It’s early and I am up. Each weekday morning, I get up early before my husband and my three girls, so I can enjoy a personal quiet time of prayer and Bible reading. After that, I use the remaining time to work on my personal projects like writing and lesson planning. Most of the time I’m able to accomplish much during these early uninterrupted morning hours. But not today. This morning my prayers are long, my sobs are loud, and it is hard to work.
It’s 6:40 am. I have no appetite, yet I am trying to digest the latest force feeding of tragic news. I am trying to make sense of the murders of nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, men and women who were killed during a prayer meeting at the church last night. I know full well that I, nor anyone else, will ever be able to make sense of such a horrific act of hatred.
Devastating. Heartbreaking. Gut-wrenching. Sickening.
I wipe away tears and reflect upon the horror of this latest massacre. I think of the families forced to face a new day without their loved ones. I think of the hardened heart of a man who thought it was okay to enter a church and exact hate-fueled violence on innocent people. I think of how the Lord must grieve to see the choices people make.
I pull my thoughts back to the present and shift in my chair. Though normally comfortable, my cushioned swivel chair provides no ease this morning. I squirm in the chair as I realize my girls will soon be up. The older two, ages 10 and 8, will hear the tragic news at some point today and their brown eyes will search mine as they ask questions and seek answers regarding last night’s despicable act.
Mommy, how did this happen?
Mom, why did this happen?
Mommy, who did this?
And the hardest question of all.
Mommy, will this happen at our church?
That last question will be a personal one. You see, last night while my girls and I were out enjoying a concert with friends, my husband, a church deacon, was standing before some members of our church, helping to lead the 8:00-9:00 pm prayer meeting alongside several other deacons. My girls are not unaware. They will recognize the shootings could have happened at our church and they will be concerned about safety.
I don’t want to answer their hard questions today.
I don’t want to answer hard questions because I’m heartbroken by the loss of life.
I don’t want to answer hard questions because I’m angered by bold acts of hatred.
I don’t want to answer hard questions because I’m saddened by thoughts of families in mourning.
But their questions must be answered. And so today, my husband and I will sit down with our girls and talk about hard things. Race. Hate. Murder. We will pray and we will answer the hard questions truthfully and in a way our girls can understand without making them anxious or fearful. We will listen to the girls as they express concerns and we will remind them that they are wonderfully-made, beautiful, brown girls loved by God and by us.
I’m not sure how our conversation will go or how long it will last, but I am sure of this. I will hug my girls more often today. I will kiss them and tell them how much I love them. I will remind them to live each day to the fullest and I will remind them that how they treat others matters to God. And later this evening, I will tuck them into their beds, pray with them, and gently stroke their foreheads.
And later on, after my girls have gone to bed, I will curl up in my favorite chair to pray and to cry. Again.
© 2015, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.