Font Size » Large | SmallBy Hannah Bemis Two weeks ago, the worst kind of news headline came home to my city. A fifteen-year-old boy walked into his high school with two guns and opened fire, killing one student, injuring several others, and leaving emotional scars on countless families in our community. Unbelievably, this is the second time in my life that a school shooting has taken place in a city where I lived. However, this time felt different because this time I am a mother. This time I knew one of the students who was in the hallway where the shooting took place. He was one of the students I tutor, a student whose mother I am close to. This time I am viewing the events, the trauma, the fear through the eyes of a parent, knowing that it could have been my son in that hallway. It could have been my kids wrestling through the sleepless nights, the unspeakable flashbacks, and the terror that follows this kind of an event. It could have been me facing the question of how I can possibly send my child back through the school doors four days after the shooting, trusting that he’ll be safe in this building where he almost lost his life only 96 hours ago. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with parents, students, and teachers, and to hear bits and pieces of what they are feeling and thinking in the aftermath of all of this. Even though most of the parents I spoke with don’t have children that go to the school where the shooting took place, their eyes have been opened to the fact that something like this really can happen anywhere. The main feeling I’m hearing voiced, understandably, is fear. Many parents are expressing a desire to pull their kids out of public school and join the already prevalent homeschooling community in our city. One mother spoke of how her previous pipe dreams of buying land out in the country and homesteading are starting to feel more like a legitimate option. Other parents are keeping their kids in school for the time being, but are saying that if a school shooting ever happened at their kids’ school they don’t see how they could ever send their kids back. One mother put it this way: “I just want to take what’s mine and get away from all the insanity.” As a mother, I identify with all of these parents. The instinct to protect my kids is fierce. As I have spoken with my own kids’ teachers about their actual plans to shut kids in closets and bathrooms if a shooter ever comes to our school and as the reality sets in that those conversations have taken place and those plans have been made for my own children, the terror I feel is incomparable. It is so tempting to let that terror take hold, to let my fear propel me into action and to make swift, strong decisions to protect my children at all costs. And yet something deep within me rebels against that terror. Something or Someone keeps gently removing the icy cold grip of fear from my heart, finger by finger. I keep hearing a voice urging me not to let fear win. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV); “The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid” (Psalm 118:6); “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7); “I sought the Lord and he answered me, he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4); “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you…do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). The words cascade over my spirit, reminding my mind that fear is not from the Lord. But I fight back, asking the Lord what could possibly be wrong about protecting my children, my greatest gifts? What is more natural than worrying for and protecting our own? Then, ironically, I am reminded of Hannah, my namesake, who gave her greatest gift, her only child, to the Lord completely. Are our children truly our own? They are our greatest gifts, surely, but do they belong to us or to the Lord, and if they are the Lord’s, then what are the implications of that truth? These questions are only followed by more questions: Where are we to draw the line when it comes to protecting our kids? Since our children are precious gifts, what is the difference between being a good steward of these gifts, providing boundaries for them and making them aware of evil, and sheltering or hiding them away to the point that God is unable to use them as He wishes? If I protect my children as much as I want to in this day and age, am I in danger of becoming like the foolish servant in Matthew 25 who hid his master’s talent under the ground in hopes of simply keeping it safe? Have we parents, in the name of protecting and worrying for our children, let fear become a permissible sin in our lives? I don’t have all the answers yet. I’m still fighting through my questions and searching for truth even as I write. But I am becoming convinced that I can’t, that I won’t let fear call the shots in my life. Just as we shouldn’t make decisions in the heat of anger, neither should we make decisions in the cold grip of fear. That is not to say that God won’t call some of us to homeschool or change schools or act dramatically to protect our children, but He needs to be the one to call us to that. God revealed to Joseph when it was time to move his family to Egypt to keep his son, Jesus, safe. There may be times when God warns us to escape and hide when it will be right to do so. But just as with Joseph and Jesus, there will likely be a time when He calls us to come out of hiding and go back, and we will be faced with the choice of whether to obey. Four days after the school shooting in my community, the high school opened its doors again. Students entered the building by walking through a prayer chain of parents, family members, teachers, counselors, policemen, and firefighters. These students made a choice; they went back. Their parents let them go back. These families didn’t let fear win, and they are some of the bravest people I know.