An Alarming Event and a Flurry of Emotions

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“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

“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Lord, please show
children everywhere
how precious they are
and give them hope in You.

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

“Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall” – Body Image and Self Esteem

You-are-amazing

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall? Who is fairest of them all?” The wicked queen in Snow White thought she was so beautiful, but many who suffer from low self-esteem go to their mirrors and see distorted body images: I’m fat. I’m ugly. I hate my figure.

Our society is obsessed with outward looks. Fashion magazines, commercials, and other media are filled with air-brushed, unrealistic photos of women with outward beauty and slim figures. And men are portrayed as lean with muscular arms and six-pack abs.

All this media of what society calls “perfect” plays on our minds. Teens especially start thinking in order to be successful in life, they need to look like them. When I was a teen, I remember the pressure of being a “Twiggy,” a fitting nickname for a skinny model whose arms and legs looked like twigs. But with increased digital media, I think teens today have even greater pressure to conform. Instead of being happy with who they see in the mirror, they feel like they will never look good enough. Both media and peers, and sometimes even family members, pierce arrows of “you aren’t enough” barbs into their hearts.

Some teens even sink into bulimia and anorexia, eating disorders that often develop because of low self-esteem, poor body image, pressure to conform, or the trauma of abuse. A study done with 1000 Girl Scouts between the age of 13 and 17 produced sad results:

One in three girls said they have starved themselves or refused to eat in an effort to lose weight, while almost half said they knew someone their age who has forced themselves to throw up after eating. More than a third said they know someone who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

In another study of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18, data concluded that there are more than half a million teens with an eating disorder. Sadly, many are not being treated, and many have depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

Teens need to hear repeatedly how special they are just as they are. God has created each of us with a unique body style and individual personalities. Yes, we have to take care of ourselves, but we don’t have to look like models. He loves us just as we are. He doesn’t think we’re ugly or fat. He is enthralled by our beauty.

The wicked queen in Snow White didn’t realize that what made Snow White so much more beautiful was the beauty in her heart. And that’s what God cares about. God focuses on developing our inner beauty through the love of Jesus so it will reflect in everything we do and who we are.

A Child's Trust

♥ Are you a teen who needs help? ♥

TheHopeLine

Call Now: 1-800-394-4673 (HOPE)

Considering Suicide? 1-800-273-8255

 Teen eating disorders: Tips to protect your teen

 How can an individual understand what a person struggling with an eating disorder feels if they have never dealt with an eating disorder?

Christian Teens: Body Image and Self Confidence
Self Esteem Tips: Dealing with Body Image Issues

Teens Hungry for Hope

Jesus is Hope

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat…” (Mother Teresa)

Thousands upon thousands of young people hunger for love and acceptance. Alone, hopeless, and desperate, they believe their lives are not worth living and think suicide is their only way out. But by the grace of God, many of these youth find out about the HopeLine at 800-394-4673 (HOPE) where caring people talk with them. Lives are saved. Hope is given. Hurts are healed.

Truth Media partners with the HopeLine and receives emails from those who further request an ementor. As of April, 2013, Truth Media has received 100,000 emails from these hurting young people since they partnered in October, 2007.

Ementors come alongside a mentee to be their friend, to listen when no one else understands them, to offer positive support without judgment, to provide them with helpful resources, to point them to Jesus and the hope there is to be found in Him, and to pray with them and for them.

Recently I mentored a teen (I’ll call her Kammy) whose first email was short and heart-rending: I have self-harmed for two years, going on three, and I was recently sexually assaulted, and I’m feeling like this is all my fault. I have hit rock bottom and don’t know what else to do but give up.

Kammy felt she couldn’t be good enough for anyone, at home, at school, at church. She was bullied at school and was degraded at home. When she told her dad she wanted to kill herself, he yelled, “Go ahead and do it. I would rather have you dead than to put up with your bull crap.”

This was from a father who openly professed his faith in God to the public but who physically and emotionally abused his daughter at home.

Kammy’s emails became increasingly hopeless: I can’t deal with this pain anymore. Every night I find myself in my room curled up in a ball crying myself to sleep. That razor is my best friend. I’m tired of hurting. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

And the next day: I’m tired of being walked all over. Suicide is really knocking on my door. 😥

As mentors, we are not counselors, but it is our job to direct mentees to the professional help they need. Kammy’s heart was so broken and trampled on that she saw no reason to even seek help through the abuse and suicide hotlines offered to her.

As her situation escalated, it was time to intervene with more desperate measures, but at the same time to assure her that it was done out of a loving, kind place in our hearts.

Since we know only a person’s first name, we urge them to give us more information when we know of abuse that needs to be reported or when suicide intentions need emergency intervention. In Kammy’s case, she didn’t give much to go on but enough that the suicide hotline and the police in her area eventually tracked her down.

I didn’t know if I’d ever hear from Kammy again, but after some fierce struggling, I could let Kammy go. Jesus gave me peace that day that He had her in His hands and He would take care of her. Even if I never heard from her again, I believed that she was safe with Him.

But God gifted me with a message from her that next day: Thanks for all the advice you told me, and thanks for being there for me. I have realized that I need help and I’m gonna get help today.

I received another note today: I just got out of the hospital, and it helped me a lot. God is blessing my life a whole bunch.

As mentors, we will not always hear of the positive results or that “thank you.” Some will keep needing a friend, and others may never write again. We won’t always know who they are, where they are, or how they are doing. But God knows. We just have to feed them the love that Jesus pours out through us. Then we need to give them over to the One Who can break down all the impossibilities and work miracles. And with the love of Jesus in our hearts, we will go on feeding these hungry and thirsty souls for Him. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Kammy is only one example of a hurting teen in need of love and support. There are so many out there who are lost and alone in a cruel world. They need us to care, to listen when no one understands, and to point them to hope in Jesus. Will you join us?

 Become a Mentor 

Chelsea’s Story

 

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