Lament and Blessing for the 10 year old
Blessed be the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. - Jesus Christ
I learned a few years ago that the age of 10 is developmentally a huge milestone in who we become as adults. In whatever ways our brains and bodies are taking in information during that formative year, it impacts and influences how we see the world.
Might that be a truth for you?
Some things I remember off the cuff at ten years old...
- My family hosted a German exchange student named Peter. I developed a deep love for language and culture having him in our home. I experienced generosity having him our home.
- My class was moved from one 4th grade teacher to another sometime early in the school year. Miss Way is still someone I connect with and care deeply about. We were her first class and she was a first class educator. I can remember my essay on Manatees vividly. She told me I'd be Valedictorian. I was.
- I had my first pig in 4-H that year. I begged my parents to let me raise pigs in addition to sheep. I loved that Pig and ended up raising pigs for a few more years at the farm.
What are some of yours?
At ten, I also knew nothing of a world in which girls couldn't play sports. I was being taught that women could do anything men could do. I didn't know that there was a pay differential. I didn't realize there were continued barriers for success based on color of skin. I continue to learn about those disparities in adulthood.
I am raising a ten year old right now.
My daughter, in her tenth year has witnessed a female vice president of the United States who is a person of color. She is ten in the year that the U.S. Women's soccer team is the first women's sport to finally get equal pay. She only knows of a world in which our country had a black president serve two terms. She also has only ever known school to be a place that a shooter might at any moment show up to kill her - and she practices hiding and watchers her teachers practice being ready to defend her. This has been her experience every year since pre-school.
Last week I read all 19 names of the mostly ten year old children killed in Uvalde, Texas. I have been lamenting the devastating loss of these beautiful lives. Have you seen their pictures? They look like the nine and ten year old I spent this year cheering on at the soccer field, on the volleyball court, and hosting in my home. They have innocent faces, similar interests and beautiful promise.
And in one afternoon, their lives were ended.
I do not understand. Why? My heart broken and aching, I've been crying out to Jesus. I have been holding my ten year old (and 8 year old) tight this week. They're letting me. I've been looking at the desert in bloom - this fleeting symbol of beauty that lasts only a short month and I see those babies in my mind.
O Jesus, wrap your arms around us tight.
I spend my days in schools. We are tired of feeling afraid. We are tired of lockdown drills reminding us of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook and now Uvalde. Teachers are leaving the profession. They are so tired of feeling unsafe because they just show up to educate and care for children. When I saw the pictures of the two teachers who died, I think of Miss Way and how much she loved us and how kind she was to hang out with squirrely ten year old's and I can imagine the generosity of spirit the two teachers had. They are gone and I lament.
O Jesus, heal us. Give us safety in our schools.
And then, in this gift of mercy I've been dunked in, I also see that boy. With a gun. A gun that no boy should ever be allowed to hold, let alone shoot. And I see his brokenness. The pain and devastation he felt necessary to spread. And I continue to lament. What happened when he was 10? It wasn't so long ago.
My ten year old said, when she heard how young he was, "Oh mommy, he must have had some very terrible things happen to him." He must have. I lament.
Oh, Jesus. No more harm to children.
And in some of those moments I wish I could not have mercy. Join the angry finger pointing and blame this 18 year old for all the harm. But I can't. The more I learn about our brains and how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) change our brains and beliefs and so much more, the more I can't ignore societal responsibility in breaking cycles, providing resources, identifying kids who need MORE and providing more for them.
And I believe with certainty that beyond anything else - we need to ensure that those hurting human beings can not have such easy access to guns. Do you know what a child has to do to get permission to drive a car? It's so much more learning and practice and practical safety guidelines to follow. Why cars and not guns?
Oh Jesus, help us create pathways to help when the pathways in us crave harm.
I long for my daughters to know a United States that is different. That they would see a country more concerned about ending violent acts of devastation than about the ability to own a gun that is designed to slaughter multiple people at one time. What if when our children look back at how we acted they see compassion and intelligence at work - gun reform that keeps children safe.
I wonder how many of the people advocating for NO CHANGE or NO REFORM have sat in a school during an active shooter drill. They didn't exist before Columbine - and I was a senior that year. 20 years ago, those drills were just beginning. I know those men whose faces represent the NRA did not. How many advocates for allowing no change to the 2nd Amendment, have had to say to children - stop being loud - I'll save your life if they find us, but I don't want to be found. Because those are real conversations happening in our schools. And every time a lockdown is called - we don't know if it's real or a drill.
Blessed are the Peacemakers. Want to be one with me?
Maybe this ten year old face will inspire you to move...
I pray blessing on her life. That she would see the people around her move to make this world safer for her young life. That she would live to be a voice in the nation.
I've signed a petition. I plan to call some politicians this week. We can make a difference for our kids. This one is about saving some lives and blessing the future for our ten year old's. Won't you join me. Let's let our grief move us to action.
Jen Hatmaker wrote and sent out scripts and links to help us with this move. I wanted to share that with you here:
"How to contact your senators & representatives regarding common-sense gun laws.
This is our power. It's time to use it.
Here is my suggestion on what to say when you call your senators and representatives:
"Good morning. My name is _____ and I live at _____. I am a constituent and have a deep love for my community and neighbors. I urge Senator/Representative _____, as an elected official who represents me, to protect our safety by leading the way toward gun violence prevention. Specifically, I am asking Senator/Rep _____ to advocate for the The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. Eight) and the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. 1446). I will be casting my next vote based on his or her legislative response to the gun violence epidemic in America. Thank you for your time."
Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your elected official. The person who answers your call will make note of your message and pass it on to the member of Congress. Their addresses are also listed if you would like to send something in writing.
This can all be done in under five minutes. This is our power. We the people."