bad it gets, you can go on.
We are finally in a place in our new home that I can take a break every once in awhile just to decompress. So many things have gone by the wayside. Not all of that a bad thing. I find myself on social media less which is very good for my blood pressure, because there are times that some people make me think bad words even if I don’t say them.
It’s been a bittersweet move. We love our new house, but getting it in shape has been a daunting task to say the least. We had to stay in a hotel for 3 days (Labor Day Monday to Wednesday) with our dog who was not happy about that and our cat had to stay with my father in law. What we didn’t know is that our cat was very sick and dying. We were all finally in our house by Thursday night, but Winston was not well. We took him to an emergency vet, but the poor cat was drowning in his own body fluids. He couldn’t breathe properly, even though he purred when we petted him and meowed his pitiful squeak. My husband had to make a very hard decision at 10 pm having had little sleep for three nights and so very heartbroken that we didn’t see the signs sooner that Winston was feeling ill. He had been part of our family for 15 years and it was one of the hardest goodbyes that I have ever had to say to a pet (I am tearing up now as I type). We don’t consider our pets our fur babies, but they are part of our family and saying goodbye is hard and sometimes even heart wrenching. Winston grew up with my children and tolerated our dog. Shiloh (the dog) came to live with us after Winston had been in residence for awhile and we always said that they were frenemies. We imagined that when we were gone the two of them curled up together and slept peacefully, but the moment someone was looking they swatted, snipped, meowed and growled at each other. We even joked that when we gone for an extended time they played poker, smoked cigars and drank water at our kitchen table till my father in law came over to take care of them or we came home.
The house seems incomplete without Winston and I am sure that it will for awhile. Even Shiloh is missing his feline buddy. Our hearts will mend and in time we will be able to talk about him without getting teary, but we will always have the memories and the love.
What do you do when all you did was try and offer a little comfort and maybe a different perspective on looking at a situation and all you get back is hate and anger? I got a belly full of it today and it was completely undeserved.
A fellow believer mentioned that her parent had cancer and a brain tumor and was going to be having surgery of which he had a 50% chance of survival. I know how it can be so easy to focus on the 50% that means death, my mom was very ill while I was growing up and I lived with the thought that the next heart attack could be her last. That was extremely hard for a young girl to live with. Imagine being 7 years old and your mother falls on the floor unconscious, you try everything you know to revive her, and your father is at work (no cell phones then) over 20 miles away. Or being 4 years old and the only way your mom can play with you is from her hospital bed in the middle of the living room. So I know sorrow, I know being scared and I know hurt, and now I am struggling with the mortality of my parents yet again, but yet I was the target of a really nasty reply to my message of focusing on the 50% chance of living and being concerned about his salvation because if he knows Jesus the battle is already won.
I was called a bully, that I obviously never learned that people go through these feelings in any psychology class. I was accused of finding people’s faults instead of sharing the good news of Christ like a good Christian would. It hurt! I didn’t think I did anything to deserve that emotional vomit. It was as if someone poured acid all over me because they were hurting.
This whole incident has really made me think how it feels when I lash out at those who don’t deserve it. I know we operate in a meat suit and it’s hard not to let emotions get the best of us, but to completely unload on someone who meant nothing but good and certainly no harm…..where is the love in that?
Now I get to lick my wounds, overhaul where my attentions will be today and try make sure that my words follow Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”