“The principal at the Harrisburg High School has been shot…” Words something like this penetrated my brain as I was writing in my office. My husband was watching a TV program in the living room when it was interrupted by this announcement.
My heart pounded as I joined him. Two of our grand-daughters go to that school. Our bodies tensed as we listened to the story unfold that a 16-year-old boy shot the principal. When we heard the boy was restrained and the students were all ok, we sighed with relief. Thank You, God, for their protection!
The story our grand-daughters heard was that the boy walked with a gun into the office and aimed at the principal’s chest, but the vice principal tackled him. The shot caused a flesh wound on the inside of the principal’s upper arm instead of a direct blow to his chest. The vice principal and an athletic director held the boy down until the police arrived.
We hear of these school shootings, many of them fatal, across the nation, and our hearts cringe and ache for the victims and their families and friends, but it gouges deeper into the heart when it is closer to home and loved ones were in the same school as the shooter. Somehow, many of us thought it would never happen in our own backyard. Harrisburg, SD, is a small town about 10 minutes south of Sioux Falls.
What possesses these teenagers to threaten and take lives of others? Yes, some say it’s all due to the sin that lies within us. But isn’t there something deeper happening in their hearts and lives? The boy’s father said his son has been more quiet this past year and is angry at everyone. Why? Did something trigger it? Apparently, the boy got in trouble at school on the Friday before and was to meet with the principal on the following Wednesday.
It’s scary and so devastating that teenagers, in reality still children, act out in this way. I can’t help but wonder why. I know that even teenagers are responsible for their actions and must give an account for the bad choices they make. But I still can’t help but wonder if something happened in their lives that turn them to such rage or mental instability to make right choices. I have heard also that a teenager’s brain is hyperactive at the impulse center but underdeveloped at the decision-making center. It’s so sad when it plays out like this. My over-analyzing character kicks into high gear at times like this. I can’t help but see that when children inflict such pain on others, they have some deep, hidden hurts that they don’t know how to deal with. So I pray for the shooters, too.
Some may think I’m protecting the guilty when I think this, but really not. I just can’t help looking past their actions into what lies in their hearts and lives. It just feels like there’s some deep pain, fear, or rejection in these teenagers’ hearts that boils to the surface in anger. What possesses their minds? Do they realize the pain they are inflicting on victims? Do they ever wish they could do that day over?
Of course, no matter how much pain there is, this never gives anyone the right to inflict pain on someone else. One of these troubled teen shooters can devastate so many lives. Lives lost and lives forever traumatized. Heart-wrenching losses of loved ones. Children who feel paralyzed with fear and never feel safe again. Family and friends who tremble every time they send their children to school. Nightmares. Returned bed-wetting. Storms of emotions. All victims and their families desperately need our love, support, and prayers.
Even though this shooting was not fatal as other shootings have been, it traumatizes students, teachers, and families. The students returned to school the next day as did the principal himself. But some students are scared. Am I safe? Will this happen again? I was happy to hear there are counselors in place to help students work through their fears and emotions.
I read an article that a group of students gathered together around the flagpole before school. They held hands and prayed. This warmed my heart, especially since this is a public school. The principal was on the news saying his deep prayers are with the shooter and his family. I feel grateful that mention of God is still allowed in the local news.
My heart still tenses or shudders to think of what could have happened to our precious grand-daughters and their fellow classmates. My mind races with “What if…” But I try to grapple those thoughts with thanking and praising God and praying even more for the protection of our loved ones and our youth in general.
This scary event awakens me to be more diligent in praying for children everywhere, not only my own loved ones. There are many days I forget to ask God to reach children everywhere and give them hope in Jesus. A friend who directs the Hopeline for troubled teens once told me that there is such an increasing number of teenagers today who call in because they’re ready to commit suicide. They feel so hopeless, unloved, and worthless. That’s so heart wrenching, isn’t it?
It tears my heart out to think of children and teens feeling this way. Behind the scenes and not always on the news, many suffer abuse in one way or another, often within their own family. Or bullying from their classmates. O God, please help!
A debilitating sadness and fear are battling with thankfulness and praise in my mind and heart. I feel like a torrent of tears is ready to crash through the dam of being strong and courageous. Why do I feel like I need to be strong? Why don’t I just sob it out? Why don’t I pour all this grief and fear for children in this world out to a precious Savior who invites all children to come to Him and who can work miracles in the hearts of anyone?
Let’s gather our hearts and prayers together for children, including teenagers, everywhere! Let’s remember to ask Jesus to bring more and more of them to be anchored in the only hope there is in Jesus. That their fears may be soothed, their cares unburdened to our Savior, their eyes opened to see their precious worth in the eyes of Jesus.
“Jesus Loves the Little Children”
Lord, please show
how precious they are
and give them hope in You.
Linking up with:
Holley – Coffee For Your Heart
Jennifer – Tell His Story
Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith