When Fear Strikes

On Friday I got the message that no parent wants to get. “There’s been a shooting at NCHS,” said a fellow mom.  My two boys attend NCHS: Normal Community High School.

I ran into the kitchen to grab my cell phone.  I texted both of my boys. “Are you ok?” Within minutes, Austin texted, “Yes.” My heart calmed just a little.  I texted Kolya again. No answer.

Not knowing is a parent’s worst nightmare.

My tears began to flow. Fear became tangible.

The phone rang and it was a recorded message from the school. All students were being evacuated to a nearby church which required them to run across a field in pouring rain. Mark and I headed to the church which is just 2 miles from our home. As we pulled into the parking lot we saw Kolya from a distance. He was running along with other students across the field in their PE clothes. “No wonder he didn’t answer my text. He was in PE when it happened and didn’t have his cell phone on him, ” I thought.

I now knew both of my boys were safe, although it would be another hour and a half before Austin was across the field in the safety of the church building.

Students were taken to the auditorium and parents to the gym.  We had to wait until students and parents could be matched up one by one.  With nearly 2000 students, it required hours of waiting.

God’s word ran through my mind and I prayed for a “peace that passes understanding.”  (Philippians 4:7)

About 3 hours after arriving at the church, we were reunited with our boys. I could breathe again.  Other parents who were farther back in the line waited 2-3 hours longer than we did.  I prayed for them as we exited the building with our boys.

Throughout the remainder of the day I remained keyed up. Anxious. Overwhelmed with emotion at times.  This was real. It didn’t happen to someone else. It happened in our town. In my kids’ school. God, show me how to process this. Help me put my fear to rest.

I’m not naturally a fearful person, but when a momma’s kids are put at risk, her world suddenly stops. The remainder of the day and even the weekend, I saw the world through different, not-so-naive eyes.  God’s word came to mind again and again, “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Peace. God’s perfect peace eventually calmed my anxious heart.  I saw the same thing happen in my boys throughout the rest of the day on Friday.

There’s no way we can protect our children from the bad things of this world. That’s why it’s important to introduce them to the One who can help them deal with the bad things of this world.

When I couldn’t be physically with my boys, God was physically with them.  I knew that and they knew that.

Hundreds of parents, students, and people from the community gathered Sunday afternoon to pray.

You know, the military requires all enlisted men and women to participate in physical training everyday. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a time of war or peace.  They need to be physically fit so they can handle any crisis that arises.

In the same way, we need to participate in spiritual training by reading God’s Word, spending time with Him, and putting truth into our head and our heart.  We need to be spiritually fit so we can handle any crisis that arises.

Finding peace in a time when it makes no sense to have peace only happens when we are spiritually fit…strong in our faith, filled with God’s truth, and hearing His voice in the midst of the chaos.

That’s what we need and that’s what our kids need, too.

Because you never know when fear will strike and your faith will need to be strong.


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8 thoughts on “When Fear Strikes

  1. Hi Jill – I too live in BN and while my kids are still in high school, this was also a very scary time for me. I am so thankful that everybody is safe. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  2. Wow, thank you for sharing, Jill, and reminding us we are not immune to what happens in our fallen world. Faith grows stronger when it is practiced and what better time to practice it? Your boys are blessed by your example.

  3. What an ordeal you and your family must’ve gone through on Friday– not to mention your boys who were there! Though feeling fear as you did is normal, what a time to rely on the spiritual workout you’ve been undergoing for years– strength right when you need it.

  4. Jill:

    Has much been said about the young man that caused the problem? Do we know why he did this. Was he a loner at school. Maybe if each school had an organization of “God’s Children” who made it a point to look for kids who need friends, who don’t have parents like you that share their love, who at least give the loners someone to talk to. Maybe, just maybe these events would not happen if we reached out to those who feel rejected. I taught for 18 years and saw kids who needed friends. Fortunately I was able to get many of them involved in a worthy activity where they interacted with other students. There are many young people going in and out of our schools today that simply need love and someone to listen.

    • Not a whole lot has been said about the young man, but I do know a lot of kids and parents have been praying for him. I also know some of the kids are working on a video on bullying as a way to address that topic in general.