GUEST POST: School Shootings, Parenting, and Faith

by Laurie Polich Short

Looking up at the news during my workout this morning, I saw a ticker tape flash across the screen that froze my gaze.

…with this week’s latest shooting, that makes 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook…

Let that sink in a little. Something is happening to our kids.

Whether it’s gun control or video games, broken homes or social media, I think we can all agree with our president’s words this morning: This is unacceptable.

So what can we do?

As parents, we need to figure out our part.

Then have the courage to DO our part. (Even if “everyone else is playing shooting games and has a cell phone and a computer in their room, and you are the ONLY PARENT who is doing this”)

Finally, we need to pray for (and trust) that God is in charge of our children’s lives.

They say it takes a village, but most of us have parts of our children’s “village” that are out of our control. And this makes discerning our part (and Gods part) even more important.

Our eleven year old just left for his annual two month trek to Australia, where he goes each Summer to visit his mom. We skyped him a week after he got there, and an image of a strange boy with a three inch Mohawk bearing a slight resemblance to our son came up on the screen.

“Can we please speak to Jordan?” (We thought but did not say).

Instead we made it through the conversation with comments like “Oh your hair! Wow. Huh, look at that!” and other fillers while we inwardly wondered where the boy was who left.

Then we took a deep breath and prayed, and realized he was still there.

His hairstyle is merely a symbol of the values he is navigating as he comes to find his own.

As parents, our greatest challenge is raising a child whose exposed to two different views, two different values, two different parenting styles, and for now, two different heads of hair.

But looking at “74 school shootings” it appears your child (even if there are no other parents involved) is probably doing the same.

We can pour into our children, and pray for our children, but ultimately we can’t protect them from all that will beg their influence.

But there is a God who will navigate that with them. And we can solicit the help of others who will mentor our children toward that end.

Ultimately there will be one set of values our child will adopt. But he may have to go through a few other values to get there.

Hair, in the grand scheme of things, is the least important. (She says, mourning those golden locks). What IS important for us is how we love and guide and pray for the boy under that hair, who is navigating his way between two worlds. And how much we trust that the big picture is ultimately in Gods hands.

And therein lies the secret.

We are in charge of the small. God is in charge of the big.

No matter how bad things may look, we don’t always see the big picture of what God is doing. And that’s not just true about parenting. It’s true about life.

I recently told a story at a conference I was speaking at that illustrated this truth:

During the last months of World War II, the British conducted daily bombing raids over Berlin. One night, after a successful bombing raid, the bombers were heading back to England when they were attacked by a large group of German fighter planes. One bomber found itself flying alone with no protection, and at the same time a German fighter plane appeared out of nowhere. The crew watched as the German plane moved closer and closer, until it was in shooting range. Five bullets slammed into the plane in the location of the gas tank. The crew braced itself for an explosion, but miraculously, nothing happened. They saw fuel pouring from the holes the bullets made, but they were able to fly back to their base and get safely off the plane.

After the plane had landed, one of the mechanics handed the recovered bullets to the pilots and they carefully opened each shell. To their amazement they found the bullets were empty, except for one. Inside the fifth shell they found a note wrapped into a tiny wad which read:

“We are Polish POW’s forced to make bullets in factory. When guards do not look, we do not fill with powder. It’s not much but it’s the best we can do.”

When tragedies occur like the recent school shooting, so many of us ask: “Where in the world was God?

It may take some time to pull back and see Him… perhaps in the bullets that weren’t fired, the comfort people gave, the faith that will rise out of brokenness. But loss will always be part of the story.

However we can take notes from the Polish POWs and the cross of Jesus Christ that things may look one way for a time, but end up to be something else altogether.

And in the meantime, we keep doing our small part; and trusting the big picture of our lives- and our kids- into God’s hands.


Laurie Laurie is a speaker, author, and associate pastor of Ocean Hills Covenant Church. She speaks at conferences, colleges, churches and denominational events around the country, and has spoken to over 500,000 people in the last 20 years. Recently she’s been thrilled to add to her bio “wife” and “mom.” Laruie’s new book, “Finding Faith in the Dark” will be released by Zondervan in August.

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Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 20 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord, which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, Closer, and Doing Life with Your Adult Children. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi; three sons-in-law, Steve and Matt, and Andy; and three grandchildren, James, Charlotte and Huxley.

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