This Is My City

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city.
— Chris Tomlin, “God Of This City

Even when it hits home, it sometimes doesn’t really hit home.

This is my city. This is my home. It always happens somewhere else, other places. But now it’s happened here. Twice.

Two shootings, two schools, a week apart. Four dead so far, three in jail.

The funny thng is, my closest connection to the first one wasn’t local. I have some friends whose son go to Discovery, but he wasn’t near the shooting, and I haven’t had a chance to talk to them. I did get to talk to my friend from Tunica whom I went to the launch with, whose aunt teaches and Discovery. The shooting happened right outside her room. She heard it. So that’s my connection — here via Mississippi, which made it a little more remote in a way.

My brother was at UAH. But not in the Shelby Center. He was stuck when the campus locked down, but wasn’t hnear the shooting and knew none of the people involved.

Even so, this is my city. Like I said, you see it in the news other places, but it doesn’t happen here. Not just because it’s home, but because it’s Huntsville. Twice in a week? Unfathomable! Has that ever happened anywhere?

And Saturday I was talking to a good friend of mine who teaches at a local high school. Two of the alleged UAH shooter’s children are in her class. And that brings it home. Because it was a very real connection, but because it was a situation I couldn’t wrap my mind around. I’m a pretty empathetic person; I identify with emotions. That would be hard enough even for the obvious side of this — the survivors who were shot, the families of the victims. I can’t imagine what they’re going through.

But tomorrow, my friend has to go back into her classroom, teaching students whose classmates’ mother allegedly killed people Friday. What do you say? What do you do? What are her children going through? For all my empathy, that’s a wall to me. I can’t begin to put myself in their shoes. What do you say to them? How do you show them love through this? What about the other students in the class? What is this like for them? How do they relate to their classmates? What about their own confusion and hurts? And my friend has to deal with that. I can’t imagine. I’ll be praying for her tomorrow. I would appreciate if you would, too. (For privacy reasons, I won’t give names, but I’m sure if you lift up David’s teacher friend, He’ll know who you’re talking about.)

It’s hard to believe this has happened here. I can only pray that healing comes out of this hurt, strength from this brokenness. That God does something incredible in my city through this.

This is my city. This is my home. I love her. I hurt for her.

I am a Huntsvillian.