I’m not going to lie, this post is a bit different from what I would usually write, but it’s been on my heart to share these thoughts for the past several days.
Let me explain…
Last Thursday my family and I drove down to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia to take part in their College for a Weekend experience. We did this because my daughter Mia is graduating this year and Liberty is at the top of her list of colleges to attend.
The weekend was great overall.
- Mia fell in love with the campus, helping ease some of her stress.
- We toured many of the facilities and got a lot of our questions answered.
- I connected with an old professor of mine and may be on a path to offering Live Free to the students of Liberty as part of a partnered effort.
Everything went as smooth as could be, until Friday night.
After taking in a hockey game we went out to eat dinner at a local restaurant. We sat down, got our drinks, and put in our orders with the very friendly waiter.
Then it happened.
We heard an extremely loud pop from the bar area just out of our sight. My wife saw a flash of light, and we all sat there wondering what just happened until someone in the restaurant yelled the words… “Gun!”
Initially I didn’t get up thinking to myself, “No way… that had to be something different.” But then my wife yelled at me, “We need to get out of here!”
I jumped up from my seat and trailed behind my family trying to keep an eye on all three of them as people in a panic stormed the front door, almost trampling us in the process. We all made it to the street and as I surveyed my surroundings I saw my family running towards the car, and so I followed behind them.
We all got the car safe, laid low for several minutes, and then eventually pulled around the corner and waited until the police arrived.
Later that night we discovered that there was indeed a gunshot and that a young man lost his life when he tried to break up a disagreement between two of the patrons. The victim was the restaurant owner’s son and the coward that shot him turned out to be a felon who was later caught trying to board a plane in Jacksonville.
The hours and days after this experience have been difficult for our whole family.
I keep reliving those moments and processing what happened, asking could I have done more? Could I have made better decisions? Could I have guided my family better? Why wasn’t I able to channel my inner Bruce Willis (Die Hard) or Liam Neeson (Taken) instead of falling into some of the same chaos others succumbed to?
Yes, we ended up being safe, but did my choices put all of us in the best position to avoid harm?
I wasn’t prepared for it.
I never expected something like that to happen.
I never thought there was a need to have a plan for such an occurrence.
I never talked through the likelihood of such things.
And yes, God protected us. We avoided physical harm (just a few bumps and bruises from the near trampling). But things could have easily gone sideways.
We could have gotten more seriously injured in the mass exit.
We could have run right into the assailant who fled the premises too.
We could have been hit by a car as we spilled out into the street.
The what-ifs and what-could-have-beens are endless.
And if things had gone south? The truth is I would probably be filled with a lot of regret and insecurity wondering if I could have done more at that moment.
Why do I share this?
Well, for one I need to process these things.
But secondly, I want to take this opportunity to stress to others one message:
Preparedness prevents regret.
Admittedly, the average person or parent will ever be prepared enough to perfectly handle something like a violent crime in a public place. But there are many other things in life we can be prepared for.
And more importantly, we can prepare our kids for such things.
This month we’ve been talking about the importance of having meaningful conversations with our kids about sex, porn, and masturbation. And this past weekend has reinforced to me the need for this.
Because while being exposed to porn or masturbating does not pose the same risk of life as a violent crime does, if your kids have these encounters and aren’t prepared for them, they will have to react instinctively and likely will make some unwise decisions leading to regretful results.
Your children need to know how to handle these matters.
They need to have a plan for when (not if) they have to face these decisions. And most importantly, they need to know that you are there for them to protect them and walk alongside them as they process what happened.
See, the truth is what we experienced is not common. It happens, of course, every day. But chances are you will never have to experience such a thing.
But, your kids will have to make decisions about sex, porn, and even masturbation someday – that’s a guarantee. And if they aren’t adequately prepared, the consequences will usually be unfortunate ones.
Make the effort.
Prepare them for such things in life.
Be there for them when they have questions.
And most importantly, be available for them if things do go sideways despite your best efforts.
Because playing the what-if game and feeling regret are terrible things, and while you can’t guarantee your kids will always make the best decisions when it comes to their sexual lives, you can at least look yourself in the mirror and say, “I did everything I could to prepare them the best way possible.”