To Go or Not to Go? The Inaugural Parade

Mom…we are going to the Inaugural Parade!!

I stared at the text, unsure how to react. I, mean, I knew our district was applying for this honor, but now, they were actually chosen.

A flood of emotions swept over me. (I still get chills when I think about it!)

First came tears of joy…what an honor, I thought! The Joint Congressional Committee had selected our local marching band (which includes my daughter) to perform in a historical event.

But…then came that ugly but! My rational mind took over as I began to process the media reports, and the cold, hard reality that this event might bring some controversy, or even violence. There could be dangers at every turn, dangers my daughter did not ask for or bring on.

And so the deliberation began: to go or not to go?

Truth is, every time I prayed about whether or not to allow her to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime invitation, all I could think of was one Wednesday morning in April of 2014; we started our day out like any other with the hope and assurance that our children were just going to school, a place of security and routine.

However, just prior to my daughter’s bus arriving at the end of our street, I felt an aching in my chest and began to pray for her and her peers for I knew in my heart, life has no guarantees. I’m not sure if it was the sirens wailing off in the distance that got me thinking about it or a moving by the Holy Spirit. All I knew was I needed to pray.

And so I did. Then, I whipped the minivan around and returned home to continue my morning routine. I had minutes to spare before having to put the rest of my children on their bus. As I reached in to crank the nozzle on the shower, I grabbed my phone for a quick time-check.

When I pushed the home button, the face lit up with three missed calls from my daughter, and two texts.

Mommy, we are in lockdown.

I think someone at the high school has a gun. 

My heart sank. What was happening?

Regardless the weapon, our district was in crisis mode. The red Emergency Alerts had already begun to appear on the local news’ webpages. The details were sketchy, inconsistent. But the reality had hit…everything had changed. That safety bubble we often feel in life had been popped…by one young boy wielding two knives through our high school hallways. Over 20 people were injured and countless others emotional scarred that day.

I praise God to this day that no one died from this incident and continue to pray for those children, staff and parents affected. My heart goes out to them for having to live through such an atrocity.

As a result of that experience, our community had two choices: live in fear, focusing on the fact that this could happen again or live in hope and expectation that tomorrow will bring a new day, a fresh start, even blessings.

The choice was not easy then, just as it wasn’t easy now for me to reconcile as to whether or not to send my child to the Inauguration where her care and protection would be completely out of my control. So I needed to sort out what I knew to be true:

A. I’m daily in a battle for territory in my mind. (Colossians 3:2) When I listen to the negative chatter on the news and around me, I often feel disheartened and fearful. When I listen to the Word of God, I experience peace. So, I had to ask myself, which of these two “voices” was I giving more power to?

B. Can I hold my daughter back because I’m afraid? That was an easy NO! The reality is, we do not know our day or time, but living in fear will only paralyze our ability to experience life to it’s fullest. Believe me, I know. I’ve allowed fear to hold me back and paralyze me for many years. But the cycle needs broken and my children deserve to fully live. God only knows the blessings I’ve missed because I’ve allowed fear—sometimes very rational fears—to keep me from his very best offerings.

C. If something happens in D.C., who will protect her especially if I’m not there? Well, to begin with, she is under National Security. However, I’ll admit, even that didn’t bring me a great deal of peace because she is my baby! (Which for anyone who knows me, knows I’m not being disrespectful of our civil servants. Matter of fact, I deeply appreciate the service of our military, police, first responders, FBI, etc. who put their lives on the line for us EVERY day.) But then it hit me: she is under God’s protection. Whether at school each day, strolling through the mall or in the nation’s capital performing for 1 million people, I have to trust Him to care for her. I’ve never really had any control to begin with and when it’s our time to go, that time will come to pass whether we sit on our sofa or go out and live.

And so, it was decided with peace in my heart, she needed to do this! She is talented and lovely and has an opportunity to perform in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Last evening, I waved good-bye to the buses, embracing what I know: God is sovereign. He loves my daughter even more than I do. And simply put, her life is in His hands. As is mine. As is yours.

If you are struggling with decisions in your life, remember that “…God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:8) Today, choose life.

And you know where you’ll find me…I’ll be glued to the television watching that parade and cheering on these amazing kiddos that earned this honor through hardwork and discipline. May their day be blessed!