Gratitude Day 883

Psalm 46:1: God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble – more than enough and always available whenever I need you.

The unthinkable happened not too far from our community this week: an 8th grader brought a gun to the Mount Horeb middle school. He was neutralized before entering the school building by officers and died on the scene.

Mount Horeb is about the same size as the community Hubby Rick and I currently live in. In fact, Reedsburg competes against Mount Horeb in various athletic competitions.

I became aware of the situation when a person posted on a group chat that I am on that she was praying for the school and students from this school. While her children do not attend Mount Horeb, there are other women in this group chat that have students in the Mount Horeb school district and are in the middle school. One of the affected moms shared that the school remained in lockdown well after the end of the regular school day. School officials wanted to confirm that this student was an isolated person and other people were not involved in the situation.

This is certainly one of those situations that we hear about and are aware of. Until it is in your backyard or your neighborhood, it just doesn’t have the same impact. When it’s your kid, your community, a community near yours and similar in size, then, it takes on a new level of personal affect. It becomes a lot more real.

Tragedies happen. Awful things outside of our control. While it is a cliché to say that we can control what we do in light of a tragedy, it is true. It’s not a matter of “if” we will experience some type of tragedy in our life; it’s a matter of “when.” No, we will never be fully prepared for the tragedy. Yet, we can embrace how we can embrace awful situations and be a calming presence for our family, ourselves and others while in the heat of the mess.

These ideas will work in all tragedies; not just a school shooting. Keep them handy. You never know when you will find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a tragedy or have the opportunity to support someone who is.

So, here are five suggestions for what we can do to try and maintain a sense of calm when everything feels very out of control.

  1. Take a deep breath. Acknowledge that you are going to need some help. Immediately. When a tragedy happens, the last thing we should do is try and navigate it ourselves. We can’t. We are not wired in such a way that we will be able to manage the emotional fallout all alone. So, recruit help immediately. Who do you ask for help? Let’s start with God. Pour out your heart to the One who understands and wants to be in your corner. Then, tell/recruit a few other close confidants that will be in your corner, no questions asked. We all need people who will simply show up and support us. Period.
  • Listen. If you are the person going through the situation, listen carefully to the facts and information being shared with you. Try to have someone else listen as well so you aren’t the only person trying to process information. Now, if you are part of the support staff, simply LISTEN. You do not need to say a word. Your presence is most important. Giving the person a safe place to share as they desire. These are paramount. You don’t need to ask 20 questions or give your opinion. Simply listen.
  • Provide for the most basic of needs. What do people need? Water. Food. Maybe gas and transportation. Possibly cash. Don’t ask what someone needs. Simply show up, drop it off and stay only if you won’t be in the way and can provide help or comfort. One person shared how they ordered food from a delivery service and had it delivered to a family in crisis. They didn’t ask what they needed or if they would be home. They just ordered it and had it sent. Think of what people in the specific age groups that are affected and order them necessities. Even things such as toilet paper, laundry soap, and dish soap are a great idea. Or go shopping and simply drop off. Why  is dropping or sending helpful? Because the person may not have time or bandwidth to deal with these things. And you can help with these things. If first-line of defense people are involved in a crisis, they also need basic needs. You can drop off water and protein bars for them as well.
  • Be careful what you share. It’s natural to want information and share it with others. But please, only pass along information that you know is accurate and helpful. This is not the time to be a gossip or speculate too much. While social media can be helpful, it can also be a breeding ground for miss information. So, be discerning.
  • Realize tragedies aren’t over after the initial problem is resolved. The Mount Horeb school district canceled classes on Thursday and Friday this week so staff could receive the resources that they need before addressing these things with students. If someone is struggling, suggest they get some help. Offer to take them or help find someone. Everyone will react and respond differently. Thus, what someone needs longer term will be different from another person. This should not a one-size-fits-all response. Be discerning and aware that each person’s needs and response will be unique and different. How might you support sometime in the long-term?

Finally, I pray that we see God as our refuge. A soft place to land. The One who knows what someone is going through because God has experienced it ALL. God will not wave a magic want and fix everything. This is not how God works. But God is available to journey through every dark valley and help guide us to a green pasture at some point. We just need to keep ourselves open to this reality.

For a God that understand tragedy, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Loving God – When awful things happen, so often we ask, “Why?” It’s a question that is not easily answered and so much more complex than a quick, easy answer. Instead of “Why?” encourage us to see You as the refuge who will help us journey from the dark valley towards a greener pasture. Amen.

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