I have one of those friends that says “yes” to everything. She’s just down for whatever.
Want to fly to Florida for spring break while our friends drive? Yes
Want to stay in a tiny house when we go out west. With our husbands? Yes (more on that next month!)
Want to go to the beach? The mall? The zoo? The small group? The restaurant? Yes
Anyway, we lived together in college (dangerous) and I came home one day declaring that I wanted to study abroad in Spain. I asked her if she wanted to come. “Yes“. Okay. So we booked our plane tickets and were off for fun adventures a few weeks later.
Back to the point. One night I was walking back to our host house from a bar that was showing an American playoff football game and a guy stopped me and pointed a gun in my face. He was trying to rob me but didn’t know English, he was Moroccan so he didn’t even know Spanish. Anyway, one of the guys I was with literally took out a knife and the guy ran away. He took a knife to a gun fight and won. It blew my mind.
I have a distinct memory of what it looks like to be staring down a barrel of a gun. For the rest of my trip I was a little nervous when I saw men walking toward me quickly but for some reason once I got on U.S. soil I stopped thinking about it. I live in Baltimore, one of the most dangerous cities in America, traveled to Spain which has like five guns total and got threatened there. Only to return home and no longer feel nervous. It makes no sense.
It’s a pretty long story to get to the point. I spend my life trying to live in peace. I will get to the end of my life and it will be one of the things that has gotten a good bit of my time and energy. Trying to experience peace, to not live in fear, to not share fear with my kids. I should know by now that I have no control. He could’ve pulled the trigger and I’d never known this beautiful life.
We’re in an odd time in history. Maybe everyone says that once they are adults and the reality of our world creeps in and takes the place of wonder and possibility. Either way, I’m there. Seeing the world and realizing its danger. A lot has happened this month. A huge targeted mass shooting, animals getting a bit too close to toddlers whether in a zoo or a theme park. I read two books last week, one about a girl who was divorced by age ten, another about a 12-year-old who was sex trafficked in the Middle East. I go to a church heavily involved in eradicating domestic child sex trafficking.
The ugliness hasn’t necessarily gotten worse, I’m just seeing it through the eyes of a parent versus the eyes of a young person believed to be invincible.
So here we are. What next? Hide in my house with my babies? Last week I went to an active shooter response seminar for our neighborhood association and that seemed like a logical response for a full 24 hours.
The other option–trust God that even if He allows my babies to leave this earth too soon, even if He allows them to go through bad stuff, that He’s still good. That Our lives are a vapor no matter how long we’re here.
It seems crippling at times. Do I let them go to school and hide in closets for active shooter drills and just hope and pray they’ll only ever know drills? Do I pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a more ideal education, using money for that instead of adopting someone whose life is certainly less ideal in an orphanage? Do we homeschool, which comes with its own many sacrifices, the biggest currently seems like my every hour? And that’s just one topic! What about when they decide to start traveling? What about when they organically start belonging to certain social groups? What if they join the military or become missionaries in some far away country? They’ll be targeted for something, that’s for sure-we all are.
I don’t know. There’s running away in fear, there’s choosing what’s best for your own kids even if it’s not what your friends think is best for their kids, there’s having a defense, even if it’s seemingly small to fight bad thoughts or anxieties. It’s bringing what we have even if it’s a knife to a gunfight.
We can hide in fear or we can show up with whatever we have. We can choose which kind of education our kids get or what kind of clothes we let them wear. We can teach them to be comfortable speaking up when they’ve ended up in a sticky situation, to say “no” when they should and stick by it. To bring whatever they have to whatever fight they’re in, whether against an anxiety or fear, or a gun in their face.
But really, the biggest thing I can do is teach them to live their lives. I want to choose to fly across country without them for a friends wedding and not obsess over our life insurance policy or how they’ll sleep at night or if they’ll start calling their grandparents “mommy”. I want to teach them to travel, to make the weird friend, to dance even if they look like they’re having a seizure (poor Elle, it really is that bad). To go to “unsafe” neighborhoods and sign the petition but to know the people for whom they’re signing the petition! One of the most important legacys I could leave is for them to live their lives fully without worrying about the zika virus or the college shooter or the plane ride.
I don’t know how to do this well most days. For now, I’ll be trying to know this intimately:
The Whole Armor of God The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.