After last week's school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida, I have started to think differently as I enter the doors of a school. I look at the layout, check the lock-down codes and the teacher handbook for the emergency procedures and say a prayer for safety. A friend posted recently on social media that she just put her kid "on a bus to a potential war zone." Some days it feels that way.
On Sunday, tears streamed down my face as I grieved the loss of 17 students and teachers that I didn't even know. Our pastor's sermon reminded us that they were real teenagers, ones who probably had fights with their mom before getting in their cars to go to school. People with so many things un-said, so many things left to do with their lives. He reminded us that prayer is not a political thing, it is what we do in times of crisis. We pray.
We pray and we pray boldly. So many people offer their "thoughts and prayers" in times of crisis. I think we are saying this to others because we just don't know what else to do or how else to help. If you say this and you don't pray, it may be better not to say it at all, but if you do say it, say it and then pray boldly. Prayers are powerful and effective. They can change things.
When my mom passed away a year ago, I was offered so many "thoughts and prayers." At first it felt a bit trite, something that everyone was saying. But, after awhile, it became like a mantra. "Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers." And then the mantra stuck to my soul and became a buoy to hold onto on the hardest days. I would repeat it over and over. "Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers." It reminded me that my tribe was lifting me in prayer, even when they couldn't be right there next to me.
When tragedies strike, I am often moved deep down in my soul to go and help. In September, I wanted so badly to go to Houston and help hurricane victims. Sadly, real life circumstances prevented me from going. But, I still had one thing, the power to pray. After last week's shooting and the powerful sermon on Sunday, I was once again moved to go and do something. I spent fifteen years as a youth director, so teenagers are close to my heart. I thought, maybe I can just go down to Florida and listen to people who need to talk. Maybe I could help out youth directors in the area. My husband, ever the realist, reminded me that maybe that wouldn't be too helpful. I felt helpless once again in midst of tragedy.
One thing I can do is pray and pray boldly. May you join me with bold prayers, and may they lead to bold action and bold healing.