Keep Your Eyes Open

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Written February 2018

What happened in Florida has broken my heart. The tears kept coming as I saw the faces and heard stories of those who died. The tears come as I think of the mom who made it her life’s mission to love and care for this boy who would ultimately end the lives of 17 innocent people. My heart breaks wondering why he did it. Wondering if there was anything at all that could have prevented it.

I have no idea what the right answer is. I felt helpless and fearful. Wednesday evening we were researching bulletproof backpacks, and it breaks my heart that that even has to be a thing. Thursday morning, I didn’t want to send my son to school and I am sure I am not the only one who was feeling this way.

I pray with my son every day on the way to school, and every night before bed, asking God to protect him, and protect his school, and his friends. I am also certain I am not the only one who does this, and I wonder which Parkland moms were praying that Wednesday morning as their kids left them, and wondering how those moms are making sense of all of this now.

It leaves me wanting heaven. Wanting the day when Jesus makes it all right again. But here we are.

While a good bunch of people will be talking to their representatives and leaders, asking for law changes and action, it can leave the rest of us just hoping something changes but feeling powerless to make it happen. There is something we can do though, and we can do it today.

Keep your eyes open. Look for people around you who are alone, who are different, who are hurting. Talk to them. Care about them as if they are your kid, your sister, your dad.
If you are a teenager, look around the room. You will see kids at school, at church, at practice, sitting alone quietly, not quite feeling included. Please talk to them. Not in a pity way (though even that is better than nothing) but in a way that Jesus would. In a way that wants to really know them and sees value in them. Everyone has value.

If you are an adult at church, look for that kid sitting alone. Ask about what he does for fun. What he wants to be when he grows up. Take a genuine interest in his life. Pray for him, and ask him for specifics on what he needs prayer for. Follow up the next time you see him, asking how his test was, or if he saw the latest episode of whatever his favorite show is. Love him like Jesus would. It might be weird at first, but it is so very valuable.
If you are a neighbor, get to know that girl who walks by your house. Intentionally be available to make conversation. Find a way to show her that you see her, and that God made her for a purpose.

And this doesn’t just apply to teenagers. Look for the lonely adults, the people your age, the ones older than you, anyone who could use someone to value them. I am preaching to myself here too, because sometimes I am lazy, and skip the conversations. We can do better.

I am not saying this will stop all, or even any of the shootings, or that I have the answer.

But I think it is a good place to start.

“Love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

About Jen Chapman

She is a wife to Shawn for 20 years and counting, and a mom to Noah, and together they live out their story in their tiny town of Barboursville, WV. She is a freelance writer and a blogger at girlmeetsgrace.com. Flowers, bookstores, and people are what make her smile. She has seen God’s grace redeem her big-time and wants everyone to know it and experience it for themselves. She wants more than anything to give praise and honor to Jesus, and point people to Him.

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