This morning started out like most mornings. I looked at my phone to check the time, and I was actually surprised my children hadn’t woken me up yet. It was 6:40 a.m., and my tiny alarm clocks normally wake me up by 6:30 a.m.
Since the house was still quiet, I took a moment to open up my phone and mindlessly stare at Facebook before the quiet was replaced with the noise of sisters getting ready for school, and all the chaos that brings.
I immediately saw the first post… “Praying for Las Vegas.”
I wish I could say I was shocked. Or surprised.
But instead, my thoughts were more like…oh, no. What happened now?
A quick google search told me of the tragic events that had unfolded while my baby slept through the night for the first time. While I was sleeping, a gunman had opened fire on a huge crowd of concert goers at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas.
Another act of violence. Another group of innocent people, targeted for no good reason. Another senseless decision that will alter the lives of hundreds of victims and their families.
I had switched to the Today Show when my oldest daughter got up and found me. I immediately shut it off, and acted as though nothing had happened. You see, my oldest daughter is nine years old. She is old enough to make scrambled eggs by herself on the stove, and she can even do her own laundry. But she also still likes watching Disney princess movies and is scared of getting shots at the doctor. You see, while she is mature in many ways, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her what had happened in her world while she was sleeping. I wasn’t prepared to explain to my little girl what one man had chosen to do to ruin the lives of hundreds of innocent people and their families. I didn’t want to reveal to her that this kind of hate existed in her world.
While I long to protect my children from the realities of this world, I understand that it is also my responsibility to have those difficult conversations with them. So eventually I will talk through the tragedy of the Las Vegas massacre with my daughter. But these are the things I want her to know…
I want my daughter to know about the man who sacrificed his life, while saving his wife out of love.
I want her to know about the victim who was a special education teacher, who spent her life helping others.
I want my daughter to know about the retired teacher from Alaska who used his pick up truck as an ambulance to help get victims medical attention because of kindness.
I want her to know that there was a dad from Philadelphia who threw his body onto his kids to shield them from the gunfire because of selflessness.
I want my daughter to know about Jolene Bennet who filled her car with victims, strangers, and helped get them to the hospital for the medical attention they needed, because she wanted to help. *
I will tell her of the many off duty police officers, EMT workers, and nurses who didn’t just run away, but ran in to help those in need.
I want my daughter to know that there was only ONE gunman. But there were HUNDREDS of helpers. In the midst of the chaos and confusion, people chose to help one another. To offer first aid to those in need, and to carry one another to safety.
In the midst of unimaginable tragedy, throughout unthinkable circumstances, the number of people who were giving, selfless, loving, kind, courageous and helpful far outnumbered the people acting in hate.
Fred Rogers is known for saying, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
I want my daughter to know that she gets to choose the impact she has on this world. While I cannot protect her from the unthinkable, try as I might, I pray she knows that she gets to choose to be a helper. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding us, we get to choose how we respond.
Although the darkness is inevitable, I pray that my children will each choose to be a light that shines bright no matter how dark this world may get. My prayer is that I will have taught them not only to see the kindness, but I pray they will learn to be the kindness.
Let’s not wait for tragedy to hit us directly before we start sharing our light. We can offer hope to the hurting by offering love and showing kindness to the hopeless. Only when we open our eyes to the needs around us will we be able to truly begin impacting those who desperately need it. You have to see the need before you can meet it. I pray my girls will be observant throughout their lives, to see the needs of others, and to be willing to be the helpers.
The world is full of people who need our light. So let’s shine bright, no matter how dark it may seem. Because we know darkness doesn’t win in the end.
*According to NBC News.