I AM A SCHOOL-SHOOTING SURVIVOR.
There…I said it…I have spent many years of my life watering down that statement. Possibly denying it. Although I know it has had a HUGE impact on how I view life, I never wanted to take ownership of it because I never wanted to give power to that hateful and horrifying event.
It would be easy to question God and question why he would let this happen…for many an event like this could drive a soul into darkness. BUT I truly believe the good Lord uses tragedies like this to shine His light even brighter.
My intention for sharing this part of my story is to share how I believe God can use bad for good and not to let our circumstances define our life, but to be willing to seek the good and the greater purpose in the situation and to therefore to quite possibly take that and create change in the world.
It has been almost 12 months since my last blog post. I owe this long break to this very sensitive subject that has blocked my writing, much like it has blocked me from other joy and experiences in my life. How can I possibly put into words all that I have experienced and felt since this significant event in my life?! How can I possibly pay tribute to all those I desire to, to describe all that I have gleaned from this unimaginable event?! The honest answer is I cannot. So I will not even attempt to. Following the most recent school shooting in Florida on 2.14.18 I felt compelled to share my heart and my triumph through the tears.
SINCE Columbine in 1999, there have been at least 25 fatal, active school shootings at elementary and high schools in America.
My personal belief is that this is not just a gun control issue….My personal belief is IT IS A HEART ISSUE….perhaps even A FAITH ISSUE….You have heard it before, take God out of the schools and evil will just move right in….
Today it has become more and more difficult to speak about one’s faith. I know for many years I censored my testimony to be “respectful” of others beliefs or non-beliefs. HOWEVER that is blasphemy; the exact opposite of what we are called to do as true followers of Christ. So many times I have shrunk back in my faith; allowing my fleshly desires to over rule my beliefs, morals and christian values.
ON April 20, 1999 I started my day like most other days that semester. I remember it was a beautiful spring day and I dressed in my well-thought-out tank top and jeans complete with a baby blue scarf for a belt. I then drove the short distance to Columbine High school and parked in my assigned spot where I then walked up the long cement steps leading to the exterior doors just adjacent to the school’s library.
The next couple hours continued as normal. But this day seemed to be a bit mild in comparison to other days as I recall it was “senior ditch day” and a “holiday” common for students to not attend class as scheduled. My best friend Michelle and I discussed skipping our 4th period elective class so we could head to the library and get in some extra study time for our physics test. But ultimately we agreed we would attend our separate classes and meet up after, a decision that quite possibly saved our lives.
Unfortunately, our plans to rendezvous after class never occurred; much like many of our hopes and dreams for the upcoming weeks, months and years never occurred. Just twenty minutes after that class bell rang, two evil and very disturbed individuals took it upon themselves to play the role of God and began taking innocent lives through gun fire. My 18-year-old-self would never be the same.
News reports and photographs have since captured the exact steps that I walked up that morning as the place that Rachel Joy Scott and several others took their last breath. Rachel was persecuted for her faith that fateful day in 1999. Her life may have been cut short, but her legacy and her dream lives on in me and all those who also choose to have compassion for individuals. Rachel began a movement when she shared her God-given dream to create a chain reaction of love and compassion:
“COMPASSION IS THE GREATEST FORM OF LOVE HUMANS HAVE TO OFFER. I HAVE THIS THEORY THAT IF ONE PERSON CAN GO OUT OF THEIR WAY TO SHOW COMPASSION, THEN IT WILL START A CHAIN REACTION OF THE SAME. PEOPLE WILL NEVER KNOW HOW FAR A LITTLE KINDNESS CAN GO.” – RACHEL JOY SCOTT
It is becoming more and more common for lost souls to take out their pain and suffering on others, but we believe one can create a positive chain reaction by taking a moment to reach out to someone you may not normally reach out to. As for me, I can’t help but wonder; what if I had turned around in senior English class and actually cared what Dylan Klebold had to say…?
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Luke 6: 26-31
Nancy Guthrie sheds some light on how one might actually accomplish this daunting task in her book Praying through the Bible for your Kids; “The gospel, with its staggering promises of great reward, offers the resources we need for this spirt-driven behavior. As we love our enemies, we model God’s own character, which was manifested fully in Jesus.
TODAY, before another day passes, it is our responsibility to stop hiding our head in the dirt in fear, but to pick up that baton of faith that Rachel Joy Scott so willingly carried and push it forward.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7
IT has taken me almost 20 years to share this experience to a greater audience and I have no doubt that the Lord is behind these words as I have prayed about them and sought the Lord in determining the message that is so desperately needed.
I always believed that my angels saved me that fateful day when I was contemplating going to the library. I felt overwhelmingly confident that the Lord had a bigger plan for me, and to be totally transparent, I wrestled with what that purpose was to be and why it hadn’t happened yet.
It was not until I fully surrendered my will, fully surrendered my life and fleshly desires, that the Lord began to do a work in me and reveal his power through me. I believe it is about being obedient to the call from the Lord and passing the baton of faith that began with Rachel Joy Scott. I had incorrectly believed I needed to discover my own voice, my own message, but today I truly believe it is about being willing to pick up where she left off; just as she so selflessly modeled after Jesus Christ.
For today…I am GRATEFUL to be alive, I am PRESENT and I feel a heart full of COMPASSION and empathy for those who have been most directly affected by mass shootings; but also for our hurting nation as a whole…
Allow me to encourage you today, look up from your devices, look people in the eye, and smile. You never know…that may be the only time that day, week or perhaps in their life that they felt truly seen….LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE NOW, and in doing so it is my HOPE and DESIRE you will create a chain reaction of LOVE, PEACE, JOY and COMPASSION to all those you come into contact.
The great John Wooden said it best:
It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
For further encouragement, prayer and comfort please see scripture quoted below:
Billygrahm.org Aug 3, 2016 15 Bible Verses to Give You Hope for the Future
Recent events in the U.S. and across the world have affected many of us. As believers, our hearts should break for what breaks Jesus’ heart, and we mourn with those who mourn. But as we do—keeping our eyes on Jesus by praying and staying in God’s Word, we can find hope for the future.
Meditate on what God says in these promises from Scripture and find lasting hope amid a world that can feel hopeless.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
—1 Peter 1:3-4
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
“Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…”
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”
—2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
“Behold, I am coming soon.”
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”