Another day, another active shooting on a school campus. What are you going to do?

high angle photo of person wearing shoes

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

Picture it. Really put yourself there. Stand there on that high school campus in the misty cool November morning. You’re a kid. You didn’t want to go to school but you dragged yourself out of bed. Maybe you had to get there early to take a test you missed last week or to work on plans for the next school dance or maybe you had a club meeting.

Whatever. You’re there. You’re standing on the quad at your high school, maybe talking to a friend. What are you going to do this weekend? Gotta work. But maybe catch a movie after? You’re sixteen and you have your license now. The whole world has opened up to you.

You hear a pop and in the cool fall morning under the open sky, it doesn’t feel important at first. And then you see the small red dot between your friend’s eyes and you feel the warm spray of her blood and nothing is really real except the next pop seconds later and the sting in your shoulder as you spin and fall on the prickly grass.

From there, you try to decide. Lie still, play dead or get up and run while you still can. Another pop and then two more. That’s five. If the movies are right, you get six. But the last one seems to take a while longer. You roll over and look. He’s standing less than twenty feet from you, but the gun is pointed at his own head, not you. You wonder if it’ll work. You’ve heard it’s hard to actually kill yourself that way. You’ve heard of people doing it, losing part of their brain, living the life of a vegetable, or, possibly worse, being horribly deformed for the rest of their lives.

You see his eyes, the hollow, hopeless look there, and you desperately hope that this time it will work.

And the last pop comes and he falls and it’s over. You lay back and tears seep from your eyes as you remember the red dot between your friend’s eyes. It bothers you that you don’t remember her falling, just standing there. Like she’s still standing there above you and not lying on the ground next to you with the back of her head blown out. Who else was shot? They aren’t all dead because you can hear them crying, too. You hear someone retching, coughing. Blood and vomit and tears soak the grass.

And so it happens again. Two lives lost, four more wounded in the time it takes to walk across a room. All because someone had a gun who shouldn’t have had a gun.

Raise your hand if you’ve been in an active shooting situation.

Raise your hand if you know someone who has been in an active shooting situation.

Raise your hand if you’re pretty certain you will soon.

By this point, all hands should be raised.

Jesus Walked Into the Waffle House

Between sexual harassment and racial discrimination, it sometimes seems as if our nation is tearing itself apart at the seams. I wonder if we stopped and looked at the other person’s point of view if we’d see how these things happen—not planned violence or gangs or murder or anything truly evil, but the moments of passion that humans get carried away by. The moments when our failings all add up and someone suffers for it.

I wrote this story in response to several news stories. It might not be popular among those who think every choice they make is the right one, but try to see our world as Jesus, who—according to every Bible story and every preacher—loves us all, would. (For another Jesus story, you could try Jesus Walked Into Planned Parenthood.)

Jesus Walked Into the Waffle House

By Michelle Garren Flye

On the night of the local prom, Jesus walked into the Waffle House. He didn’t want waffles or pancakes. He smelled the frying bacon and shook his head. Hadn’t His Father warned them about that?

He smiled at the hostess, an older white woman who worked the night shift so she could take care of her daughter’s two fatherless children during the day. The hostess didn’t smile back, but Jesus knew it was because the baby had skipped his nap that afternoon and she was simply too tired to smile. As He walked past her, however, her head lifted and she straightened her shoulders. As if she felt a surge of strength to carry on.

He moved peacefully into the dining room where a trucker sipped coffee and thought about his family at home. His wife was pregnant and her father had just gotten sick. The trucker worried that the stress would be too much for her. Jesus laid a hand on the man’s shoulder. “She’ll be all right.” The trucker looked up and nodded. He had faith but sometimes it was sorely tested.

The waitress was taking a break. Her feet hurt. She’d already worked six hours when the manager asked her to work another shift. But she needed the money. She had tuition to pay and no one to help her. She wanted nothing more than to graduate and really get her life in order.

Jesus leaned on the counter beside her. The manager came over. “There’s some prom kids outside. We’re likely to have a rough couple hours of it.” The manager saw prom kids every year at this time. Sometimes drunk or high—and always rough and rude—they often came to the Waffle House for a late night snack after prom. The very thought of them exhausted him. He shook his head and muttered, “Two a.m.? Those kids should be home.”

Jesus knew he couldn’t stop what was going to happen. He could see it now. The manager’s daughter had been raped once and he felt protective of the young waitress who was just trying to make her life better. When the young black man dressed in his prom tux complained about the food to the waitress, the manager would interfere. The black man, who was still young enough to think every choice he made was the right one, would reply, rude and indignant that he had been challenged. The trucker, still worried about his wife, and the hostess, tired and thinking of her daughter and grandchildren, would call the police at the first signs of trouble, long before anyone could calm down and think about what they were doing.

And when the police arrived, a pissed off cop would see a sobbing young white waitress and an angry black boy surrounded by the patrons and employees of the Waffle House, all arguing. And the cop would direct his own anger—born of years of these kinds of nuisance calls—at the boy. The boy whose grandmother was so proud of him for his last report card, and whose teachers had promised he would do great things. The boy who wanted to go to college and get an engineering degree, but who had made a bad choice by smoking a joint behind the gym at the prom and now felt invincible.

Jesus could only watch as the cop proved he wasn’t.