There is Hope At Christmastime

Nativity Lisa Sullivan

It’s December 19th, a Wednesday evening, and I sit here five days after one of the most horrific events on American soil this year (if not THE most; there’s still some debate about that) . I think I’ve cried at least once everyday since it happened, usually in the morning; sometimes when I see or hear something that triggers the sorrow that’s still inside me.

I’m talking about Newtown. I don’t need to say anything more than that.

As a former teacher of babies ranging from 1st-8th grade (and yes, those 8th Graders might be the “King Pins” of the schools…or they think they are anyway…but they’re still babies), I have had a really difficult time wrapping my head and heart around what happened. I’m so sad. Sad for the children, their families, the teachers and staff, and their families, the first responders on the scene, the entire community. I can’t even fathom what it must be like to be in Newtown right now…or then.

I taught for almost 8 years. Some of those years were good ones; others not so, if I’m being honest. But, one thing always remained true – I was there for the children in my charge. I was there to make a difference to one child, a class full of children, a grade, a school. I was there as an educator, counselor, care-giver. I was there to ensure each child learned and grew and became something more than they were when they got to me. I was there for them.

So, to think about what each of those teachers and adults sacrificed for their children, I get it…and it hurt. It still does.

I hurt for every single person affected by such a senseless act of violence as what took place that day. I hurt so much that I couldn’t really speak about it for days and I certainly didn’t know how I was going to express it when I was ready. Here I am writing this blog post.

I don’t know if we’ll ever truly understand the “whys”. We can speculate until we’re blue in the face. The bottom line is we need to work towards ensuring that something like that never happens again, but the thing is, I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to guarantee that.

Some say it’s the ease of the ability to purchase or get a hold of high-powered weapons. Admittedly, I’m one of those folks that feels that way. I don’t understand why anyone would need a weapon of such high caliber. I’m not against gun ownership. I’m for responsible gun ownership. There’s a difference…but that’s another blog post.

Some say it’s mental illness, letting go of the stigma associated with it, learning to understand it and finding a viable way to help those who need the help. I agree with that too.

Some say it’s violent video games and music and anything entertainment. I don’t know of any studies that can attest to that, but I can see how a person could be influenced by such things. Personally, I choose to watch comedies more than TV shows or movies full of violence. I also choose to listen to music that is of a more positive nature. The key here though is…wait for it… I CHOOSE.

I say it starts at home. I’m not a parent (of a human that is; I am a proud Mommy to the best pooch in the world and the oldest kitty) so this next statement doesn’t come from one of experience. Rather, it comes from common sense. I think.

I would like to believe that parents are paying attention. I’d like to believe the good ones are bringing up their kids with the right sense of values, are aware of their kids hurts, pains, and positives, and as a Christian, are bringing them up in a home with Christ at the center. I’d like to believe that if a parent suspects even the slightest thing is wrong with their child they are on it like white on rice and won’t give up until they get the answer so they can find a solution, AND they continue working toward that solution even if it means having to hurt themselves for having to make a difficult choice for the sake of their child. I’d like to believe.

Regardless, bottom line is we will never really know what happened five days ago, but we do know we need to do something as a society to make a positive change for those that need us. What it is remains up for debate, but let’s get something done.

Me and Carolina Hurricanes Mascot Stormy at the Walk For Hope, 2012.

Me and Carolina Hurricanes Mascot Stormy at the Walk For Hope, 2012.

On my Birthday this year I walked for mental illness. I didn’t know that what I did then would have a different meaning today. I tell ya what, though, I look forward to registering for that walk again next year. If that’s what I can do to help those that hurt, I’ll do it.

The title of this blog post is “There is Hope at Christmastime” and up until now, I haven’t even gotten to what I mean by that so I’ll close with this –

Our hope comes from our Father in Heaven. It is he who guides our way, has the plan for each of us, comforts and heals us, who loves us. So, despite the pain I’m feeling now, I know it will eventually subside because my God is taking care of me. I also know that while we grieve for those who are grieving we find hope in Him for them too and I believe that those 26 angels are celebrating Christmas in heaven right now. There is hope in that too.

As a matter of fact, if you haven’t experienced Scotty McCreery’s “Christmas in Heaven” yet, please listen. This song has more meaning today (for me anyway) than it did when it was first released.

My prayer for our community and our nation is that we all find joy this Christmastime because there is hope. We just have to believe that we CAN make a difference. We can make a change. Maybe 2013 is a great time to start?

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a truly Happy New Year. May the peace of our Lord and Savior be with you.

There is hope in Christmastime.

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