Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good Inspiration

On April 20th 1999, my children were five and seven at the time of the Columbine shooting. Their elementary school was the location where students reunited with their parents. Our babysitter hid under a table in the cafeteria for hours until the SWAT team came. She later spoke to schools with the message, where would you be in your faith if that happened to you today? Her calling was just one of the many what God works for good that came from that tragedy.

The community created a network of people wiling to help those in need. From counselors to hall monitors, prayer walks and more, people stepped up and did their part. What God works for good.

Church groups helped with meals. Usually a simple task but delivering meals to those who had lost a child or had an injured child was not simple at all. Many broke down at the sight of us when we came bearing home cooked meals. What God works for good.

A mother whose son was injured started a prevention committee. She didn’t pity herself having a son who would never have the use of his foot. She got involved like the rest of us. What God works for good.

Our good friend was on one of the SWAT teams. He wouldn’t talk about the incident, buried in his heavy heart. Because of his experience he created new strategies and nationwide training for other SWAT teams on how to deal with situations like Columbine. What God works for good.

Our neighbor was in the science room, hiding in a closet with another student and teacher who had been shot, and died during her watch. She had a difficult time recovering from that experience, but became a believer through it all. What God works for good.

The Olympics reminded our country of Columbine when the principal of the school ran with the torch down the street in front of Columbine High School. He is still the principal today. What God works for good.

Count them, seven works for good, the perfect number. One horrific day against an infinity of what Christ is still working for good.

Seven years later the Amish shootings took place. The forgiveness they gave was a lesson to us all. Although there was forgiveness during the Columbine tragedy, the Amish took it to a new level. The mother of the man who shot the Amish still visits one of the girls who lived through the ordeal. She reads to her and takes her swimming every Thursday, even though the girl doesn’t have the use of her legs, and can’t talk. The Amish parents welcome this woman into their home, and they share a meal together.

One of the many good things that came from these experiences is it’s taught me how to realistically weave God into my stories. Faith issues are a common weakness for my characters, even the good ones. The, how could God let this happen, phrase is relatable to readers, so they join in the journey of working through my characters to make the situation into good, which rings true for me. I saw both bitterness and hope at Columbine, I chose hope.

Question: What difficult experiences have inspired your writing?


Jillian Kent said...

What an incredibly painful situation to live through, Beth. So much loss and desperate sadness.

One of the difficulties that just naturally show through in my writing is growing up without a father. One of my friends asked me, "Do you realize that none of the heroines you write about have fathers?" I hadn't even thought twice about it, but the absence of a father throughout life effected my relationship with God and I think I'll dwell on that in my writing in other ways in the future.

Thank you for this post, Beth.

Beth Shriver said...

Thoughtful that your friend would notice that about your stories. It would be interesting to see how you would do writing a male character as the hero.I do love a strong female character though:)

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Wow, Beth. I didn't know that about your family.

Beth Shriver said...

Lena, it's not soemthing I want to revisit but I do this time of year, in respect and memory of those who passed.

Bruce Hennigan said...

Just this past weekend, I was visiting the Apple store in Orlando while in town for a book signing and a visit to Charisma Media. A young, Asian man helped me out and asked about my "business" credit card. I told him I was a writer. He quickly shifted gears and started talking to me about his "book". I groaned inside until I asked him what it was about. He was very quiet as he told me he was the last person left alive in the room during the Virginia Tech massacre.
Everything changed at that moment for me. He said he had learned a lot about what love meant and he wanted to write a book about the last four years of his life dealing with this tragedy.
I gave him my email and I will help him to tell his story. God is so good and so surprising!

Beth Shriver said...

What incredible God timing for you to have had that conversation with that young man, Bruce. And boy does he have a story to tell! It would be good therapy for him to write that book. I hope he does.
Thanks for sharing that!!