Love Anyway: What I’m Telling My Kids About the Church Shooting
November 5, 2017
I started this morning watching my girls get ready for church. They stood next to each other in front of the bathroom mirror, brushing their hair and talking about the things young girls talk about in the morning.
“I wanted to wear this shirt today because it makes me smile.”
“I sometimes wish I had straight hair, but I also like it with ruffles.”
“Mom, can I use your lip gloss?”
“Do I have choir practice today?”
I watched them as I got myself dressed for the day, smiling quietly at their comments and wondering how they have grown so fast. I thought about what else needed to be done before we left – pack the diaper bag for the baby, make sure my oldest gets breakfast since she slept in, check that everyone’s shoes match and are on the right feet before walking out the door.
My mind was filled with all the things that were on the agenda for the day. Church service, lunch with family, choir practice, volleyball, dinner, baths, bedtime. I thought about what I wanted to get done after the kids went to bed, then deleted a few things from that list since I knew I would be tired from the busy day.
All in all, it was a quiet morning, a simple one.
After church got out, as I was sitting with family eating lunch, I happened to look at my phone and saw the headline about the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Oh my heart.
So many of those people in that small Texas town probably had the same morning as I did. They helped their kids get dressed. They packed diaper bags. They made checklists in their head and planned their Sunday. They checked shoes and keys and purses as they rushed out the door to worship.
…I don’t really want to imagine what their afternoon was like.
As I tucked my kids in bed tonight, rocking the baby and giving extra hugs to the big kids, I kept asking myself, why? Why does this keep happening, and what do I tell my kids when they hear the news? Why is there so much evil?
I know there will be answers in the morning. Or, at least, proposed solutions from multiple factions. I’m already hearing the sound bytes and scrolling past the tweets. I’m reading the opinion pieces, and watching the news anchors, experts and politicians come out with their directives.
And the truth is, I don’t think the experts are going to figure this one out.
I think the problem is brokenness. We are broken people living in a broken world. When you truly listen to people, when you hear their stories and look into their eyes, you can see the shattered pieces that we keep trying to glue back together.
Just as every person has brokenness inside of them – brokenness that they are healing from, living out or entering into – our society is broken. Instead of trying to heal that brokenness, we seem to default to blame and finger pointing. Instead of opening our arms and hearts to help, we want to retreat to our bunkers and find someone to blame.
As I stare at the ceiling fan in my living room, asking God for the wisdom to say what I should, I can’t help but come back to what Jesus said in John 13:34. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
We need to get involved in each other’s lives. We need to reach out, to open our eyes and our ears to listen to people’s stories. We need to really, truly follow that command Jesus gave us. To love one another.
What would this world look like if each person truly felt the genuine love of another person? What would this world look like if we put as much effort into knowing and loving people as we did into blaming and marginalizing them?
I don’t know the answer to that one, either, but I do know this. When I talk to my kids tomorrow about things that happened in that small Texas church, I’m not going to focus on fear. I’m not going to focus on blame or politics or policy. I’m going to tell them about love, and about the things love can do if we only give it a chance.
Sandra Samoska is a writer with a love for Jesus and a love for family. When she's not chasing around her four kids and doing all the things, you can find her writing about the ways God shows up in our every day lives.