Chasing the Fear

21 Dec

I know I promised big news to be revealed on Monday, and it’s now Friday and no news has been revealed.  I’m sorry about that.  There’s been a delay with that project.  I’ve also had trouble finding any words to string together this week.

Shortly after I published last Friday’s post, I found out about the terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The news made me fearful above all else.  I run my church’s Sunday School program, and every week I am responsible for 10-20 children between the ages of 2 to 10 years old.  It’s a small program, and I know all the parents well.  We don’t have a security system beyond volunteer background checks, signage, locking the two exterior doors, and setting up portable fences outside so cars don’t come through the parking lot that doubles as our playground.  We don’t even have doors on half of the classrooms.  We’ve never had a security problem.  Honestly, the worst problem we’ve ever faced on a Sunday morning was when one student tripped over a hula hoop and scraped her knees, hands, and chin.

But now instead of seeing the close-knit community that provides us with security, I see all the ways it could go wrong.  An adult getting supplies from our store room might leave the alley way door unlocked and a stranger could walk in.  A preschooler could run out the front door and into the street.  A fire may start in the kitchen and two classrooms could be left without an exit.

If I let myself think too long on these things, I won’t be able to do my job.  I’ll be too busy worrying about what could go wrong that I won’t be able to teach the students about hope, peace, faith, and love.  I would miss out on the moments that make me love my job, and what’s worse, I would be teaching my students about anxiety, distrust, and fear through my actions.

What I can do is provide as safe of an environment as possible for my students.  I can set up fences, I can put signs up saying “parents and students only,” I can lock doors, I can make sure the students know what to do in case of a fire, storm, or security breach.  I can make sure I know every parent, and who is allowed to pick up which kids.  But after I do all these things, I can remember to not take a single moment with my students for granted.

Because as my church was reminded this week, all the preparation in the world cannot stop all the evil.  On Monday morning, we woke to the news that one of our precious preschool students had passed away from cancer.  This little boy was a beacon of light and joy, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.  There is a Facebook page where people are sharing memories and photos of him, and it makes me cry and laugh at the same time every time I read it.  This is the second time I’ve lost a student to cancer, and I pray that it will be the last.

So in memory of the victims of Sandy Hook, and of every child who had been taken from this world too soon, I’m going to do my best to look past the fear of “what if.”  I will provide the safest environment possible for my students, and then I will not take a single second that I have with them for granted.

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