How Horror Can Be A Mirror
There was a horrific school shooting two weeks ago in Florida, the details of which are hard to swallow for even the most desensitized or indifferent.
It was extremely hard for this teacher to hear as well. I found myself reading every article I could find, pulled into the black hole of the internet, scouring every detail.
I’m not sure what I was looking for exactly. Maybe understanding, clarity, or something that would make sense out of this senseless act.
After drowning a bit in information overload, my mind kept going back to the killer. The kid. The one who could easily have been sitting in one of my classes a few states removed.
I keep wondering the same thing over and over about him - where did it all go wrong? Who or what failed this kid?
Because something set into motion a series of choices that reflect an inner blackness, devoid of morality or hope. The only thing he will ever be remembered for is this incredible tragedy.
And right now, all he has left is a legacy of death.
I think the wish to be remembered and to leave a legacy is as innately human as the need to breathe or eat or drink. There’s this pull inside of all of us to make some sort of impact in some way.
Why else would we get sucked into crafting the most creative witticism on Twitter / the cutest Insta post ever? Or work ourselves to death for a promotion at work? Or bend over backwards to make sure everyone we encounter thinks we’re the “bee’s knees”? Or manipulate the ones we love so we don’t feel lonely or sad or some combination of both?
Or cry out for attention in the sickest way possible, by taking the lives of so many?
There’s something in us that drives to be remembered.
I was mulling over all this and more this week, and I felt the Holy Spirit remind me of a sentiment that was repeated several times by Nehemiah in the Bible.
“Remember me, O my God, for good.” Nehemiah 13:31
This plea is repeated by Nehemiah three times, which shows it is something he thought about quite a bit. I imagine it came out with an air of determination mixed with desperation:
“Lord, I’m trying here. I know Who you are, and I know who I am by comparison. I want to be remembered for GOOD. For being good. For doing good. For knowing You.”
Or maybe that is just me projecting onto old Nehemiah.
Innate within me is the desire to please my Father, to be remembered for good. But, I know my sinful desires, and I know my tendency to go my own way, pulled towards that blackness.
I know there’s a battle for my legacy.
But, ultimately, I DO want good. So I whisper the prayer of Nehemiah in my moment by moment, and I grasp at doing the best I can.
However, there has to be more to my plea. You see, Nehemiah didn’t just ask God to remember Him for good, he used the word remember in a couple of additional and different contexts.
“Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses…” Nehemiah 1:8 - Here we see Nehemiah ask God to remember His Word. In the past, I thought reminding God of His own Word was presumptuous or snarky. But, we see David do it over and over again in the Psalms. Praying God’s Word helps me meditate on it, reminds me of Truth, and confirms that Truth in my daily circumstances.
“Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…” Nehemiah 4:14 - Nehemiah takes the time to acknowledge God’s character. Some of the best advice I ever received was from a college pastor who asked me simply, “Amy, are you going to God for answers or are you seeking to know Him better.” From that point, I have intentionally tried to begin all my prayers with reminders of God’s character. Pointing out His compassion, love, strength, sovereignty, helps curb my pleas into praise.
“Remember (my enemies), O my God, according to these things that they did…” Nehemiah 6:14 - Did you know it was ok to pray for God to hold your enemies accountable? I didn’t. How freeing! For me, correct acknowledgement of what I’m dealing with aides in me being able to combat it the best way possible. Being honest about the enemy gives me a practical place to begin my defense.
“They did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them…” Nehemiah 9:17 - Here we witness a fault in the nation of Israel called out by Nehemiah. They forgot what God had done in their past, and, as a result, they found it easier to fall into sin. The same is true for me. I can easily believe the lie that my life is a reflection of who I am and what I have done instead of the good work of my holy Father in heaven. But when I go back to the wondrous deeds He’s done in my life, it empowers my pursuit of good in the future.
I think Nehemiah’s prayers are incredibly balanced. Yes, he asks for remembrance for himself, but he does it through a filter of God’s character, His power, and His legacy in his own life and the life of the Israelites.
My pleas for remembrance have to also be this balanced. My innate need to be remembered and leave a legacy isn’t wrong or sinful, then. It is just better understood and channeled by using that same godly filter Nehemiah shows us.
So what does all this have to do with the school shooting in Florida?
Well, initially, I think swimming in the horror of the reality is probably a good thing. We need to be aware, and we need to use the awareness as a springboard to prayer and action on behalf of the victims and their families.
But at the end of the day, this should be a wakeup call to the deepness of the depravity of man when the need to be remembered isn’t filtered by the greatness of God. If we don’t have that balanced filter that puts our desires in the proper context, solely on God, then we'll go our own way, resulting in sin and separation from God.
And the crack of separation can grow into a deep canyon before we know it.
Therefore, I need to be active in my pleas to be remembered for good. I pray acknowledging God’s character and what He has done in my life. And while this will never excuse or belittle the tragedy, it does embolden me to act out of His goodness.
And the actions of the good is the only thing able to counteract the heinous repercussions of sin in this world.
“But You are a God of forgiveness,
Gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;
And You did not forsake them.”
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook