Friday, July 22, 2016
Friday, July 8, 2016
Watching the chaos on the television screen from the recent shooting in Dallas, I had to remind my children to "look for the good." Look for the helpers, look for the encouragers, look for the peacemakers. They far outnumber the small percentage of bad.
Lately my youngest has been focusing on the negative. I.E. We were in our Dallas hotel room the first night and didn't get to go swim. She was pouting. (Keep in mind she had already been to a water park that day!) I've been in discussion with her lately about how you have to make a choice to look for good in situations instead of focusing on the negative. When she starts to go down that negative path I say, "But, what are the good things?"
I found out Tuesday afternoon while I was off work and at the lake that there was an important training the next day in Dallas at 9:00 am. (We live almost 4 hours away - not including any traffic issues!) Could I possibly make it? Well. Anything is possible. I quickly made arrangements.
My 3 kids begged to come with and my immediate answer was NO. They'd have to stay in a hotel room alone in downtown Dallas during the day and I had a room with 1 King sized bed reserved. No. Way. Then I started thinking (along with my Mommy guilt) maybe it could work. After all, my oldest is 3 weeks from 16 and my training was literally next door to the hotel. I arranged for them to hang out with a close family friend in the area the first day and it was settled. They were SO excited!
Wednesday evening we walked around downtown some and had dinner. We walked through a park on the way back with fountains and my youngest was promised that we'd come back the next night. Thursday evening, July 7th, we had more time to kill. We had dinner then stopped in a 7-11 to get slurpees and my kids noticed that a police officer in line in front of us bought a water for a young man hanging out in front of the store. On our way back to the room, we stopped at the park as promised and noticed some people starting to gather and a few reporters interviewing people. I didn't think a lot of it. My youngest played in the fountains as planned and then we left for our room about 2 blocks away. Time for the hotel pool!
Back at the hotel I looked up (good ol' social media) what was going on at Belo Garden Park, where we had just been. It was the beginnings of a Black Lives Matter rally. At the hotel where my kids were playing in the ground floor outdoor pool they voiced concern over the police helicopters circling. One hovered right over our hotel for the majority of the time we were outside and I explained that it was just the police making sure everything stayed safe. How do you explain racism to young children? Their sweet little hearts just don't really get it.
We went in just before 9:00. Just before all hell broke loose in Dallas. Back in our room I flipped through channels and happened across a news station blasting the images of the hysteria happening two blocks away from us. That explained all the sirens. I quickly changed the channel to Full House reruns. My 7 year old was distressed by the news and as Mom my role was the harbinger of calm and safety - no matter how I felt inside.
I feel bad saying I was scared, tucked in my bed in my cushy 5th floor hotel room with the door triple locked. I feel bad because meanwhile police officers on the street were up all night with their lives in danger. Even the poor attendants at the front desk of the hotel had 100 times more reason than I did to be afraid. At any rate, this girl from rural Oklahoma, sitting on the 5th floor listening to helicopter blades and sirens right outside my window, trying to be brave for my kids, was scared.
I also felt bad for even having my kids there... at first. I felt bad for exposing them to the violence and fear. But, in the light of morning after the hotel was off of lock down, and we were safely headed back home, I decided maybe it was okay that my kids experienced this. Because as tragic as it is, you can find the good.
The tragedy was a few people with evil in their hearts who decided to open fire and kill police officers. But, as always, evil can't prevail where love is. Because in committing this atrocity, they forced the police officers to jump to action and protect the very people who were protesting law enforcement. They eradicated the issue of race in those moments of fear when bullets were flying and suddenly lives were just lives - not black or white or blue. Officers were throwing civilians out of the way to put themselves in front of the line of fire - no skin color checks first.
That's what I want my kids to see. This is the world we live in. We live amongst evil and the impulse is to hide away - the way I didn't want my kids to come. I wanted to keep them safe at home. I want to keep them safe at home forever! But, I can't. I have to let them see they can be the good amongst the bad. That you can't dwell on the bad - you have to choose to see the good. You choose to see the police officer buying the less fortunate kid a water, the emergency personnel rushing to save the lives of those who persecute them, or the breeze the scary helicopter blades provide on a hot day.
Last night to calm my youngest down we prayed. We thanked God for His perfect timing in when we headed back to our room, we prayed for peace for our country, we prayed for the emergency personnel and their families, and we prayed for safe travels home. Today we debriefed together and talked things out. We discussed the fact that we knew if Jesus were in the flesh today he'd be right downtown in the the midst of the fear and pain. He'd be ministering through it all.
We're not all brave enough to be downtown right now. I'm not - especially not with my babies. But, can we really, in good conscience, keep hiding in our cushy rooms with the doors locked while the sirens and choppers whir around us outside? We live in a scary world, but we have to keep looking for the good. More importantly, we need to find ways to BE THE GOOD in our world.