In an Instant…

Sheila Laughton
A single event can radically change our entire perspective—or not. We decide.

I was working on this blog article late at night, intending to compare our relationship with God with knitting—just one stitch (prayer) at a time, etc., but a phone call from my Army son interrupted.

“Mom,” he said, “Did you see my message? I sent you a copy of the police report but wanted to call and let you know we were all right.” Now, my boys do that. His brother has called at least four times asking me to guess where he was—always in an Emergency Room, with or without his brother—so my heart wasn’t beating too hard. But then he went on to describe how he and his fiancé were out walking when a drive-by shooter emptied his 45mm pistol directly at them! His instincts/Army training kicked in; he threw his fiancé to the ground and covered her, putting himself between the shooter and her, as the car drove off. It crashed into another car, the shooters fled on foot. My heart was pounding!

My son was lucky—apparently two people had been killed in recent drive-bys. I had always thought that if he was going to be shot at, it would be in a war zone, not two blocks from his apartment in Tacoma, Washington!

So, as all spiritual directors seem to do, I asked myself, “Where was God in this?” Not in that God had “protected” them. (I don’t believe God shows favoritism to protect my child and not someone else’s.) Not as an opportunity for gratitude (God doesn’t need our gratitude) although we were extremely grateful that the shooters were poor shots! Was it an opportunity for insight? Probably. I wonder why two young men would think it was somehow acceptable, fun, or of some value or purpose to shoot at two lovers strolling down the street, and so sad that they did. Perhaps God was in the unprecedented opportunity to look at life—its unpredictability, fragility, not taking anything for granted, to surrender our desire for certainty and to consider what is really important. To consider our priorities and our beliefs.

Would I be looking at the situation differently if my son had been injured or killed? Most likely! But he wasn’t, and now I have an opportunity to model God’s radical forgiveness and unconditional love.

But what’s next? Do we act defensively, fearfully, after seeing the “the dark side” up close and personal? How do we go on with our lives? But more importantly, can we forgive them and not let them and fear control future actions? After my immediate reaction (heart starting to slow now), I can say “I’ll try” and know that God is there, either way.

Knit one, purl one…